Friday, June 29, 2012

Hollywood's Big Media Is Stealing YOUR Internet


Today's the big hearing. We told you that we're beating back Hollywood's attempts to take over the Internet again.

Today's court hearing on the MegaUpload case will decide if Hollywood will be able to use the courts to undermine Cloud storage and social media platforms. Will you help us fight back (again)?

If you haven't yet, please click here to sign on to our legal brief, and make sure the court understands that millions of Internet users will be impacted by the judge's decision.

Whether you've signed or not, please use these links or forward the email below to urge your friends to get involved right away. If you're on Reddit, please post a link to, or vote up any such links that have already been posted. We need as many people as possible to sign on to the brief so that the judge understands the broad impacts of his decision.

If you're already on Facebook, click here to share with your friends.

If you're already on Twitter, click here to tweet about the campaign: Tweet

For more background, or to forward to your friends, here's the email we sent yesterday:


It's us versus THEM again.

Hollywood attorneys are trying to use the courts to circumvent Congress and implement a backdoor SOPA/PIPA scheme.

Fight Back: YOUR FILES ON Google, Dropbox, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, etc. and even your emails are in jeopardy.

We need to make sure the judge understands that his decision will affect millions of people.

Demand Progress is fighting back in the courts and standing up for Internet users. We are taking on the United States and the MPAA. Please click here to support our legal brief -- the court will be hearing the case THIS WEEK.

BACKGROUND: One day after the Internet staged a massive blackout to protest Congress's Internet censorship legislation (SOPA/PIPA), the United States responded by seizing millions of ordinary user files hosted on the popular website

With an aim of shutting down Megaupload and other Cloud-based hosting services (like Dropbox, YouTube or even your email provider), the government is trying to claim website operators should face decades in prison for the misdeeds of some of their users.

But while they pursue trumped up criminal charges against the companies' founders, they are shutting down dozens of websites, and leaving ordinary Internet users without any way of retrieving their files.

Please click here to sign on as a supporter of our legal brief: The judge will be hearing the case THIS WEEK, and we need to make sure he understands that his ruling affects millions of us.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak called the case against Megaupload a "threat to innovation". Wozniak likened the Megaupload site to a highway and those who shared pirated movies and songs to speeding motorists.

"You don't just shut down the whole street because somebody is speeding," he said.

Numerous laws on the books already give copyright holders plenty of avenues to stop actual infringement, but that's not enough to satisfy Hollywood's lawyers and lobbyists.

And get this: The prosecutor in the case, Neil MacBride, previously served as the Anti-Piracy Vice President of the Business Software Alliance, where he represented the intellectual property interests of countless multinational corporations.

Now Hollywood's lobbyists, represented by the Motion Picture Association of America, want him to make it nearly impossible for ordinary Internet users to get their property back.

Please click here to sign on to our legal brief, and make sure the courts understand that millions of Internet users will be impacted by the judge's decision.

And please use these links or forward this email to urge your friends to get involved right away -- we need as many people as possible to sign on to the brief so that the judge understands the broad impacts of his decision.

If you're already on Facebook, click here to share with your friends.

If you're already on Twitter, click here to tweet about the campaign: Tweet

One last thing -- Demand Progress's small, dedicated, under-paid staff relies on the generosity of members like you to support our work. Will you click here to chip in $5 or $10? Or you can become a Demand Progress monthly sustainer by clicking here. Thank you!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Los Angeles Police Are Tracking YOUR License Plate

Big Brother is watching wherever you drive -- using a vast computerized network that tracks license plates on streets and highways!

That's the shocking news according to Jon Campbell, who writes in the L.A. Weekly (June 21, 2012):

Using a vast and automatic electronic tracking system that is all but unknown to the California public, on the day of Robles' murder, police in Los Angeles County cities had made a detailed record of the alleged getaway vehicle's movements.

The information came complete with GPS coordinates — even photographs.

In a situation evoking the hit movie Minority Report, the suspects were being watched even before they were considered suspects.

L.A. Weekly has learned that more than two dozen law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County are using hundreds of these "automatic license plate recognition" devices (LPRs) — units about the size of a paperback book, usually mounted atop police cruisers — to devour data on every car that catches their electronic eye.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles Police Department are two of the biggest gatherers of automatic license plate recognition information. Local police agencies have logged more than 160 million data points — a massive database of the movements of millions of drivers in Southern California.

Each data point represents a car and its exact whereabouts at a given time. Police have already conducted, on average, some 22 scans for every one of the 7,014,131 vehicles registered in L.A. County. Because it's random, some cars are scanned numerous times, others never.

Read the rest of Campbell's startling report!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

How YOU Can Protect Internet Free Speech

Josh King, reporting for ("How to Protect Free Speech, June 16, 2012):

The Stop Online Piracy Act may have been shut down at the eleventh hour, but free speech on the Internet continues to come under attack. In addition to "son-of-SOPA" (which we will surely see in the coming year, under a different name), the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and a host of proposed regulations at the state level have taken aim at the open Internet.

In response to these threats, the Internet Defense League is launching in the coming weeks. Building on the efforts that brought SOPA to a screeching halt, the league aims to fight against bad laws and restrictions on online expression, wherever they may arise.

As general counsel for Avvo, a social media startup that offers an expert-only Q&A forum and profiles and ratings of lawyers, doctors and dentists in the U.S., I've seen firsthand how those with the means to do so will exploit any opening possible to try to silence speech they do not like. I've responded to hundreds of lawsuit threats and lawsuits against Avvo on grounds ranging from privacy to commercial misappropriation to unfair competition to copyright or trademark infringement — all for activity that is soundly protected by the First Amendment.

The takeaway is simple: any attempt to regulate speech online — whether in service of "stopping piracy" or "defending against cyberattack" — must be ruthlessly interrogated for how it will be abused. Because it will be abused. Those with censorious impulses will push the four corners of the law as far as possible to silence speech they don't like.

It is depressingly common to see the mere threat of a lawsuit cause a withering of speech online. It's vitally important that we recognize and call out the certainty that even well-intentioned laws that impact expression will be used as a bludgeon against the open expression of information and ideas online. In addition to opposing SOPA and its ilk, here are three areas where companies can take a stand to protect free speech on the Internet.

Read the rest of King's important article:


Thursday, June 07, 2012

Ray Bradbury, A Writer's Writer

I discovered Ray Bradbury in a trash can. On my way home from grammar school, I saw that someone had discarded some yellowed, worn 1970s paperbacks. I salvaged all the true ghost stories and horror fiction anthologies. One Berkeley paperback contained Bradbury's "The Small Assassin," the tale of a mentally mature infant who plots his mother's murder. (Think of The Family Guy's Stewie.)

People forget that Bradbury, known for his science fiction, was also a horror writer. With "The Small Assassin," I became a lifelong Bradbury fan, whatever his story's genre.

I first met Bradbury in 1992, at a Malibu, California book-signing. (His, not mine). He loved my trash can story. One would expect the author of Fahrenheit 451 to rejoice at people rescuing any books from landfills, incinerators, or recyclers.

Read the rest of the article in the Hollywood Investigator.