Thursday, January 14, 2010

Info about Lawsuits + Change the Frame. (was: Access Tucson loses all funding)

Communicaton Policy Debate?
It's time to Change the Frame!

This conversation occured on the mailing list for
the Alliance for Community Media

The background is that Access Tucson just lost all their funding
for their Public Access Television channel.
Someone suggested a lawsuit:

On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 11:30 AM, wrote:
A class-action law suit is another option,

I'm inclined to agree here. Does Access Tucson have resources / support / a legal eagle to take this up? Does ANYONE ANYWHERE in ACM land have a access to lawyers for this? If this was adopted as a strategy across the country, a test case if you will, could resources be pooled?

For any lawsuit to be filed, there needs to be three components,
  1. a right (the law)
  2. an injury (a right/law violated)
  3. prayer for relief (asking the court to enforce the law and stop the injury,
    and sometimes re-compensation from the violator to the victim)

The problem right now is
there is no law.

The federal courts recognize no statutory right*
of the people to have public access TV.

(* a "statutory right" is a right created by law,
as opposed to a natural right)

Some states do have such a law, such as NY,
but every state is different. It's a huge mess.

In fact, it's worse than 50 different standards.
Every municipal franchise agreement contract is different.

That means there are 87,000 different standards!!!

This is why we need to
Change the Frame

Let's re-frame the debate to make things clear:

What we are talking about is THE COMMONS.
We only need legislative action to recognize our
pre-existing, inherent, natural rights:
such as, our right to speak and move about freely,
and to have access to, and use the commons
in a life-sustaining way.

The commons is that which gives us life.
So our access to the commons
is absolutely vital to life itself, and
derives -- not from the statutes --
but from our natural right to life.

The commons is the air and water of the earth.
The commons is the land itself,
our parks, and public spaces,
our natural right to wander
and pick berries, nuts, and seeds
from the forest or the prairie.

The commons is our electromagnetic spectrum.
That is NOT private property!
The commons is our public rights-of-way,
such as city streets and farm-to-market roads.

ClearChannel, Citadel, CBS, or FOX
which claims those broadcast licenses
and transmitting facilities are "their property",
but the airwaves themselves
belong to the people.

It is the commons,
yet, we presently do not have a say
as to what kind of information is transmitted.

It is the commons,
yet we do not have any way to create and
distribute our own content.

The commons have been enclosed for private gain,
and the people are denied access.
This is a crime, it is left of that which is necessary for life.
Our public servants in government
are complicit by allowing it to happen.
We do not need to asses blame or punish.

The remedy is simple:
Pass a law which recognizes our natural rights
to speak freely, and have access to
that which we own.

Sure, the copper or fibre might belong to
Comcast, Time Warner, or ATT,
but was laid over public rights of way.

The government creates the legal entity
of these business corporations,
and the government franchises their local operations.

The government is created by the people.
The government itself has no rights,
only a duty to serve the people!

The government is only a proxy
by which the will of the people is exercised.
There is no separate entity "the government"
which exists other than this.

So it is absurd to suggest that the government,
which itself is organized to serve the public interest,
is a thing which has "a right"
to rent access to the commons
to state-chartered, state sanctioned,
private business entities
(e.g. Comcast, Time Warner, or ATT)
for exploitation of maximum private profits
yet confers upon them no duty
to serve the people!

The government has no right to sanction this theft!

So one thing we need to start discussing
is municipally owned cable/telephone/data infrastructure.
Because those private profits only add to our costs.
So if it was the government itself
running the public communication infrastructure,
not only would the costs go down,
but the obligation to serve the public
would be more clear.

We only need a statute to recognize that
the government has a duty to the people
to protect our collective rights to use the commons.

Our government has a duty to regulate
corporate harvesting of the commons for private gain.

The government,
which itself exists
by compact
collectively among the citizens
to serve the common good,
DOES NOT have the right
to collude with corporations
to deny our access
to the commons!

That spectrum is our property!!!

It's time to


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