Friday, May 3, 2013

Political Street Art Gets Mistaken for Banksy

M&F generally keeps its focus on Los Angeles, or sometimes places we visit.  But we do rarely venture outside the city of angeles when there is a worthy cause that deserves mentioning.  In Finland, a street artist named Sampsa has been instigating a campaign to change downloading laws to move away punishing the consumer and protecting the financial interests of the corporate label owners. Instead, Sampsa suggests implementing a file sharing system that rewards the artists with direct compensation for use of their work.  It is a strange new world, and yesterday's copyright laws--both in Finland and the US are out of date.

The change is not going to come from inside the US.  The change is going to come from something like this.

Click the jump to check out more on how Sampsa is using street art to change the world, and in the process even got mistaken for Banksy.  Click the jump for the full press release below:


We thought it time to update the viral venues that have supported the campaign thus far.

There have been big gains in petitions as well as a big push back from Finnish Parliament and Finnish media mogul Sanoma.

To begin with, the campaign reached a stunning 25,000 petitions at the 2 months mark!  We are currently at 26,327 with plenty of time to reach the necessary 50,000.

Although, in an almost unheard of push back from Finnish Parliament, and against the spirit of the constitution - new guidelines have been published as of last week on how citizens initiatives will be dealt with.

"Today the Parliaments Speakers’ Council published their guidelines on how the citizens’ initiatives that pass the 50 000 supporters threshold will be handled in parliament. The guidelines are a disappointment. As other bills, citizens’ initiatives are sent to a committee that would normally hear experts and prepare a statement on the bill, which would then be voted on by the parliament. The Speakers Council decided, however, that in the case of citizens’ initiatives the committee does not need to give a statement “if it does not want to”. This would mean that the initiative would not be voted on by the parliament. The council specifically referred to political reasons as possible reasons for not giving a statement on a proposal, thus blocking it from the normal parliamentary process. These guidelines are not in the spirit of the original constitutional amendment that promised citizens a chance “to directly influence the political agenda and to have the parliament process the initiative”.  Joonas Pekkanen -Chairman of the Open Ministry

And what does the timing of this decision and its unconstitutional nature have to do with?  Well, plainly put, we believe it has to do with our campaign, Common Sense in Copyright.  Parliament voting on a citizens initiative gives us, the citizenry, a direct line of sight on MP's - we can see who supported, who did not support initiatives and why.  With these new vigilant guidelines set forth last week, we can now no longer see who has influenced the decision to shoot down any initiative.  Lobbyists have smacked the last nail in the coffin, giving Parliament the perfect cover to disguise decisions that support private interests.

From the beginning we have sighted simple statistics, 30% of our country has downloaded illegally, 79% of 15-18.  Not only have we made criminals of our youth with such aggressive copyright laws, but opened up the possibility to prosecute approximately 1,628,571 people.  TTVK the registered organization enjoys not only the legal ability to order Police into homes, based merely on the download of a single song, but has 30% of our population to choose from at any given time.  Within two weeks of the Chisugate debacle where the 9 year old girls house was entered, and device confiscated - TTVK chairman, Antti Kotilainen was sitting in the office of the Cultural Minister with Chisu to smooth over the situation.

So, what are we to do?  We began this journey with intentions of using democratic means to expose the injustices of lobbyists, make aware the ability to change these injustices and as we crept closer and closer each day towards the goal of setting honest democracy into action - the carpet has been yanked from beneath us.

The campaigns starting point, Sampsa, Finnish underground street artist began by painting images of our x-cultural minister that introduced the legislation into Parliament.  He has continued to paint consistently on the theme since last year May, covering TTVK's aggressive nature in entering homes, the President of Finland as Uncle Sam, Jesus & Mao juxtaposed as agents for positive copyright change.  And his latest adventure includes painting in the US, where at least one of his paintings was protected by the city of New Orleans having thought to have been a Banksy.

"Have to admit, Parliaments decision is a surprise.  In short, its disgusting - they gave themselves the out, and lobbyists the in.  Gay marriage with 150,000 petitions doesn't effect anybody's pocket - but putting a stop to massive arbitrary fines falsely awarded to record labels does.  So does the Fur Farm initiative and any hope we had of putting a stop to the obviously crooked duopoly that controls our countries food supply.  Lobbyists can grease their way into MP's peripheral and we'll never know about it.  Although Finland touts high levels of education and transparency - this proves we are just as corruptible as any other nation." - Sampsa, Finnish Street Artist

As the campaign pushes towards 50,000 Sampsa has begun to make public his intentions of pulling together some of the top political street artists around the globe to arrive in Helsinki this summer to paint on topics of poorly written copyright laws, IPR, freedom of speech and the effects lobbyists have on global legislation.  In 2008 Banksy hosted Cans Festival, in 2012 Opera Gallery in Paris hosted Graff the Peace! War! and in 2013, Sampsa's aim is to use this type of a venue to raise the stakes.

"Street art is now known to be the biggest art movement in history, there are millions of painters and hundreds of millions of clicks watching us virtually each and every night.  My contemporaries in the field of political street art and satire, although having raised awareness on many social issues that span the globe, have not been able to accomplish measurable change - citizens initiatives offer us a very important social mechanism - a tool." - Sampsa

Poorly written copyright laws were not born in Finland, they were downloaded, much like a virus.  It is therefore important to look beyond our borders to make the necessary changes that started copyright on a downward spiral.  For this to happen, it will take many active components in support of fair copyright laws around the globe in order to begin the long road back to common sense.

"People should not say TPB is only about spreading illegal movies and music.  They your world is this small and it's your loss.  Instead we can say file sharing is good.  Then we could focus on ways to let artists make money." - Peter Sunde, co-founder TPB

"A next gen interface including file sharing between artists and consumers/fans with direct compensation is at our fingertips.  Finland has some of the most advanced open/crowd sourcing platforms in the world.  Our Uni's have some of best media labs available, if legislation would politely get the F out of the way, we could begin to solve the equation." - Sampsa

The campaign has made many attempts to keep Finnish media up to date on our plans & goals.  Recently, it was exposed by journalist Jari Tamminen who writes for Voima (Finnish Underground Magazine) that Sanoma, the media mogul organization that controls Finland's most popular daily paper (Metro), weekly papers (Helsinki Sanomat & Nyt), as well as TV broadcasting company Nelonen is, in fact, a TTVK member.  It's arm Sanoma Entertainment Oy, is listed as the 16th member (Jäsenet).  In the past few months since the release of the campaign, 2 stories have been written about citizens initiatives in Finland.  Mysteriously, as polls were collected on what citizens thought of the various initiatives, and comments collected on them were written about - Common Sense in Copyright, the most popular initiative active was left out of discussion and polling.  It is also quite widely known that Sanoma has a precarious relationship with the freelance community it so heavily depends on, and is also something our campaign proposal seeks to fix.

With Parliament dealing honest democracy a blow, partisan media showing it's true colors, the campaign pushes forward.

This is our update.

Questions regarding the campaign, please contact Joonas

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