These are some of the images that I took whilst attending the ACTA protest in London on Saturday 11th February 2012.
It really was a great march and protest, as we were hopefully able to spread awareness to people as to the dangers of allowing ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) to be ratified by the European Parliament in June of this year. It has already be signed by most European governments, including the UK, but has yet to be ratified by the EU.
There were a lot of people that turned out for the protest, which at times looked like over 400 people. The protest started at the British Music House at around 14:00hrs and then onto The US Embassy, Parliament Square, Buckingham Palace, The Royal Courts of Justice and finishing at St Paul’s at around 17:30hrs. There was a fairly heavy police presence throughout the day.
People who attended the march were given free t-shirts to wear with the logo ‘ACTA Attacks Internet’ as well as leaflets informing people as to why we were protesting.
Amongst the many, many things that I hate about ACTA in it’s current form, is the complete lack of transparency. ACTA was first created in 2007 behind closed doors and was hidden from the public. It was only after the initial details of the trade agreement were leaked, that public disapproval began.
Amongst the speakers at the protest were, Jim Killock from The Open Rights Group and Loz Kaye who is the current Leader of Pirate Party UK as well as a composer and artist.
Loz Kaye’s speech was great and really highlighted a lot of the dangers of ACTA passing as well as the appalling way in which Richard O’Dwyer has been treated. Below is a copy of his speech:
So this is what the Internet looks like.
Well it’s good to see you as frankly these last few years it has felt as if the Internet has been under siege.
But now are you ready to strike back?
Just the latest example of the threat was the SOPA bill in the United States, a piece of extreme anti-Internet legislation which provoked a huge outcry. The fact that this outcry led to the derailing of SOPA was a significant victory for web freedom campaigners. Now the focus has to change to ACTA. Tens of thousands of people are coming out on to the streets across Europe in a huge wave of protest. We are seeing the birth of a European Spring in defence of digital rights and civil liberties.
Our enemies have tried to characterise us as misinformed and extreme. Yet even the Economist has described ACTA as “potentially draconian”. Are Amnesty International and Medicins sans Frontieres misinformed when they warn this treaty will harm human rights and the ability of developing countries to access generic drugs? I think not.
This treaty gives the entertainment industry significant extrajudicial power over the web. It specifies criminalising “aiding and abetting” copyright infringement – so it takes in all Internet actors, blogs, sites, Internet service providers, even potentially links. It unleashes the copyright cops.
La Quadrature du Net has warned that this agreement paves the way for automated blocking, filtering of communications and deletion of content. No one can tell me that this will not harm freedom of expression.
We know that there is already collateral in the rights holders’ pirate hunt.
Sheffield student Richard O’Dwyer faces extradition to the US and 10 years prison just for making a site with links. I was told about yet another video that was taken down yesterday for alleged music copyright infringement. It did not have a single note of music on it. I am afraid that we will see these kind of abuses on an industrial scale with ACTA.
Speaking of music, it is very moving for me to be here at the British Music headquarters today. As an activist, as a citizen, but above all as a musician and composer. I am fed up to the back teeth with the entertainment industry pretending that they represent artists. The are self appointed fat cats that represent nothing but their own narrow self interests.
BPI you do not speak for me.
PRS you do not speak for me.
Feargal Sharkey you certainly do not speak for me.
We are continually told that there is a piracy crisis. There is no crisis. In the US more music was sold than ever before last year. In the UK sales volumes increased. This was driven by digital. Culture needs a free and functioning web. No one has shown me credible evidence that ACTA will put any more pennies in my pocket, or any one elses.
Do not let anyone tell you this treaty is for the sake of artists.
The numbers of people out on the streets in Poland have been an inspiration. We know the combination of protest and political pressure works. The Polish government has suspended the ratification process. They have been joined by the Czech republic, Slovakia, Latvia and Germany. However we can not stop here.
ACTA has only taken an arrow to the knee.
Today we must aim for the heart.
Today we must finish it off.
Can we beat ACTA?
Yes we can. Because beat it, we must.
I took over 500 throughout the day, sp I thought I’d share some of them here.