ConnectedFuture.org

Crowdsourced Agenda for Free Expression

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

AN AGENDA FOR FREE EXPRESSION THAT RESPECTS CREATORS, AND EMBRACES DEMOCRACY

 

At its best, the Internet encourages us to share, use our creativity, and express ourselves freely. It fosters the same key experiences that help us preserve our imaginations and our capacity to learn as we grow from children into adults. What we’ve heard from the hundreds of thousands of Internet users worldwide who have participated in OpenMedia’s projects is that the Internet has the power to bring people together around these common learning experiences and shared values. This includes both those who want to share, and those who want to create – the Internet provides us all with new ways to exercise our right to freedom of expression. As Chris, an OpenMedia Internet Voice participant from Sweden, states: “On the Internet, free expression, creativity, education, public discourse and debate thrive like never before...The people of the world finally have a voice."1

 
Supporters like Chris inspired us to create “Our Digital Future,” an initiative to amplify and unite the voices of Internet users who are seeking new ways to protect and nourish creativity, sharing, and free expression online. Beginning in July 2012, when we launched our first online action against anti-Internet provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, OpenMedia has been rallying people worldwide to fight Internet censorship. When we asked our community in March 2013 how to best continue this work on free expression, reddit user HouseGray exemplified the feedback we were receiving: “[A]ttempts to legalize restrictions on the Internet will continue ceaselessly until laws are passed that guarantee freedoms...lobbying for laws that cement Internet freedoms and rights [will] be the only solution that will work long-term.” 2 Guided by this type of community input, we designed a consultation process with multiple stakeholder groups to decide what these pro-Internet laws might look like.
 
After a process design phase that saw input from Internet users, civil society and community organizations, and impacted businesses,3 in October 2013 we launched our interactive drag-and-drop tool. Our intensive outreach work surrounding this tool – which took participants through a set of 9 questions about copyright law in the digital age – brought together over 40,000 Internet users in less than a year to crowdsource a new vision for free expression.4 Overall, our work on free expression has engaged over 300,0005 eager Internet users all over the world through multiple platforms.
 
The 40,079 participants in our crowdsourcing tool, who came from an impressive 155 countries around the world [Image 1], felt urgency to craft a plan for a fair deal for users and creators. They felt this urgency in light of some of the worrying copyright and IP provisions being proposed in several regions,6 and in international agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)7 – a multinational trade agreement involving 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific Region, which account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP and about one-third of all world trade.8 Participants in our crowdsourcing initiative also joined over 3,000,000 supporters of diverse international civil society organizations who have expressed grave concerns about secrecy and censorship in the TPP.9
 
 
Image 1: Participants in our drag-and-drop crowdsourcing tool, by anonymized IP address
Internet Voice
“On the Internet, free expression, creativity, education, public discourse and debate thrive like never before – The people of the world finally have a voice.”
– Chris, Sweden
 
*“Internet Voices” come from the over 30,000 people who have used OpenMedia’s Internet Voice Tool (found at openmedia.org/ facetoface) or OpenMedia’s social media platforms to submit comments to the TPP negotiators. We quote these OpenMedia supporters throughout the report to bring more attention to the lived experiences of Internet users with copyright and free expression. See the chapter on “The Process” for more information about the Internet Voice Tool and the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who have spoken out for free expression.
 

 

Footnotes: 

1. “Internet Voices” come from the approximately 30,000 people who have used OpenMedia’s “Internet Voice Tool” (found at openmedia.org/facetoface) or OpenMedia’s social media platforms to submit comments to the TPP negotiators. We quote these OpenMedia supporters throughout the report to bring more attention to the lived experiences of Internet users with copyright and free expression. See the chapter on “The Process” for more information about the “Internet Voice Tool” and the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who have spoken out for free expression.

2. http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1ajboq/we_are_internet_freedom_adv...

3. See “The Process” for more information on our consultation process.

4. See “Appendix: Methodology” for full results for the drag-and-drop crowdsourcing tool.

5. Total numbers from all OpenMedia actions on free expression include: http://stopthetrap.net - 112,145 signatures, http://ourfairdeal.org - 19,694 signatures, https://openmedia.org/froman - 22,867 signatures, https://openmedia.org/censorship - 141,130 signatures, https://stopthesecrecy. net - 161,026 signatures, https://openmedia.org/expression - 62,670 signatures, https://openmedia. org/letter - 912 supporters, who used our Letter to the Editor tool, https://openmedia.org/facetoface - 29,041 participants (with duplicate actions removed, the number of unique supporters is ~316,000).

6. Other notable examples of attempts to use copyright policy to censor the Internet include the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill pushed through by lobbyists who sought to criminalize alleged copyright infringement, force ISPs to block websites suspected of promoting online sharing, and even ban companies from conducting business with “blacklisted” websites. (http:// www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/tech-news/sopas-most-frightening-flaw... predicts/article1358850/?page=all) Iterations of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), an international intellectual property agreement, also included provisions which seek criminal charges for copyright infringement.

7. https://openmedia.ca/blog/huffington-post-openmedia-op-ed-tpps-internet-...

8. http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/press-releases/2013/april/join...

9. https://stopthesecrecy.net/

10. https://openmedia.ca/blog/antarctica-vietnam-global-internet-users-are-c...