The TERFening: attempting to document a convoluted online silencing campaign

Background

A few years ago, when I shared this article about Caitlyn Jenner and another one  about Rachel Dolezal, many angry liberal friends called me “transphobic,” and told me to “educate myself.” They apparently didn’t know I had spent many years deeply involved in various queer scenes in San Francisco, and had trans friends, and was gender dysphoric myself (it resolved in my mid-20’s, which is not unusual.) Since I couldn’t “educate myself” much more on trans people and queer theory, I considered what I really hadn’t educated myself about: radical feminism. Like everyone else, I had been denouncing “TERF“s without reading anything they’d written. So I started reading, and quickly realized I was a gender-critical radical feminist. (If you’re wondering why, I suggest you “educate yourself” about radical feminism. This video is a good place to start.)

Saying you’re a gender-critical radical feminist in public is like saying, “I’m a witch! Burn me!” So I spent about a year and a half in seething, cowed silence. But finally, on February 25, 2017, I “came out.”

The TERFening

In late February I noticed my liberal friends were sharing this “meme”:

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So I posted this on Facebook (which I now call fecebook):

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You can try to read all 1000+ comments here, although fecebook organizes them so poorly they’re hard to navigate.

Now it gets rather convoluted. Some of the comments have been documented anonymously here, along with annotation. I am “user J.”

Continue reading The TERFening: attempting to document a convoluted online silencing campaign

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Youtube’s Content ID abuse is out of control

Today I received not one but two fraudulent copyright claims on my Free and Copyleft work (instances of Sita Sings the Blues and All Creative Work is Derivative). I’ve also received fraudulent claims on Copying Is Not Theft, as have others who have re-posted it and translations.

This is why I’m looking into Chinese video hosting. When China starts looking like a Free Speech haven, something is really wrong with the United States.

Authoritarian update

crossposted from Mimi & Eunice

Authoritarian

I’m re-posting this cartoon today because the US Department of Homeland Security seized more than 70 web sites over the weekend (while sites like arstechnica.com and techdirt were on vacation, and the mainstream media were devoted to stories about holiday shopping). Democrats: unless you stand up to stop this NOW, I am never voting for you again.

Mimi and Eunice: the challenge continues

So I missed my whole trip to California due to a badly-timed cold. Which means I have lots of time on my hands to bang my head into the wall that is the Mimi & Eunice web site.

I hired a developer who started building a beautiful new system in Ruby on Rails, only to discover that my web host, Media Temple, has a relatively wonky and outdated Ruby setup. That led the site to disappear for a few days. It’s potentially a really nice system (though it still has some kinks in it), but I may have to switch web hosts if I want to rely on it.

So I started uploading the strips in plain old WordPress, which is excellent in all ways but one some: the images don’t show up in all RSS feeders, they don’t show up in Facebook, and I can’t find a way to generate simple embed code for them. What am I talking about? Behold what I want, as shown on the fine comics site qwantz:

See that code it automatically generates that lets you embed any comic? I spent a day searching for a wordpress plugin that does that, and still can’t find one. Help?

And I don’t know why my Mimi & Eunice comics don’t show up in the RSS Feed in Firefox, but they do in other browsers. I already did this, and installed the AbsoluteRSS plugin. But I still can’t see the images in Firefox. Help?

I just want Mimi & Eunice to be as easily shared as possible. Help appreciated, but please don’t suggest ComicPress. Been there, done that, it has a lot of problems. Also my budget is exhausted of $$ to pay for consultants, since the Ruby on Rails project consumed it all. The nice thing about the simple WordPress setup is that each comic displays at a small size (640 pixels wide) but links to a high-res (2400 pixels wide) image suitable for printing. That’s important to me, because I want to encourage all kinds of sharing, including paper publishing. The current site has all the features I want except image embedding. Please tell me there’s a solution. Thanks. I love you.

Update: Brett Thompson has made an embed code generator for Mimi & Eunice! It looks big and text-y today but Brett says he will spruce up its appearance tomorrow. But you can start embedding Mimi & Eunice comics RIGHT NOW!

An Open Letter to Lincoln Center

Dear Lincoln Center,

On Friday, May 28, I attended a NY Philharmonic performance of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre.

All patrons were required to pass through long “security” lines and have our bags searched by guards. Those carrying cameras were forbidden from entering the auditorium and ordered to check their bags in an even longer line.

New Yorkers tolerate “security” searches because they remember the falling of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. They are willing to be treated as suspected terrorists and “guilty until proven innocent” criminals because they fear for their physical safety. They rationalize Lincoln Center’s “security” policy because they don’t want anyone bringing a bomb or weapon into a large closed space containing thousands of vulnerable people.

But cameras are not a security threat. In fact, citizen cameras increase security, and their forced removal puts us in greater danger. In the unlikely event a terrorist were able to bring a weapon into the auditorium, citizens carrying cameras would document it. Presumably Lincoln Center has its own “security” cameras, but no fixed, closed surveillance system is as effective as citizens.

I don’t trust Lincoln Center’s “security” to protect me or anyone; they are incompetent at actual security, effective only at treating patrons like suspected criminals, creating long tedious lines, and converting what was once an uplifting cultural experience into something resembling a visit to an airport. I can visit the airport for free, but being treated like a criminal at Lincoln Center cost close to $100.

After being ejected from a very long security line to enter the theater, and redirected to stand in an even longer line to the coat check, I moved my camera from  my large bag into my small purse and found another entrance to the auditorium. This line’s “security” guard did not see or feel a camera, so I was allowed in. That let me know how effective the “security” guards would be at detecting a weapon or any genuine threat: not at all. Lincoln Center’s “security” did not make me feel “secure” – quite the opposite – but it did make me feel harassed.

Why does Lincoln Center treat cameras its greatest threat to “security”? Does the organization believe that photographing its productions is “stealing”? Let me remind you that anyone who wants to copy images of Lincoln Center’s copyrighted material, is physically capable of doing so. Photos of Lincoln Center and its productions circulate in Lincoln Center’s advertising, in print and on the internet. Lincoln Center has Copyright law to protect them against such illegal image-copying. Copyright law also applies to any unauthorized photos taken by audience members. Lincoln Center may ban taking photographs in its auditoria without confiscating cameras themselves. Galleries and other performance spaces do this: they have signs that say NO PHOTOGRAPHS. Banning cameras in the theater does absolutely nothing to “protect” anyone. It does however abuse legitimate theater patrons, the ones who bought expensive tickets expecting a civilized experience. Furthermore, banning citizen cameras makes it impossible for citizens to document real danger, thereby lessening everyone’s real security.

People dress up to go to Lincoln Center. They pay hundreds of dollars. They believe it’s important to support the arts. In return, Lincoln Center treats its patrons like criminals, and exploits their fears of terrorism to enforce a misguided, dangerous, and invasive no-camera policy.

Lincoln Center should abandon its dangerous and harassing “security” policies and return to respecting its patrons.

Sincerely,

–Nina Paley
Art Lover

Correction, again

I’m reposting this (originally posted July 2009) because misinformation continues to spread all over the interwebs. Maybe I’ll post it every month.

correction

Dear Journalists Dear Journalists, bloggers, commenters, etc.,

Some of you are writing that I was forced to choose the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license because the film is violating copyright. That is completely untrue, but has become the dominant motif of stories I read about the project. The confusion is understandable, so I attempt to sort it out below.

Sita Sings the Blues is 100% legal. I am free to release it commercially, which is why the film is gaining a number of commercial distributors in addition to its free sharing/audience distribution, which is also legal, and wonderful.

Sita Sings the Blues is in complete compliance with copyright regulations. I was forced to pay $50,000 in license fees and another $20,000 in legal costs to make it so. That is why I am in debt.  My compliance with copyright law is by no means an endorsement of it. Being $70,000 in the hole reminds me daily what an ass the law is. The film is legal, and that legality gives me a higher moral ground to stamp my feet upon as I denounce the failure that is copyright.

Having paid these extortionate fees, I could have gone with conventional distribution, and was invited to. I chose to free the film because I could see that would be most beneficial to me, my film, and culture at large. A CC-SA license does not absolve a creator of compliance with copyright law. The law could have sent me to prison for non-commercial copyright infringement. I was forced to borrow $70,000 to decriminalize my film, regardless of how I chose to release it.

Note that in some ways the film is not, and never will be free. For each disc sold, distributors must pay $1.65 to these faceless money sinks.  Transaction costs raise that amount to about $2.00 per disc. That is why my own Artist’s Edition is limited to 4,999 copies. I’ve already bled $50,000 into their vampiric maws; I have no intention of paying more.

Thank you for your attention.

Love,

–Nina

What’s wrong with “streaming” DRM?

Judging from comments here, at Techdirt, and at BoingBoing, there seems to be much confusion about why I don’t want DRM on Sita Sings the Blues. The simplest explanation is this: I am making my film available to all under an open license. Allowing a party to take the benefit of that license, but then limit the rights of downstream users is inconsistent and frustrates the original purpose of the open license — to promote and facilitate access and use of the work.

Some people seem to think DRM is irrelevant on “streaming content.” I was one of them, which is why I was initially so indecisive about the Netflix streaming offer. DRM encourages people to think of certain liberties as being impossible, rather than merely taken away. Already many people think that “streaming” means “cannot be saved on my computer,” instead of “optimized for real-time flow”.  People make this false equation entirely because of user-side DRM.

So along with its other problems, DRM is a kind of anti-literacy device for the digital age.  The more hobbled people’s phones and computers and music players get, the harder it is to remember what it was like when those devices served their users rather than the monopolists. The more deeply embedded DRM becomes, the more its restrictions will come to feel like “just the way things are”, rather than an impediment that could conceivably be removed or worked around.

I respectfully submit a typical comment:

Its not a download or purchase , its “Free Streaming” . From my Roku box to my tv why should you or I care if it has drm.

This is a perfect example of the kind of illiteracy mentioned above. “…we’re talking about a stream, which by definition is not saved on your computer”.  This commenter and others have bought the industry’s definition of “stream”, even though there’s nothing inherent in streaming that prevents saving. I can’t blame them; until last week, I didn’t think about what “streaming” meant either.

Here’s another typical comment:

You’re obviously making a symbolic stand here. That’s fine. But please at least be honest about that instead of claiming that Netflix streaming is “breaking” my home electronics. My computer and my Xbox work just fine and my rights have not been violated in any tangible or meaningful way.

If data is sent to your computer, and yet your computer won’t let you save that data, than an important function of your computer has been interfered with.  Who does your computer work for, anyway, you or them? It’s not just a hypothetical breakage, either.  For example, if you wanted to divide the same incoming stream to two different computers in your house, similarly to how a “Y” pipe would do with water, Netflix DRM will prevent that.  Normally, your computer could do that just fine, but not when it’s broken.

If the quibble is with the word “broken,” we can use the less-inflammatory word “disabled,” although people are eager to forget that “disabling” a computer means “breaking it in increments.”

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My rejection of DRM is not a condemnation of Netflix (I like Netflix!) nor of those who use this very convenient service. I made this difficult decision as the author of Sita Sings the Blues. The only reason Netflix has DRM on its streams is because of pressure from the “content industry.” Well guess what – I am the content industry too, and I say no to DRM.

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Thanks to Karl Fogel for contributing to this article.

“if no one is informed, no one will object.”

My goodness, no one seems to know what grand juries are! I sure didn’t, until this week. Because they’re called “juries,” people think they’re trial juries. Not at all! Here’s a good article explaining how grand juries work by activist Craig Rosebraugh.

Grand Juries, often referred to as the “strong arm of the court system,” thrive off public ignorance, working behind closed doors and under seemingly little regulation. Often working in accordance with the Justice Department, the Grand Jury system has been, and continues to be, used for gathering intelligence and suppressing “radical” groups and organizations that oppose current governmental policies.

…..

In my experience, the most fascinating aspect about Grand Juries is that the public is largely misinformed and kept in the dark about their true nature. Most citizens do not realize that an individual called before a Grand Jury has neither the right to counsel nor Fifth Amendment protection in the proceedings. I have found that people from all walks of life are outraged when they learn of this reality.

It is this very secrecy and deception that has allowed Grand Juries to persist. It is a simple rule that says if no one is informed, no one will object.  (link)

I don’t know if it’s legal for me to write this, but I must say that so far my grand jury experience resembles the Milgram Experiment. That’s the one where an authority instructs an “average person” to administer painful electric shocks to someone else. As long as the authority figure tells them it’s ok, the “average person” just keeps pushing that shock button, ignoring the victims’ screams of agony because the authority instructs them to. Likewise, the prosecuting attorneys instruct us to ignore any details about cases they don’t control; if we ask questions about other charges, they say that’s none of our business. We don’t get to see or hear our victims; we have only authorities telling us to push the button. In a sealed, secret room. I’ve sat on my hands a number of times, but believe me, most people are happy to comply with the authorities. They know not what they do, and the system likes it that way.

Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.[4]

Please understand what grand juries are. They need to be abolished, as they have been almost everywhere outside the United States.

 

My Tax Dollars At Work

My Tax Dollars At Work

My Tax Dollars At Work

I know it’s bad timing that I made this on Veteran’s Day – I assure you it has nothing to do with veterans. It does have something to do with “the Law”. Click for full size.

Grand Fucking Jury

The Law

Pardon my French – or is that legalese?

As of today, I’m required to serve as a grand juror for the next two weeks. Meaning I had to cancel my only paid work for the month, speaking at Alma College in Michigan. The court said essentially, “tough shit.” Ironically, if I’d been mugged on the street for the same $ amount, I could initiate a trial in the very same criminal court I’m “serving” in!

Unlike trial juries, Grand Jury allows no excuses; they don’t interview you. If you’re breathing, you serve. The fact that I’m morally opposed to the drug laws that half the cases are based on is irrelevant; I’m simply advised not to vote on those.

I’m also sick – still coughing even after a month with this virus, whatever it is – but don’t have insurance or a regular doctor to write the official written excuse on official doctor letterhead. Besides, that would only postpone this; once you’re called, they keep calling you until you’re seated. They mentioned that sometimes jurors get sick while serving; one collapsed on duty recently. If I actually collapse, they’ll send a doctor. Otherwise, tough shit.

On the brighter side, I get to see up to six cases a day. Lots of fascinating stories, especially the ones that aren’t about drugs. And however much it sucks to be a juror, it sucks worse to be anyone else in that room.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why I have such a bad attitude about the law, maybe it’s because I broke federal law to make my film, and could have faced jail time myself? Or that most people I know are technically criminals also?

Don’t expect much from me until after November 23rd. I do get weekends off. And tomorrow, which is Veteran’s Day.

“Intellectual Property” is Slavery

Brain01

“Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself.”
John Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government

“Most thinkers…hold that you own your own life, and it follows that you must own the products of that life, and that those products can be traded in free exchange with others,” claims Wikipedia’s latest entry on property. “Every man has a property in his own person,” says John Locke. Ayn Rand (who I generally can’t stand, but who I’m happy to quote as a passionate defender of the sanctity of property) wrote, “Just as man can’t exist without his body, so no rights can exist without the right to translate one’s rights into reality, to think, to work and keep the results, which means: the right of property.”

You also have a property in your own MIND. That which lives in your mind, is your property. And everyone deserves Rand’s “right to translate one’s rights into reality, to think, to work and keep the results” – in other words to freely think, express, and own the contents of their own mind. That is what “intellectual property” should (but doesn’t) mean: everyone’s right to their own mind.

Instead, legally defined “Intellectual Property” means exactly the opposite: it transfers ownership of the contents of your mind to others. It alienates the ideas in your mind, from you. Is there a song running through your mind right now? It doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to Warner-Chappell. You are forbidden to express it; “performance” requires permission. “To think, to work” – interpret – “and keep the results” – record and sell copies of –  the song in your mind, are illegal.

Thus Intellectual Property gives alien, private owners title to our minds. We may think culture (songs, text, images) only in secret; any expressions of cultural thought belong not to the thinker, but to the IP owner. Your thoughts are “derivative works”; someone else has title to them. You may have “Porgy and Bess” in your mind, but interpreting or singing it out loud is forbidden. That part of your mind belongs to Gershwin’s heirs and their lackeys.

Wikipedia’s entry on Chattel Slavery states: “The living human body is, in most modern societies, considered something which cannot be the property of anyone but the person whose body it is.” The living human mind should be the same. Legally defined “Intellectual Property” is, quite simply, someone else’s ownership of your mind. If they own the right to express what lives in your mind, the right “to think, to work and keep the results,” then they own your mind; they own you. What can we call that, except slavery?

My Wikimedia Rant

Note: Please, please continue uploading my comics to WikiMedia Commons, beloved uploaders! Nina’s Adventures is next. I completely endorse and support this work! Thank you! I love you! I post the rant below because, well, it’s on my mind now, and life isn’t perfect.

Continue reading My Wikimedia Rant

Why I hate T-Mobile

The following report has nothing to do with art, film, or copyright, or anything else I care about. I’m just publishing it on my blog because there’s not much else I can do about it.

*****

Last month T-Mobile charged me about $280 over my rate plan. When I called, the Customer Service Representative (CSR) said I should have used the web site to check my minutes. There was nothing they could do now, she said.

So paid the $369.11 bill, then went to the web site and changed my plan. Last week I got a bill with $105 in extra fees. I called today, explained I’d changed my plan after talking to the CSR, and could they resolve the excess charges. No, they said, because I should have changed it by phone. I shouldn’t have used the web site. Didn’t I see the little notice on the web site saying changes wouldn’t go into effect for another month? I told them the CSR didn’t tell me I’d be penalized for using the web site. There was nothing they could do now, they said.

I asked to speak to my CSR’s supervisor. “Guy” confirmed the records showed I had indeed changed my plan online shortly after speaking with a CSR. After much pleading on my part, told me he’d split the $105 with me. I asked to speak to his boss. “If you do, I can’t guarantee my offer.”

His boss informed me there was nothing he could do, there was no way to resolve the charges, I was responsible for them because I’d changed my plan online, and I should be responsible. He said the online service was for my convenience. I said a $105 charge wasn’t convenient.  He reminded me that I could have gotten $52.50 in credit had I only accepted Guy’s offer, but now there was nothing he could do.

A CSR the previous month told me to use the web site, that my huge bill was the result of my failure to use the web site. The CSRs this month told me my huge bill was the result of my using the same web site.

T-Mobile seems to find any reason to overcharge, and no recourse for resolving problems, even when a customer genuinely wants to, and clearly makes efforts to do so. They really seem to want customers to be unable to change their plans, so they can keep charging for extra minutes. I did what they said, and they still overcharged me, blaming me for using the same web service they blamed me for not using the previous month.

There’s nothing they can do, their hands are tied, they’re helpless to help me (except Guy was briefly given miraculous powers to offer me $52.50 for a few minutes, but these powers were just as mysteriously lost when I spoke with his superior). I sure know what helpless feels like – I’ve been overbilled $375 now, after doing what the CSRs told me to do.

All I can do now is write about it.

The store, she is taking forever

Now the problem is the payment authorization service is delaying…and we can’t take orders until that’s set up…so we wait and wait. And then right when we think we’re done, some new technical glitch presents itself. It’s driving me crazy. I’m really hoping it can go live by Monday…

But we are getting closer. Click on the eentsy image below for a sneak peek screenshot of the store-in-progress.

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Lloyd Kaufman Defines Media Consolidation

Lloyd Kaufman, Chairman of the IFTA, delivers a speech on media consolidation and the dangers it poses to independent art.