What is the cost of freedom?
Many have bought it for us, their descendants, with their lives.
Still, in our everyday life, most of us do not have to ask ourselves just how much of our income we would be willing to spend to protect our freedom of speech – in the public square as well as on the internet.
But, not everyone has that luxury.
Consider the case of Costance and Mark Fournier who run the Free Dominion forum. They have become targets of a serial suer, Richard Warman, and his minions.
From setting a legal precedent for protecting online privacy to proving that linking to online content does not constitute copyright infringement, they have done it. And more.
They have had to decide if they should comply with what they considered to be abuse of our (or, their subscribers) civil liberties or if they are willing to pay the money to defend themselves in a lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit…
If you hang out on the internet and comment on things or click on links, you are directly benefiting from the battles the Fourniers have fought and paid for on behalf of all of us!
(And not just in Canada – because of the related nature of our legal systems, Canadian legal precedents are quoted and considered in US rulings and vice versa….after all, we are all children of the Magna Carta!!!)
They have launched a fundraising campaign to replenish their war chest.
All of us who love the freedom we enjoy on the internet, we need to ask ourselves: as smart as Connie Fournier is, do we really want a layman or a professional lawyer to argue cases that will decide what we may and may not do on the internet?
Give generously, please!
This is from an email I received today from OpenMedia:
Imagine a world where you could be dragged to court and receive a large fine for simply clicking on the wrong link, where service providers would hand over information about your online activities without privacy safeguards, and where online content could be removed by big media conglomerates at will.
This scenario could become a reality before we know it. In just a few days1, a group of 600 lobbyist “advisors” and un-elected trade representatives are scheming behind closed doors 2 to decide how the Internet will be governed, including whether you could get fined for your Internet use.3 Instead of debating this openly, they’re meeting secretly to craft an Internet trap through an international agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).4 Our government just signed Canada onto this arrangement, without our consent.5
In short, it appears that it will be big-media lobbyists—not citizens—who get to decide whether Canadians will be fined as suspected copyright criminals. Please help us raise a loud call before it’s too late. Visit: http://stopthetrap.net
We know from leaked documents6 that industry lobbyists intend to blanket these new restrictions and laws around the world, without us having any say in the matter. How can they do this?
Instead of an open, public process, they’ll use international tribunals to go around domestic judicial systems.7 And once the trap is set, there’s no going back. That’s why OpenMedia.ca and SumOfUs are launching this campaign today.
Here are the details—the TPP’s Internet trap would:
- Criminalize some of your everyday use of the Internet,8
- Force service providers to collect and hand over your private data without privacy safeguards9, and
- Give media conglomerates more power to fine you for Internet use, remove online content—including entire websites—and even terminate your access to the Internet.10
We deserve to know what will be blocked, and what we and our families will be fined for. If enough of us speak out now, we can prevent the Canadian government from slow-walking us into an Internet trap. Make your voice heard today.
For the possibilities of an open Internet,
Steve, Shea, Lindsey, and Reilly—your OpenMedia team
P.S. We’ve been through a lot together. Industry and government bureaucracies have tried to make Canada’s Internet more costly, controlled, and surveilled. We fought back together and successfully held the line. Now some of those same bureaucracies are going around our democratic processes to impose an Internet trap through this extreme and secretive trade agreement. Let’s take the next step to safeguard the open and affordable Internet together now.
 The next round of TPP negotiations will take place between July 2nd and July 9th 2012. The meetings remain controversially secretive without meaningful public participation while, according to U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, industry lobbyists from Big Media entities like Comcast and the Motion Picture Association of America are “made privy to details of the agreement”.
 The TPP suffers from a lack of transparency, public participation, and democratic accountability. In this letter, a number of U.S. civil society organizations detail and decry the opacity of the process.
 See the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s analysis to learn more about the ways the TPP increases the threat of litigation from Big Media. Under the TPP, Big Media could come after you in court even “without the need for a formal complaint by a private party or right holder”.
 On Tuesday, June 19, 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada would join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
 Public interest groups have obtained the February 2011 draft of the TPP’s Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. In it, we can see that the TPP would drastically increase Internet surveillance, increase Big Media’s Internet lockdown powers, and criminalize content sharing in general, with a likelihood of harsher penalties.
 The recently leaked investment chapter of the TPP reveals that the TPP would establish a two-track legal system that gives foreign firms new rights to skirt domestic courts and laws, directly sue governments before foreign tribunals and demand compensation for laws they claim undermine their TPP privileges.
[9,10] See infojustics.org’s list of the TPP’s effects on the intellectual property law in Canada and Mexico for more information on penalties, privacy implications, and also Public Knowledge: What’s actually in the TPP?
I have reported on what I saw and heard in court during the hearing itself here.
Richard Warman is an Ottawa lawyer whose hobby appears to be using the legal system to shut up people who hold views he does not like – and the consequences be damned. He also has frequent-flyer points on using the Human Rights commissions to persecute people he finds ‘annoying’ and many believe that it is at least in part because of the way Mr. Warman used (or, perhaps, abused) the Human Rights Code that the section he used most often, Section 13, got removed.
I suspect that Mr. Warman finds people who stand up to him to be ‘particularly annoying’.
Connie and Mark Fournier run Free Dominion, Canada’s perhaps oldest, certainly largest, discussion forum with a conservative bend. They have stood up to Mr. Warman and his hoard of henchmen for years.
The Fourniers have been a favourite target of the serial suer Warman.
The decision has now come down in the latest lawsuit, which will have impact on how copyright laws are interpreted not just in Canada, but to a lesser extent also in other common law countries. And, it is clearly in favour of the Fourniers and freedom of speech!!!
And, it is hitting all the internet high-sites!
From Dr. Michael Geist:
‘The court’s discussion is important for several reasons. First, the finding that several paragraphs do not constitute a substantial part of the work has echoes to the Supreme Court of Canada hearing in December when the court opened the door to questions about some of the copying in schools not rising to the level of substantial copying. Moreover, if this amount of copying is not substantial, it has implications in a wide range of additional cases (including the Access Copyright model licence). Second, the court’s conclusion is critically important to online chat forums, blogs, and other venues where copying several paragraphs from an article is quite common. Given the court’s analysis, such copying appears to be permissible on at least two grounds, including the notion that such postings can be treated as news reporting for fair dealing purposes.
The third claim involved a link to a photograph posted on the photographer’s site. The court had no trouble concluding that the link was not copyright infringement, rightly noting that the photographer authorized the communication of the work by posting it on his website. This finding should put an end to claims that linking to copyright materials somehow raises potential legal risks. ‘
In other words, 100% in favour of the Fourniers!
And, let’s not forget – this is only one of many lawsuits the Fourniers have faced and are still facing. They have already set legal precedents in Canada when they stood up for the privacy rights of the users of their forum!!!
The practical implication of this is that they had to represent themselves in this latest court battle.
Connie Fournier, a computer scientist with a formidable mind, had to not only research all the laws and put the case together herself, she had to learn all the ‘tricks of the trade’ on how to do it and how to do it right. Not an easy task…
Well, she did something right!!!
‘All told, this is an excellent decision, and offers further proof that Canada has the very real potential to move copyright law in a positive direction. There are still lots of battles to be fought, but there’s also a genuine emphasis on the rights of users (especially in the courts) that can hopefully be harnessed and nurtured more and more over time.’
From Law 360:
‘Ottawa Federal Court Judge Donald J. Rennie ruled against attorney Richard Warman, who along with the National Post Co. had sued Free Dominion website operators Mark and Constance Fournier for having reproduced a speech Warman had written and parts of a newspaper article that had been written about him, and for linking a photograph that was…’
I’m sure there is more….
Finally, some reason is breaking out in the world!!!
Germany has outlawed childhood circumcision for religious reasons!!!
(Well, one part of Germany, anyway…but it will affect the country as a whole.)
From The Sun:
‘On Tuesday, the district court ruled circumcision would “irreparably and permanently” harm a boy and performing one for religious purposes “contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs.”‘
After all, a child is too young to give informed consent to such an invasive surgery. Male or female, removing bits of their bodies to reduce sexual pleasure later on (and, yes – that is the purpose of religious circumcision: reducing sexual pleasure to keep the mind on God, not sex) is inexcusable and abusive.
‘The regional court in Cologne, western Germany, ruled that the “fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents”, a judgement that is expected to set a legal precedent.’
I’ve been using almost exactly these same words to express these same sentiments – for years. Circumcision, even for boys, is not a trivial matter.
And when it comes to competing rights, it seems reasonable to me to go with the ‘permanent’ versus ‘changeable’ test: once removed, a body part cannot re-grow. It can be reconstructed, but once those nerve endings are cut off, they are gone – permanently. So, that is something a person cannot change.
Other things I consider ‘permanent’ are, among other things, race, physical disability/disfigurement, and to a lesser extent, gender.
Religion – that is changeable.
People change their religions all the time!
This, in my never-humble-opinion, means that when the right to bodily integrity – a ‘permanent’ outweighs the right to religion, which is variable. But, that is just my opinion. It is nice to read that courts in at least some jurisdictions agree with me!
And, even though the ruling was sparked by a case of a botched circumcision on a young Muslim boy, the Jewish community is already crying anti-Semitism…. which just goes to show that all you need to unite the ‘official religionists’ in Jewish and Muslim communities, to get them to work together, is to dangle a secular humanist in front of them!
And yes, I do stress the ‘official’ in the religionists’ description: because it is the busybodies within their communities who hold power over their fellow co-religionists by interfering in their lives in the name of whatever faith it is they are ‘official religionists’ of!
I suspect that most moderate people, of all faiths, will be relieved by this ruling. It will be a tool for them to keep their children safe from the imposition of traumatic religious practices which could potentially leave them with serious sexual dysfunction.
From the National Post:
‘The decision caused outrage in Germany’s Jewish community.
The head of the Central Committee of Jews, Dieter Graumann, said the ruling was “an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in the right of religious communities to self-determination.”’
Individual humans have the freedom to practice their religion, so long as they do not break the laws of whatever land they are in.
You know, like sacrificing virgins, or chopping body parts off of babies and/or children!
In any country, the same set of laws must apply equally, to each and every individual – or rule of law, which has improved our living conditions and, according to some experts, reduced the amount of violence we experience in our everyday lives to unprecedented low levels, will indeed break down.
A ‘community’ – religious or not – only has self-determination when it is recognized as a nation-state.
And that is how it must remain!
It is individuals – not communities, religious or otherwise – who have rights!
As Asma Jahangir has said (and I am paraphrasing), we must not give special privileges to ‘minority communities’ because the leaders of these ‘minority communities’ will use these privileges to assert their power and to oppress the other members of these communities. She was speaking of religious minorities in particular…
So, yes – it is about time the practice of childhood non-medical circumcision became not just outlawed, but socially unacceptable.
One would laugh, if this were not so tragic!
EU bureaucrats are openly over-ruling the will of its member states!
Some European nation states have already passed national law that make ACTA and ACTA-like monstrosities illegal in their countries.
EU bureaucrats say that’s too bad, they trump any national laws…
And, if the EU courts decide that ACTA is illegal, they’ll find some way to change the laws.
This is a very, very dangerous precedent!
‘In other words, De Gucht won’t accept the idea that the European electorate, through their representatives in the European Parliament, might possibly want to reject something they were not allowed to know about until late in the negotiating process, and to which they were unable to provide any meaningful input. In his view, ACTA must be passed, and ACTA will be passed — whatever anyone else thinks about it.’
And don’t forget, the EU is UN’s mini-me. As at the EU, so in the UN.
We will see this, more and more: bureaucrat-crafted ‘international agreements’ will be forced as laws on member nation states, whether they like it or not. In the EU and UN both!
Remember, the UN, chock-full of dictators and tyrants, is not big on Western values and civil liberties – and its laws/treaties reflect this. Even its Universal Declaration of Human Rights states clearly that human rights may only be enjoyed to the degree that local laws deem appropriate!!!
If you think this should not scare you, because you don’t live in the EU – don’t be so sure. The UN is just using the EU to work out some of the ‘how to’ kinks on its way to regulating humanity into virtual extinction!