2011 and 2012 are turning out to be a cornerstone for the influence of Internet in politics. 2011 saw the birth of Arab Spring "#riot", and 2012 saw a president of sovereign state inviting Anonymous for consultation.
Ivo Josipovic, President of Republic of Croatia. Picture credit: Nacional.hr
Mr Ivo Josipovi?, president of Croatia became a hot item in regional media after he supported ACTA and openly attacked those who are opposing the ACTA agreement, using typical RIAA and MPAA "copying music is equal stealing bread from the store" rhetoric. According to a MPAA executive, ACTA is just SOPA/PIPA in a different shape.
Anonymous reacted swiftly and took down official pages of the said president, the Government and Ministry of International Affairs. The image problem for Croatian president exploded when mainstream media started to pay attention who actually Croatian president stands for. First of all, his press spokesperson is accused of a plot which resulted in stealing 18 million Kuna (US$3 million) by running Radio 101, the legendary radio station to bankruptcy.
Furthermore, Mr. Ivo Josipovic is the author of controversial content protection law which prejudiced every citizen of Croatia is a pirate (so called "file copying levy" – a fixed charge on each recordable medium) and one of founders of Croatian’s version of RIAA, ZAMP. Just like the U.S. counterpart, ZAMP gives ridiculously low amounts to bestselling authors, and majority of the money pie goes to record companies and music producers.
The main problem of the support for ACTA in Croatia is the fact that digital distribution services such as Apple iTunes, Amazon MP3 Store, Google Music – are not available. In fact, with the exception of Valve’s Steam (games only), there isn’t a great deal of digital distribution services available in whole of Central and Eastern Europe.
If we go into other digital content, such as movies and TV shows, services such as Netflix are only available in United States, Canada and Great Britain. That’s it – three countries out of 213. Further example is Microsoft Xbox Live – while for us in the States it’s an everyday thing, Xbox Live is available in just 35 countries across the globe. Our audio editor is currently in Israel and he was pretty surprised when he heard that Xbox 360 console is not (legally) sold in Israel, with local stores selling modded consoles.
With the limitations as they are, the base premise of content distributing lobbies such as RIAA and MPAA simply do not hold ground.
Faced with a decaying image problem (his public support tumbled down in a matter of days), President Josipovic decided to turn things around and gave the official statement in which Anonymous is invited to consult on the subject of ACTA, Internet freedom, Content protection, Content Distribution.
This is a first time we’ve heard a head of any sovereign state, or a politician is actually inviting a hacking movement to express their views on how the governmental policy on content distribution and global trade agreement (ACTA) should be implemented, and if abolished – what is the alternative.
The fact of the matter is that author, creators of content need to be paid. However, they need to be paid and protected by the laws of the country, and not having the laws of the country protecting the content distribution, not content creation lobbies. Regardless of the emotions involved in such debates, what we as the digital community need to know is that politicians are constantly courted by various lobbies. Only by raising voice and informing the politicians can laws and agreements be changed. For Croatian president, we would advise him to work on bringing the full set of digital content distribution services, and then discuss on content protection. Why iPhones are being sold in a country where you cannot legally buy music content for it?
We are aware that a lot of links in this article are in Croatian. Given the lack of information on ZAMP in English, we had to post content in local language. Please use Google Chrome or Google Translate service. Thank you.