Posts from April 2013

Shameless Self-promotion Sunday

Happy Sunday, everyone. Time to get Shameless.

Around here, I am trying to get my office into some semblance of tidiness, doing some background reading for a paper on the emergence of the fast-food industry, and making the final arrangements to get myself up to Birmingham for Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice’s May 1st march for immigration freedom. (Wednesday, May 1, 4pm–7pm, starting in Linn Park, Birmingham, Ala. See you there?) ¿Y tú? How’re things where you are? Got anything big coming up? Anything you’ve been working on lately? What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.

War on the Informal Sector (Cont’d)

Here is some moderately good news about a ridiculously awful story, from Occupied Las Vegas:

Three years after a confrontation between Las Vegas police and a costumed street performer in front of The Venetian spawned a lawsuit, the Police Department has agreed to settle with Zorro for $105,000.

Jason Perez-Morciglio, who performs as Zorro on Las Vegas streets, and his brother, Sebastian Perez-Morciglio, sued in June 2010 after they said Venetian security officers kidnapped and detained them for more than an hour on Jan. 15, 2010, before kicking them off the property. The brothers also alleged that Las Vegas police officers illegally handcuffed and searched them at the resort.

These security guards handcuffed the brothers, searched their persons and belongings, demanded identification, and photographed them, the lawsuit documents said.

On Monday, The Metropolitan Police Department’s Fiscal Affairs Committee agreed to pay the brothers $105,000, something that Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who sits on the committee, thinks was the best option to avoid negative exposure for the department. The potential cost could have been significantly more, Sisolak said. . . .

For the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, which provided general counsel for the brothers in the lawsuit, the impact of the settlement transcended monetary value.

The main thing in the case is that it was never about the money. It was about verifying again that the sidewalks in front of the hotels are a public forum, and the people have a right to First Amendment activity there, said Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the ACLU of Nevada.

According to Sisolak, accompanying the settlement was what he called a clearer and more definitive policy on how officers will handle street performers on the public sidewalks.

— Colton Lochhead, Las Vegas police settle lawsuit with street performer,
Las Vegas Review-Journal (April 22, 2013)


Real Good Friends Of Mine

Many years ago, when I was first setting up and preparing to migrate my blog over to it, I had already come around to completely rejecting so-called intellectual property. But I liked messing around with markup languages and microformats, and I was playing around with the new Creative Commons licensing gee-gaws, and I was not yet as thoroughly and acutely digusted with legalistic approaches or licensing formalities as I am now. So my way of making a statement at the time was to slap a CC-SA-BY logo on my website, and a long copyleft statement to go with it, which stuck around for the next 9 years. Man, that shit got boring.

So, back in February, I threw out my old copyleft notice for a new, Anticopyright statement. I didn’t put up much notice on the front page, but after everything that happened in January, and with the new work I’ve been doing for the past few years, I felt like it was time for a change. The old statement was an elaborate production, boring and full of legalistic notices, based around an explicit viral licensing scheme. I thought then — and, really, I still think now — that the open-access terms of copyleft licenses are — in the abstract — justifiable as a sort of legalistic kludge, to try to wedge open spaces for open content within the immensely shitty, locked-down political situation. But the more I’ve thought about it — and especially since re-reading William Gillis’s 100% anticopyright and re-printing Aaron’s Manifesto — the more I’ve felt like this was not nearly enough, and the more I felt like it was both conceding far too much of the argumentative ground, and also compromising far too much of my voice, as an enemy of copyright — for me to go on repeating those things with a straight face. So whatever good CC, GNU-FDL, and other copyleft licensing schemes have done to facilitate some of the technical aspects of the free culture movement, there is no legal solution to the problem of intellectual monopoly, and there will never be any solution at all except for a culture of widespread, radical, non-legalistic, ethically-grounded rejection of all claims of intellectual property, and a grassroots culture of social solidarity with remixers, pirates and other free copyists. The more brazen, the better. So I offer my anticopyright statement, such as it is, as a contribution to that culture.

. . . I don’t care anymore. It’s not enough to try to kludge the legalities of copy-monopolies from within. So-called intellectual property is in fact nothing more than a legally fabricated monopoly, suppressing competition and emulation, constraining creativity, confining culture, science and technology to captive, capitalist-dominated markets, and violently depriving many of the poorest and most marginalized from access to critical resources for education and life-saving medicines. The legal fictions of copyright and patent are despotic attempts to monopolize the human mind; power-psychotic burdens crippling and destroying individual ownership and the progress of grassroots culture and technologies; outrageous constraints on human intelligence and creativity; and a destructive and desperate protectionist scheme for the profit of powerful corporations. This web project is, in spirit and in letter, at war with every aspect of Intellectual Protectionism, in its principles — of monopolizing power, entitlement, social control and economic privilege — and in its operation — through increasingly invasive government policing and legal coercion — and in the disastrous global effects of patent and copyright restrictions.

I’ve been glad to see that some people found the statement useful, and have passed it around, even though I made the change fairly quietly behind the scenes of the website and didn’t make any particular effort to post notice on the front page. In the first part of my anticopyright notice, I wrote:

Copying is not theft, and when you reprint, duplicate or imitate you don’t deprive anyone of the work or the ideas that they had. . . . Copy, reprint, translate, make derivative works as you please. If you want to support the work, you can do that. But anyone found copying the content on these pages without permission, will be a real good friend of mine.

And so, with that in mind, here’s some real good friends of mine:

And most recently:

Thanks, y’all! I’m glad if you’ve found the writing useful; and I’m really quite honored if you’ve passed it around. If you’ve copied the free-copy-notice, and I didn’t catch it here, feel free to let me know in the comments.

This machine kills intellectual monopolies.

Yes, please.

I was going to post this the other day, but I had to wait until after Monday, because the author really is perfectly serious about it. Alex Seiz-Wald, at Salon, has recently discovered the chatter in gun-enthusiast and gun-rights circles around the fear of back-door gun-control legislation — by means of restrictions or prohibitions on ammunition sales, if new controls on guns themselves prove not to be politically viable. And so he picks up on some anecdotal Data-less Trend Stories about panic buying of ammunition in response. So, we get this story, from a putatively liberal political commentator:

With gun nuts hoarding bullets, will cops be disarmed?

Gun owners terrified of nonexistent plans to restrict ammo are hoarding bullets. Now police are running out.

. . . And there are plenty of members of Congress making hyperbolic claims about gun control, and a right-wing media eager to heighten and repeat the warnings. Not to mention the NRA, the most powerful voice on guns in the country and the market leader on paranoid gun rhetoric for decades.

But what those rushing to stockpile guns and ammo seem to miss is that their actions have consequences on the people whose job it is to keep us safe.

— Alex Seitz Wald, in Salon (27 March 2013) (emphasis added)

Now I have no really strong convictions about what those rushing to stockpile guns and ammo think about or don’t think about. Maybe if you want to know that, rather than to speculate about the mind of the intra-cultural Other, you could ask some people who are doing that, instead of spending the entire article interviewing self-serving budget-hungry police chiefs. But I do know that many people would be much safer if police were unable to buy any bullets at all. Did police bullets keep Kimani Gray safe? Emma Hernandez? Angel Alvarez and Luis Soto? Alonzo Heyward? Sean Bell? Amadou Diallo? Who seriously believes that keep[ing] us safe is what heavily-armed police do? Who is the us that they have in mind when they think that?

In all seriousness, this is really nothing more than another Data-less Trend Story but if it were true, it would be the best thing I’d heard all year about NRA fans. I don’t even own any guns, and don’t have any plans to get into them, but if the story is true that just makes me wish I had the money to run out and buy up boxes of ammunition right now. Because I have no use for it, but the cops do. And that’s precisely the problem with the cops.

Disarm your local police.