With the European Union’s Copyright Directive set to dismantle what’s left of our free internet, what can campaigners do to make sure we get our message out?
It’s surely no coincidence that legislation such as the EU Copyright Directive is being pushed right now. After all, ordinary folks are waking up daily to the gross injustices and criminal outrages of psychopaths and sociopaths who constitute our governments.
And so modifying copyrighted artwork and hyperlinking out to news items in traditional media will now become potential offences under articles 13 and 11 of the EU Directive – opening up opportunities for targeted censorship of anyone promoting messages counter to unjust authoritarian narratives.
26 March 2019
EU’s Parliament Signs Off on Disastrous Internet Law: What Happens Next?
In a stunning rejection of the will of five million online petitioners, and over 100,000 protestors this weekend, the European Parliament has abandoned common-sense and the advice of academics, technologists, and UN human rights experts, and approved the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive in its entirety.
Of course, implementation of the EU legislation will be chaotic and prone to error. Just witness YouTube’s rocky record of restricting and banning content at whim. But, again, this is really about silencing dissent.
Are there ways around this?
Many years ago when I started working with a variety of social and political campaigns, we’d enjoy social evenings sat round a big table as we stuffed paper envelopes with flyers and newsletters to send out to targeted recipients on our mailing lists.
The photocopier would be pumping out our counter-propaganda – at the same time poisoning us with ozone fumes – and bubble-jet printers would churn out sticky address labels.
Thankfully, the mid-1990s brought email to the masses. We could now avoid the expense of postage stamps and stationery by attaching documents digitally before hitting the send button.
If the EU Copyright Directive does pass its final hurdle and become “law”, as seems rather likely, we may have to go back to email mailouts.
This may be not be as bad as it at first sounds. Although the current version of the internet is still a robust way of sharing information, an ever-growing blizzard of content is probably reducing many people’s attention spans and ability to focus.
Only those of us dedicated to our causes actually bookmark sites and go back to them for future reference, just as many web surfers merely skim the avalanche of freely available content.
But there is always a real pleasure to be had in receiving campaign emails with a PDF newsletter attached. Try it!
The Alex Jones example
I’m no fan of Alex Jones or Infowars. While he did turn lights on in my head for many years, he later lost all appeal and credibility when Republican political activist Roger Stone effectively became his handler on behalf of US presidential candidate and now President Donald Trump.
However, Jones did make a shrewd move a couple of years ago when he was famously kicked off YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and many other left-leaning social media – potentially reducing his Infowars website’s online visibility.
Jones preempted those strikes by putting bold messages up on his site urging visitors to sign up for his email newsletter. The net result was an actual increase in his web traffic.
As I say, I’m no fan of Jones these days, but his story is a good example for what I’m saying in this blog post.
Campaigners can set up an email account, one that can be encrypted if necessary, with an independent provider such as, for example, Proton Mail. Get away from mainstream providers such as Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo – who record your private correspondence ostensibly for marketing and advertising purposes.
Download Libre Office – an office suite that works on Windoze, Mac OS and Linux very well and is very compatible with Microsoft Office – to create your PDF newsletters from word-processing documents extremely easily (and with no need for Adobe’s unnecessary complexities or security vulnerabilities!).
Start building your email lists right now – and always ask recipients to share your content with their own contact lists.
And for anyone rolling their eyes or laughing at my advice here, just remember this blog post once the internet is no longer free.