November 29, 2005 | Suw Charman Anderson

ORG digital rights event update

We are pretty close to full on the event, but if you either can't come and previous had said you could, or if you want to come, let us know before 4.00pm this afternoon. After that, I can't reply to emails and you should just try pitching up to the door. To say that this event has been a sell-out would be an understatement. Next time, I think we will need a bigger venue...

Comments (27)

  1. Unlobotomised:
    Nov 30, 2005 at 07:21 PM

    Mailer, Coxall, Levine - "subverting their effectively infinite funding to our agenda" - so what's your agenda? What do you want the end game to look like?

  2. Martin Coxall:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 10:31 AM

    Mailer sets out the stall rather eloquently in his lengthy piece linked above.


  3. Adrian McEwen:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 12:49 PM

    Does he? There's lots of talk about helping the evil corporations to create such a terrible dystopia that it causes revolution, but what is the purpose of the revolution? What does the world look like after we succeed?

  4. Paul Crowley:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 01:19 PM

    Every effort to do anything will attract commentary like Mailer's; don't worry about it. They of course will never actually do anything to further their own idea of what should be done.

  5. Jon P:
    Nov 30, 2005 at 12:03 AM

    Couldn't stay very long but the event was succesful (and crowded). I found the strong cheese odour to be faintly disturbing, but then it was very nice cheese.

    I look forward to someone counting the index cards...

  6. Martin Coxall:
    Nov 30, 2005 at 10:41 AM

    Nick Mailer provides here a full write up of our deflating experiences with the ORG collective consciousness, here:

    Worth a read.


  7. vlado:
    Nov 30, 2005 at 03:34 PM

    unfortunately couldn't come, although would've loved to. Any notes, what happened, gossip, etc?

  8. Simon Gibbs:
    Nov 30, 2005 at 06:32 PM

    Nick Mailer's call to destroy the creative society in order to preserve it, while inflamatory, is actually interesting. Unfortunately a grand conspiracy of subversiveness and targetted inaction would be, well, a non-starter.

    How about economics? Class action law suits (think, Sony), subversive technology (p2p) and well... effective competition?

    Totally with him on education though, you need examples. Wolfgang and Sony make good examples but there is no way to create examples.

    Just thinking out loud...

  9. Martin Coxall:
    Nov 30, 2005 at 06:40 PM

    We're not advocating targetted inaction at all. Deliberately subverting the conglomerates' own hubris, by encouraging them and advising the to be ever more draconian is hardly inaction.

    It's Trotskyite direct action of the most classic and effective kind. We're subverting their effectively infinite funding to our agenda; they may even realise that. But their hubris will be powerless to resist once we've seeded them with some really nasty ideas.

    Of course, the downside to all this is that we will be hated. I can speak for Mailer, Levine and myself when I say that's fine. We abandoned all hope of being loved a long time ago.

    Infamy we can settle for.

    Could you expand on what you meant by "Class action law suits (think, Sony), subversive technology (p2p) and well

  10. john:
    Dec 02, 2005 at 11:17 AM

    i would point out if you want to send a letter to MEPs then you better have done it by monday as all the groups decide their position a week before the plenary vote

  11. Simon Gibbs:
    Dec 02, 2005 at 12:14 PM

    @john, you don't say what issue you are talking about... Copyright? Data retention?

  12. john:
    Dec 02, 2005 at 04:58 PM

    Sorry wasn't clear - data retention; the LIBE report is being voted on the 12th and all the Parliamentary groups meet on Tuesday to decide their positions. There is some interesting new stuff on Statewatch about recent discussions after the JHA Council on the 1st for those that are interested in this kind of thing. Christ knows what is going to happen with this one, the Council still isn't anywhere near agreeing internally according to the docs on Statewatch so perhaps they might have to accept what comes out of the Parliament. V complex...
    I would also highlight the fact that the Commission is calling for input on the Telecoms Regulatory Package ( review, which is pretty important as it is the framework for infrastructure regulation in the EU. More worrying I would have thought is the proposed review of Television without Frontiers which could have enormous impact for digital content online, I'm quite surprised it hasn't been mentioned on here before. The Commission's goals are somewhat unclear to say the least and could result in filtering and online content regulation to comply with their stated public policy goals. More on Euractiv and Ofcomwatch

  13. Kevin Marks:
    Dec 02, 2005 at 10:18 AM

    Levine, Coxall and Mailer started out slumming and moved on to trolling.
    ORG should indeed be a 'big tent', as these issues do not divide cleanly along party or ideological lines. I've mentioned before that there is a useful commonality with libertarian campaigners.
    However, lets leave these self-indulgent self-styled Troskyites out of it.
    As a gedankenexperiment, let's briefly grant their nihilistic, 'grind the faces of the poor so they rebel' premise. For that kind of inhuman conspiracy to work, you have to keep it secret, you dozy fuckwits.
    If you want to stage a long march through the institutions, bog off and do it quietly.

  14. Suw Charman:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 10:43 PM

    Simon, yes, I'm planning on writing a summary just as soon as I can. I've been up to my eyeballs in trying to get admin things sorted out, plus deal with press enquiries, and collaborate with other NGOs on data retention. Not to mention running my own life and earning the money that has allowed me to do this for the last five months.

    The quietude isn't a sign of deadness, it's a sign of being very busy being alive.

  15. Simon Gibbs:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 10:51 PM

    Suw, good to hear! and yes, while I can't speak for anyone else, I do appreciate that the whole life-running thing is important too!

  16. Suw Charman:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 10:55 PM

    Thank you, Simon. For the sake of transparency, I work about three days a week for clients, and about three days a week for ORG. Without the former, I couldn't possibly do the latter, but sometimes both ORG and my clients demand a lot from me simultaneously. The last couple of weeks, and next week, it's been like that. It really isn't that I've deserted the blog, it's that I'm too busying *doing constructive stuff*.

    Soon, however, you will see the results of said constructive stuff, and hopefully then you'll agree it was time well spent.

  17. Nick Mailer:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 05:27 PM

    I don't know if ORG can stand for anything substantive at the moment, frankly. It can send press releases, and be a tempering voice; but I'm not convinced that a tempering voice is particularly useful at the moment: the more intemperate the Hegemony, the quicker it'll fall. I am minded of a referendum held in 80s apartheid South Africa, where the white population were to vote whether to give the black majority and modicum of voting rights, a separate parliament for black people and Asians and so on. The radical left sided with the racist right in voting NO for this proposal, because they realised that fudged compromise was worse than no change at all. The radicals had enough confidence in their cause to know that the simmering discontent of no change at all was better than a fizzled compromise.

    In more mundane a history, I note that the AFFS (Association for Free Software) has been effectively defunct for over a year now, never having achieved much in its short life. I was at its little birth meeting, where a similar argument ensued, my friends and I got to play Cassandra:

  18. Simon Gibbs:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 10:34 PM

    Can we please hear an official summary of what happened at the meeting? It has been more than 48 hours... is somebody injured?

  19. Nick Mailer:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 10:38 PM

    Must say, this website and the general lack of responsiveness in hardly encouraging. It's ludicrous that my "travesty" remains one of the few records of the event. And before someone says "you try better", I refer you to the CUT website ( And it was all done by hand - no bloggery! Tsk.

  20. Levine:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 05:31 PM

    Well, Mailer has elucidated a set of practical steps he is interested in seeing pursued. Logically they appear sound, though empirically I am still dubious. However, as the comments show, people seem to be afraid of debating the dubious benefits of the holy trinity of blogs, mailing lists and press releases which form the default actions that groups like ORG, AFFS and the FSFE all resort to.

    I had assumed we all know what the problems are (patents, copyrights, bad media companies, privacy of data etc). If you don't know what the problems are, you are not paying attention and you can go back to watching I'm A Celebrity. I don't think we need another meeting to produce a list of what we are all concerned about. It comes up time and time again at every one of these type of meetings. It is getting dull.

    I had assumed the ORG was the nascent EFF-Europe or intended to become the nascent EFF. You may not agree with the EFF's remit but at least, in its own small way, it is organised and doing something other than putting bits of white card board on a wall.

    I freely admit that currently, in a full time job, it is not my priority to lead the faithful into jihad against the media companies. But I will donate freely to an organisation that actually likes it is going to achieve something. The current signs from the meeting on Monday were not positive, but I am ever an optimist.


  21. Unlobotomised:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 05:17 PM

    Make that Levine, Coxall and Mailer.

  22. Martin Coxall:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 05:26 PM

    Come, we spent three hours working on an elborate Trotskyite subversion mechanism, wherein we use the Media Conglomerates' own budgets and hubris tou our ends, becoming the bad guys in the process.

    I think the first thing we should be campaigning for would be to:

    1) Ensure that all copyright violations become imprisonable criminal offences Europe-wide

    2) Establish a European IP-enforcement police force with length detention powers, forced-entry rights and permission to hack and disable people's computers remotely.

    3) An anonymous helpline whereby Children can report their parents IP violations and win prizes.

    These three proposals should form the starting point of ORG's proposals for extending the DMCA as we move towards the elimination of outdated notions such as "limited term" and "fair use".

    That should get the ball rolling.


  23. Unlobotomised:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 05:16 PM

    It seems you (levine, maxwell, mailer) actually don't know what you want ORG to represent or stand for, let alone do in practical terms. I think that was the point of us all turning up to at least provide some input. So if you (and others) would enlighten me as to what your concerns are regarding digital rights (et al) it will help me make up my mind to join ORG or not.

  24. Levine:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 04:38 PM

    I did not accuse ORG of being intolerant of dissent. Quite the opposite. It seemed too keen to incorporate every possible opinion, issue and grievance that everyone has. I fear it will spend too much time doing this and not enough time actually undertaking effective actions.

    More specifically what I was distressed by was when I tried to critically question practical steps that were being undertaken, which I may have been doing as a devil's advocate, this seemed to make people uncomfortable. I would be more than happy to donate

  25. Martin Coxall:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 04:15 PM

    The organisation isn't trying to "bring about wider change" at all. That is our complaint.

    ORG wants to be the latest in a long line of mediocre, Blairite-friendly organisations that sends out Guardian press releases, and complains politely when Media Conglomerate X goes "a bit far", and succeeds in getting a small, meaningless concession, and then spends the next two months congratulating itself, slapping itself on the back, and generally being smug, self-satisfied but effectively useless.

    That's not fighting, it's just pathetic.

    and this is no more than the usual list of charges, all of which will always be levelled at the start of any project...

    No. Just at any project that has no higher aspiration than being Yet Another New Media Talking Shop. "Facilitatory Space" "Media Clearing House" "Management Consultant" "Edutainment".

    ORG's choice of nouns speaks volumes. It says "we'd rather be loved than right, any day".

    I've been to enough launches to enough of these woeful talking shops, and talked to enough well-trimmed goatee polite Fabian men, and Media-spectacled Newmeedja types to know a talking shop car crash that will achieve nothing if it continues along this tragic path.


  26. Paul Crowley:
    Dec 01, 2005 at 02:17 PM

    In more detail:

    Levine charges ORG with

    * ineffectiveness
    * preaching to the choir
    * earnestness
    * groupthink
    * intolerance of dissent
    * being the sort of people who would do that sort of thing

    and this is no more than the usual list of charges, all of which will always be levelled at the start of any project to bring about wider change. "Intolerence of dissent" in this context means "disagreeing with the critics".

    I'm by no means sure that ORG is the best way forward, but there's absolutely no substance to the juvenile crap being proffered as a critique here. When he says "We departed feeling arrogantly intelligent..." it's clear that was the whole purpose of the exercise.

  27. GRIFFIN34Pamela:
    Mar 04, 2010 at 07:25 PM

    I took my first business loans when I was 32 and it supported my family a lot. Nevertheless, I need the student loan once more time.