Europe Rises Up Against ACTA

Widespread Protests Are Starting to Turn the Tide Against Anti-Democratic Bill

The widespread protests against the anti-democracy bill ACTA by the Polish people have forced Poland’s prime minister to stall – or perhaps even back out – of the treaty. As TechDirt notes:

Following the growing protests about ACTA in Europe, as well as signs of US meddling, Poland’s prime minister is making it clear that Poland will not ratify ACTA for the time being, leading to speculation that the EU may not actually join ACTA.

Tusk’s backtracking could spell the end of ACTA for the entire European Union. If Poland or any other EU member state, or the European Parliament itself, fails to ratify the document, it becomes null and void across the union. As it stands, there are already five member countries that have not even signed ACTA.

“I share the opinions of those who from the beginning said that consultations were not complete,” Tusk said, according to a report in Wirtualna Polska. The 54-year-old prime minister added that a Polish rejection of ACTA is now on the table, and admitted that he had previously approached the agreement from a “20th century” perspective, due to his age.

The Slovenian ambassador to Japan has apologized to her country and her children for signing ACTA, saying she signed it because her government told her to, and “out of civic carelessness” in not bothering to understand what ACTA meant before signing it.

Bulgarian and Polish MPs wore Guy Fawkes masks to protest ACTA. Again, from TechDirt:

We recently pointed out that a bunch of Polish politicians wore Guy Fawkes/Anonymous masks in Parliament to protest ACTA:

It appears that some politicians in Bulgaria thought that was a good idea, and have done the same thing:

Indeed, even the elderly are wearing Guy Fawkes masks in protest of ACTA:

European Parliamentarian Marietje Schaake writes:

As a Member of the European Parliament, I very much welcome the increased attention the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has received in the past weeks. It has taken a while for massive outcry to emerge, but we are seeing protest voices getting louder and louder.

ARS Technica reports that the Greek Ministry of Justice was hacked by anonymous:

The Greek Ministry of Justice had its Web site defaced by Greek and Cypriot Anonymous-affiliated hackers (a mirror of the defaced site is available here). The hackers included a video message (now removed) complaining that the Greek government had abandoned the democratic will of its people and was instead bending to the will of the IMF and the EU.

Greece is expected to accept IMF funds in an effort to allow its government to bring some semblance of sustainability to its finances, but Anonymous believes that this move will “introduce a new dictatorship upon [the Greek] people’s shoulders and allow the bankers and the monarchs of the EU to enslave them both economically and politically.”

The defaced site itself focused on an anti-ACTA message. It warned that Greece had two weeks to “stop ACTA,” and that if it failed to do so, some 300 sites would be defaced. The next targets will include both media and ministry sites, with the hackers announcing that they already had passwords for most sites and that this was “JUST the BEGINING [sic].”

Swedes are out in force protesting ACTA. As The Local reports:

Over 10,000 Swedes had pledged to take part in demonstrations in Stockholm and other cities on Saturday to protest against the ACTA anti-piracy legislation which is set to go before the Riksdag later this year.

The demonstration, held at midday on Sergels Torg in the centre of Stockholm, featured speeches from MEPs Christian Engström of the Pirate Party, Carl Schlyter of the Green Party and Mikael Gustavsson of the Left Party.

Over eleven thousand people had signed up to attend the Stockholm demonstration on Facebook by 10am on Saturday.

Christian Engström told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) daily that with indications that Poland’s parliament is set to reject the controversial international anti-piracy legislation, the pirate movement had wind in its sails.

“1.4 million signatures have been collected through an online petition and there have been riots in Poland. There now seems to be a commitment among citizens so I feel very hopeful,” he told DN.

By all accounts, the number of ACTA protests in Europe is overwhelming:

But that only tells half of the story.

As Pirate Party found Rick Falvinge reports:

Just look at this map. I’ve never seen anything like it in terms of people all across Europe demanding their freedom of speech and being angry against backroom corporativist deals that steals their most basic civil liberties.


This is not Hollywood versus Silicon Valley, as oldmedia likes to frame it. This is Hollywood versus The People. For decades, they have trained us to think in black and white, in good versus evil fighting for domination of the free world. And now, they’ve gone and put themselves in the role of evil villain.

The copyright cartel thought they were battling Google.

They’re not.

They’re waging war against the people, with the help of the politicians.

And we’re not standing for it. We can’t change the copyright cartel, but we can send a clear message to the politicians that 250 million Europeans sharing and preserving contemporary culture is not a problem. It is a power base of 250 million voters that will kick you out of office if you dare so much as touch the net.

And there are visible cracks in the façade, especially seeing Poland falter and the copyright cartels visibly shaken from the SOPA defeat in the US, with the politicians having started to pay attention to what the Internet wants. We can win this.

Today, Sweden rallies. List of rallies below (via Christian Engström, Member of European Parliament):

  • Stockholm: Sergels Torg, 12 noon. [Facebook]
  • Göteborg: Götaplatsen, 12 noon. [Facebook]
  • Malmö: Stortorget, at the Karl X Gustav statue, 12 noon. [Facebook]
  • Helsingborg: at the Magnus Stenbock statue, 13:00. [Facebook]
  • Umeå : Apberget, 12 noon. [Facebook]
  • Kalmar: Giraffens Köpcentrum, 12 noon. [Facebook]
  • Sundsvall: Torget, 12 noon. [Facebook]
  • Karlstad: Stora Torget, 12 noon. [Facebook]
  • Borlänge: Jussi Björlings torg, 12 noon. [Facebook]

(The observant will note that less than half of these rallies are marked on the already-impressive map of European rallies. Makes me wonder what the map would look like if all rallies were included.)

Most of Europe will rally next Saturday, on February 11. That’s going to be something, too. Let’s give Europe the best of precursor to those rallies from Sweden that they could possibly get!

As of early morning on February 4, 11,000 people have committed to coming to the Stockholm rally, with another 3,500 maybes. Those are numbers that would overfill the Plattan plaza by a wide margin. I’ll be at the rally in Stockholm, Sweden, and will be taking plenty of imagery and will follow up here.

UPDATE AT 1500: ***

Rally at the Sergels Torg plaza in Stockholm, Sweden. Anna Troberg, leader of the Swedish Pirate Party, speaking (at left) and maybe 1/3 of the crowd.

The turnout was like nothing I’ve seen for a February rally in Sweden. In -20°C, there were well over a thousand people protesting corporate rights over their freedom of speech; normally, you’re lucky getting 50.

Also, there was a very clear recurring theme among the Members of European Parliament speaking, MEPs from three different parties. They all told the story of how software patents had been defeated in Europe, followed by the crucial “amendment 138″ in the Telecoms Package, which aimed to shut people off en masse from the Net. Well, thanks to diligent activists and people on the inside, we managed to get as strong safeguards in place as possible against shutting people off. But the monopoly lobbyists never quit. Now they’re at it again, this time saying that if authorities can’t shut people off en masse due to that “amendment 138″, maybe they can get private corporations – the ISPs – to do it instead through third-party liability forcing certain terms of service and wiretapping. Hence, ACTA.

Fortunately, and this was a consistent message from all Members of European Parliament, we have the blueprint for defeating ACTA. We need to repeat what we did with the software patents and with the Telecoms Package. It takes hard work, it takes tons of activism, but we know exactly what to do and how to do it, and most importantly: we know that we can win.

As the rally concluded, everybody was determined to win this fight, having heard the clear message that it takes work but is perfectly doable.

UPDATE 2: There are more photos from Christian Engström, Member of European Parliament here. Free for any use (CC0 / Public Domain). Here’s one of his photos, showing the protester crowd:

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  • lukas

    We will win this, don’t worry.
    Corporations are mega strong but not strong enough to overcome 250 million of angry ppl. 🙂


  • Broke Musician because of pirates

    GW, you’re not a moron, so I wonder what you think of this: Do you think that the apparent support for pirating music has been a subtle attempt by the global elites to impoverish the artist community, which has always been for revolutionary change, and has always been with the revolutionary masses.

    How could another John Lennon ever exist if the only money provided to artists are given to the chosen tools like American Idol or Kanye PUKE? The masses have lost the great artist voices that have inspired all the progressive movements, and now we have rising protests with NO MUSIC LEADERSHIP AT ALL. Oh, except, of course, the old has-been standbys like CS&N.

    Why do you think there is no music connected to this global mass protests?

    Gee, George, WHY???

    Because the elites has schemed to impoverish (and therefore remove the independence of) the artists who would be voicing support and rallying the masses to continue.

    You will have NO new Lennon, until you realize that starving the artists is the reason. Not only is the incentive gone, but the capacity has also been removed by pirating, and PIRATING ALONE!!!!

    Tell me that isn’t the game plan of the global elite, and then tell me again why you support pirating.

    • Agnes Andrzejczyk

      Hmmm….So you think that all this people protesting because they want to pirate somebody’s music?

    • Musician against Industry

      since my own music belongs to a rather uncommon / non-chart-type subgengre (Ambient- electronica) my view on this is somewhat more relaxed.
      I support file sharing for various reasons:
      – it enables me to promote my music, reach a potentially world wide audience without a money
      grabbing corp pocketing the most of the incoming cash…
      – the X-factor would be there with or without internet piracy.
      since every muppet can “produce” a tune on their pc’s or even on a ps3 by simply looping a 4 bar beat and then climaxing into the microphone (or so it seems) the industry embraces this garbage these days.
      we wont get another Lennon or David Bowie anytime soon mainly because the media in general is too broad these days.
      Think back to the 80’s there were a few tv and radio stations about which ran the charts..
      A concert like Live-Aid was a world wide event and anybody you ask likely still recalls what they did and where they were when it was aired.
      Nowadays it takes something along the lines of 9/11 to have that kind of impact on the masses as a whole.

      We are overfed with choice, even without piracy. Problem is , most of the available options are not necessarily to the individuals liking… this is where File sharing comes in… legal or illegal aside.
      If you happen to be looking for some obscure prog rock band from the 70’s for example you likely have no choice but to download it “illegally” since no shop sells the album anymore, not online or otherwise.
      But if you want the latest Justin whatever or ms GAGA you are spoiled for choice.

      All my music is available through Creative Commons, should i ever become somewhat popular i can choose to release songs myself, online, however i like it… there are lots of musicians communities out there providing a shop option where you can determine the value your music has. 10cent per song or 50 dollar/euro. Its up to the musician.

      And you wont feed corporations whos business model is based on 1950’s technology.

      just my 2 cent of course.
      i dont expect everybody to agree.

  • Broke Musician because of pirates


    • Musician Freed by the internet

      You should change your name to “Broke Musician because of greedy labels”. Labels have stolen so much more from musicians than a kid downloading a song. Get a grip. Labels OWN you by contract. Deal with it. The internet frees musicians from the tyranny of labels, granting them full artistic freedom, and 100% of profits! What is your cut in your contract? Labels are fast becoming a part of the history of music, and like the dinosaurs the giants will fall. You must be a lazy musician that depends on label money and a PR firm to convince people you’re any good. Those days are over. Now you actually have to produce music people are willing to spend money on. Too bad for you. :^<

      • Broke Musician because of pirates

        “Now you actually have to produce music people are willing to spend money on.”

        You really are stupid, aren’t you? I mean, really dumb, and ignorant.

        Nobody is spending money when they can download it for free and not even leave the house. Now that it has finally started to affect Reed-Elsevier and Wiley, it has finally got some political clout, due to the fucking parasites in congress. It took until it finally hit some politically influential billionaires to finally get some notice.


        You cannot rationalize away your thieving. You are a thief if you have downloaded copyrighted works without paying the owner of that work.


    • Broke Musician because of Pirates

      I am sorry people I guess I was rude because my music sucks!

    • mauro

      Go to the hell and stop making your stupid music. Nobody cares of pop idiots, this is about FREEDOM.

    • kalosze

      you probably are not good enough as a musician, that is why you are ‘broke’…

  • Broke Musician because of pirates

    250 million thieves are angry!!!

    Tell me, George, why is Rapidshare still sharing?

    Because they’re based in Switzerland, you know, the land of the poor and underclass.

    Elites win through pirating, figure it out, morons!

  • British reader

    If you are reading this in Britain, please sign the on-line e-petition

    ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) Should not be signed by the UK govenment

  • TheRealPirates

    Who helped to create and then aggressively promote “pirating”?

    Why that would be the same people who are behind SOPA, ACTA, and all other attempts to totally control the World Wide Web.

    Why? Same reasons as always; The usual suspects – create the problem then offer a solution (that is total control of all).

    Here’s all the documentation of their scam – including some major crimes they’ve committed:

    “How CNET/CBS Interactive Ignited and Fueled the “Phenomenon of Internet Piracy””
    ( collected and now made public by Musicians, Film Directors)

    Actor, director, business competition of the usual suspects, CEO, Founder of FilmOn TV Networks,

    “Alki David Sues CBS For Justice 4 Artists”

    More details on the scam and who is behind it:

    “STOP SOPA – by Michael Mozart”

    These “laws” have nothing to do with protecting copyrighted materials, but are about eliminating all competition to the “1%” who are now going after total internet control.

  • Alex

    It sounds like this “Broke Musician because of Pirates” is an industry plant. Most musicians only make 7 cents on every CD sold, music industry lawyers make more on the cd sales then the artist. I have been in this business since the 70s, and I have no idea what he is talking about.

  • So “broke musician,” why is it that NO popular musicians have come to the forefront in support of this police state style ACTA agreement?
    Why have NO actors or actresses endorsed it publicly?

    It is because it would benefit
    1. profiteering middlemen, and not the creative geniuses but those that have no talent except for rippinmg people off
    2. police states and any type of political repression that would use your data.

    As for me, if a really good artist asks me to contribute I will.

    • Broke Musician because of pirates

      Bill Maher came to his senses last week. Sorry, ever heard of Metallica?

      The entire music world AND publishing houses (print, too) are being stolen from by the enabling pirates. You apparently don’t want to find legitimate solutions for stopping the outright THEFT!


  • The smaller skirmishes are fine, to be sure, but the Money Master Mafia MUST be completely driven out of everything to do with money creation and financial matters. Unless and until that happens, absolutely nothing meaningful will or can change. Still, thanks for the fine piece, GW.

  • Wild Bill

    This has a lot more to do with civilization that just music.

    Starving musicians should get some type of pay pal account and use better marketing skills if they want to profit from their music.

    • Broke Musician because of pirates

      Pay pal account????

      You just don’t fucking get it!

  • observer

    I just want to point out that for the majority of Poles who are protesting contra ACTA, the Pact just means economic enslavement of the nation by big, mostly American corporations!!!

  • Broke Musician because of pirates

    Incredible defense, thieves!

    There is no way to defend sharing. It is theft, and you are a fucking asshole in denial if you disagree.


    Give me my ticket to get free rent, food, gas, anything I want for fucking FREE, or shut the FUCK UP you FUCKING THIEVES!!!!!


    • Cris

      You really don’t get it, do you? Opposing to ACTA is not about pirating music…

      From your comments I got an impression that because you pirate all the music you expect the others to do the same and therefore you think that all the people who are against ACTA are pirates. And by the way – downloading/sharing something doesn’t mean that it is pirating. I often share and send MP3 files to my friends with music that I (!) HAVE COMPOSED – according to your logic it is pirating. *facepalm*
      I don’t know where you come from, but normal people still value the work artists have done and pay for it. I agree that there are people who download random stuff because they just can and I am against it. But I feel really sorry for you If you think that this is the case all the time. Internet is not the reason why you are broke.

    • Seriously

      If your music is like your arguments here, I understand why you’re broke. Musicians don’t get money from selling CD’s, a guy here mentioned something about 7 cents. I know in hip hop musicians make a lot of money from concerts, producing, from starting a cloth line, etc. But artists who go ”platinum”sometimes are left with as little as 15 000$ from sold CDs- most of the money go for promoting new songs (internet freedom actually helps in this case a lot), for paying your manager etc.. I am not saying 15 000$ is nothing, I am saying they make 40-50 000$ (or even more) a night from concerts. And last but not least – this protest is not about downloading music etc, it is about internet freedom. It is about fighting so that we do not become a world governed by global police.

  • Sm

    Looks like we have a corporate troll wandering around…Broke Musician because of pirates. Ask TLC
    or Toni Braxton how it works, how the music company contracts and labels have ripped them off.
    The corporations are pushing ACTA so there will be no chance for any “artist” to support themselves.

  • observer

    “Broke Musician because of pirates”, if in your music every second word is a f…word, I´m not surprized that no one wants to buy it!

  • Voldemar

    Support ACTA, and you’ll be supporting people that put rootkits on your PC just to check that you’re not pirating:

    Oh, and that’s when you actually buy a CD.

  • Padre of Lakeland

    Broke Musician:
    Its been little more than a hundred years since tech allowed sound to be copied, followed by film. Before that, musicians and actors were paid for their performance. Once. They were not allowed to ban the people who watched and listened from singing their songs or speaking their lines. Now you do something once (like getting elected to Congress) and expect compensation for the rest of your life, and no one else can use that recording (even if they paid for it).
    Face it. In this economy necessities trump entertainment. It isn’t the super rich, or even well off, doing the file sharing: a lot of them are people who wouldn’t have bought the music/movie anyway.
    Finally, if I hear or see something online I like I’ll buy it. If I want it in my collection. But there’s a lot of cr** out there that barely passes (or not) the first experience of it. No reason to have to buy to find out (or buy an album of cr** because you like one song).
    So you can’t make a living as a musician without ACTA? Maybe you should do what other WORKING people do, which is work every day, instead of whining that your one-hit wonder won’t support you for life because of file sharing. [Of course the down side of file sharing is everyone has stopped going to concerts…, what.., really? Well they’ve stopped going to all live entertainments…, your sure? Really? Well, apparently some people are just too stupid to realize they could have stayed at home and done the same thing on their computer.]

    • mary gold

      Consider artists who paint….. I buy his painting, I hang it in my home. Should I charge every one that sees it a dollar and send this off to the artist who painted it as a royalty ?
      As far as SOPA & ACTA these are just smokescreens for internet take over & censor ship.
      The elites want to control the average person. They want to shut down private blogs, shut down privately made U Tube videos, shut down alternative health websites, shut down Canadian & foreign websites that sell seniors medication that is half the price paid in a US
      pharmacy. They want to shut down “hate sites”, I don t like hate sites but heck there is freedom of speech let em hate if they want to it ll give them an ulcer eventually.

  • Richard Wells

    “Broke Musician because of pirates”

    If the melody and content of your music is like your choice of words in your concerns about so-called pirates, then might I suggest that your are probably broke because you do not have much talent ? Please list all your songs/music that you feel have not been paid for and I’m sure someone will play a little violin just for you…

    Look, I have NEVER downloaded any music or video from the Internet, no have I any desire to do so. But I have no real concern about such actions as I see the larger benefits for all that can accrue from the public-domaining of music or whatever. We are in a new paradigm and the old Controllers have had their day – and they don’t like it. They have to get on board or get out of the way, it’s as simple as that. This ACTA rubbish might have some good intentions behind it (but I doubt it) – however, it seems to me to me, to be the actual path to the destruction of the music industry – NOT its saviour. I can ‘Imagine’ a young Lennon would have been shoulder to shoulder with those opposing draconian laws like this ACTA – he would be turning in his grave I suspect at its proposals…and I also suspect that there are actually other ‘Lennons’ out there, and it is through an unrestricted Internet that their fame (and wealth) will emerge to dwarf any artist of the dinosaur past. The only challenge that remains is to devise more equitable financial conduits (or use existing ones) that send the wealth where it belongs – to the artists – not to the no-talent, shiny-assed, arm-chair artistic experts, who while festering in their corporate greed, turn artists against those who love and support their work.

  • Please read the fine print

    See “Broke Musician because of pirates” you should really watch this video:
    because it explains how the people supporting SOPA (and now ACTA) are RESPONSIBLE for pirating. The video is kind of long and shows all the proof, but let me sum it up for those of us to busy to watch it.

    Bascially, the companies supporting SOPA and suing pirates are LEGALLY responsible for any copyright infringement done by said pirates because they DISTRIBUTED and ENCOURAGED the file sharing software. A SUPREME COURT ruling says that those who distribute and encourage file sharing software are legally responsible for the copyright infringement caused by these devices. Technically, all these companies suing pirates should be suing themselves.

    Now, I am not saying that pirating is the right thing to do, but according to the law… The pirates are the legal responsibility of the companies suing them, and those companies suing pirates shouldn’t be getting any money in a court of law.

  • SomeRandomGuy

    I dont think people download stuff just because they can..
    To be honest, they do it cause they dont have the money for it, you’re forgetting that there are poor countries, like Russia, Estonia, etc. Where it’s easier & cheaper to download a file, rather than buy it.
    The only way to stop pirating is for publisher/copyright holder to give more opportunities than sites like thepiratebay do. For example, making it cheaper, having discounts , providing better service i.o.
    Oh, and pirating isnt as bad, it makes things go viral faster.
    For example: I did download (pirate) minecraft in 2011, liked it, played it for 2-3 months straight, and then BOUGHT it. I dont see the problem , to be honest.. ACTA should be stopped… Not cause of the pirates, but because we will NOT have freedom of freespeech, we will be watched all the time, and I dont want to be watched, not because I have something to hide, but because it’s just dirty, it’s private. Basicly, it the same as if they’ll just put a camera in my room. I’ll feel uncomfortable being watched.
    ‘Nuff said, ACTA should be Stopped!