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Will Russia's Follow-Up to Snowden Be Copyright Reform?

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To some, incredibly, Russia has become a human rights leader. Edward Snowden, the American whistleblower has succeeded in his asylum application in Russia and White House spokesman Jay Carney appears flummoxed and wrong-footed as the mantle of free speech and liberty appears to pass from West to East.

This is a PR goldmine for Russia (and probably great for my show on RT, "Keiser Report") but Russia should not rest on its laurels. This would be an excellent time to address a nettlesome problem with the Russian economy nagging at its growth ambitions for decades: its overreliance on oil and gas.

Russia's economy is both cursed and blessed by oil. When the oil price goes up, there is a tremendous 'wealth effect' spilling over into all corners of the economy, but this diminishes the drive to develop other industries to diversify away from overreliance on oil. And of course, when the oil price is weak, everyone slaps their head and moans about how they should have diversified when the price was higher.

Now is the time to grab the bull by the horns and take an initiative that will provide decades of non-oil based revenues and millions of new jobs that capitalize on Russia's bright, young, technologically gifted generation.

The Bad Guy Is Really Hollywood

The fact is, technological innovation and wealth creation has been thwarted for decades in America and around the world by creeping copyright extension laws spearheaded in the US.

Copyright, the right to have a limited period of monopoly protection for intellectual property, was put into law (and codified in America's Constitution) with the express understanding that all intellectual property comes from the public domain and, after a reasonable (and short) period of time, must return to the public domain from whence it came. But over the past few decades, corporate bullies like Disney and Microsoft have co-opted government with plutocratic lobbyists who have coerced lawmakers to extend copyright to 'lifetime plus 70 years,' a term that Lawrence Lessig of Stanford University correctly identifies as 'perpetual copyright' meaning, intellectual property never returns to the public domain and the public is poorer for it.

Current copyright laws are piracy led by corporations who steal our birthright (the ideas, stories, and characters) handed down to us through the millenia and then it's locked up; imprisoned, on corporate balance sheets.

Russia, building on the incredible wave of global goodwill post-Snowden, can strike another incredible blow for freedom by being the first country to take on copyright pirate Hollywood and NSA-collaborator Microsoft by introducing copyright laws that are consistent with what Thomas Jefferson argued was an appropriate copyright term: 14 years with a 14 year extension.

Aaron Swartz Did Not Die In Vain If We See Real Copyright Reform

Aaron Swartz, the copyright freedom fighter -- who worked closely with Lawrence Lessig on the 'Creative Commons' copyright project -- was a victim of this ugly copyright cartel.

According to Aaron's dad: "Aaron did not commit suicide but was killed by the government. Someone who made the world a better place was pushed to his death by the government." We know that in this case 'the government' refers to the copyright cartel's no. 1 lobbyist: the MPAA and its head Chris Dodd.

Millions around the world would be incredibly appreciative if Russia were to say 'No' to Hollywood's lobotomy of our collective unconscious with their pernicious copyright gulag so that Aaron's death was not in vain.

At the moment, Russia appears to be going in the opposite direction (per this headline from TorrentFreak:)

Russian 'SOPA' Anti-Piracy Body Under Investigation For Software Piracy

For the sake of the Russian economy, that would flourish under a reasonable copyright system and for the sake of freedom fighters like Snowden, Manning, Jullian Assange and Aaron Swartz I implore Russia to stand up to Hollywood like you stood up to Obama and strike a blow against immoral and dangerously repressive copyright laws.