Taking to the streets: Anti-ACTA activists of the world, unite!
19 towns in Romania took the streets on Feb 11th, at -12 Celsius degrees, in a coordinated effort widely promoted through social media networks. According to the press, over 2000 people marched through the city centre in Cluj, which is a real crowd (anti-government protests only gathered couple hundred people!). Some sources say that the crowd in Cluj was even bigger than in the capital city Bucharest. I’ve seen mostly young people, but not only: from 12 year olds to pensioners, people had a common voice shouting: "ACTA you can bet/ Romania will strike back", “We apologize, we feel under surveillance”, “I’m a dissident’s son/ I use torrents” “Ole, ole, ole, our volition is candid, Romania liberated” among others having very explicit words.
With the advent of Internet, many people have chosen to spend important amounts of their everyday lives in the virtual world for a variety of reasons. It was particularly interesting to see the people “living in the Internet” walk right beside you on the streets. Even though cyber activism has gained tremendous importance and impact (Wikileaks, Anonymous, Avaaz, Change.org, etc.), the traditional marches are still able to bring up the sense of common belonging and raise the people’s subjective power, in ways that virtual activism can’t.
Arguably, an important catalyzing factor for an impressive crowd at the protests around the country was a web design website creativemonkeyz.com based right here in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Instead of posting one of their hugely popular animated comic mini-series, they released an informational and mobilizing video about the meaning and potential dangers of ACTA. Still, some teenagers were satisfied just by getting a Guy Fawkes mask, which were shared by the organizers on the spot, had little particular interest in the cause and left even before the march has started.
So, what’s in it for me? Every autumn I try to help my grandparents with the harvest. One of the biggest trademarks of Moldova is its delicious wine. It’s a tradition that every hardworking householder (“gospodar”) in the countryside has to make his own wine. I just love helping my grandfather in making wine. Usually every gospodar has his little secret ingredient, formula or method for making his wine especially tasty, with a unique aroma and flavor. Now, I if we were to take this example to the extreme, let’s imagine a possible scenario if ACTA would be ratified in Moldova or elsewhere. In the spirit of preserving the traditions and customs that span for generations, my grandfather would have to pass his secrets of winemaking to me informally. Therefore, if ACTA regulations were in place and somebody got a hold of a sample of my grandfather’s wine and patented the formula, my grandpa and I would be in serious trouble. If I understood correctly, first of all, it would be legally prohibited to use my grandparent’s recipe in making wine and even worse, we may risk serious fines or even imprisonment. It will also be illegal if I decided to commercialize my produce at the local market. In the end, when my grandfather passes away he’ll have no other choice but to take his winemaking knowledge to the grave along with him and therefore be lost and forgotten.
Another very sensitive subject to me is music. I think that 300+ GB of music that’s on my hard drive is a sufficient argument to describe my ‘addiction’ to music. The debate about the ownership, legal rights and sharing of art work has been around for ages. There are many outspoken artists when it comes to this subject. One quote that is particularly appealing to me belongs to none other than Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Probot, Them Crooked Vultures):
“I think it’s a good idea because it’s people trading music. It has nothing to do with industry or finance, it’s just people that want music and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the same as someone turning on the fu**in’ radio, it’s the same as someone putting a cassette in the cassette deck, when the BBC plays a special radio session. I don’t think it’s a crime; it’s been going on for years. It’s the same as people making tapes for each other. The industry is more threatened by it because it’s the World Wide Web and it’s a broader scope of trading, but I don’t think it’s such a fu**in’ horrible thing. The first thing we should do is get all the fu**in’ millionaires to shut their mouths and stop bitching about the 25 cents a time they’re losing”
So, this was my take on the anti-ACTA protest in Cluj. I’m sure that other Edgeryders have joined the wave of protests, so I’m curious what did other people have experienced in other towns around the world? Go ahead post your comments below and through this, we could all put together stories and try to build up a global collective statement.
I look forward to hearing from you!
P.S. If you’re as passionate and addicted as me to music you might find these videos particularly interesting and eye-opening. Hope you’ll enjoy as much as I did ;)