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News Media Last Updated: Dec 4th, 2007 - 00:38:35

Spanish daily, El Pais, seeks to use copyright law to make shut up or pay up
By Tubal Paez
Online Journal Guest Writer

Dec 4, 2007, 00:36

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Inspired by the anti-neoliberal movement and bolstered by the new information and communication technologies, a strong popular dissidence is growing in the battle for ideas around the globe; all in opposition to the existing media totalitarianism that silences or distorts reality.

In thousands of digital publications and Web sites, sincere and honest people by the legion, be they journalists, translators, investigators, academics and specialists in many disciplines, give the Web a humane supportive touch, one both hopeful and combative.

This global network allows for opinions to circulate, along with news and commentary that the so-called traditional media exclude as a rule. It should then come as no surprise that the prevailing and unilateral thinking be unmercifully discharged against these discrepant stands. Repressive actions may be taken that can range from a legal demand, or the denial of licenses, or economic hardship via confiscation of funds and equipment, to physical aggression and even murder.

One of these alternative sites (alterative as well) of great popularity is, a not-for-profit medium that pays nothing to its collaborators and which gives the news a different treatment in order to unveil those interests that economic and political power in the capitalist world might wish hidden in order to maintain their privileges and status.

These days, there is a major scandal making the rounds. It has to do with a repressive action pertaining to copyright issues, and brought about by the Spanish daily, El Pa�s, a corporate entity, against and its director, journalist Pascual Serrano, a Spanish national, demanding that they shut up or pay. The reason behind it centers on the fact that in the last few years their denunciations have been uncovering the dirty games of the great European press -- particularly the one in Spain -- surrounding important international happenings, and more specifically in Latin America where there is an ongoing process of change to benefit those in disfavor until now, and to stop the looting of the national wealth.

An article by Serrano showing conclusive data supporting an open anti-Ch�vez conspiracy by the Spanish daily spilled the cup, and the firm instructed its attorneys to take action. Even if the demand is ridiculous, it doesn�t mean that we don�t consider it important. Such demand operates under neoliberal logic and the expansionist impunity which permeates in the audio-visual and print media.

As a reflection of that situation, owners of the European and world press intend to demand payment of news materials as intellectual property. There have been legal processes in that regard, such as the one dealing with the Google search engine in a Belgian tribunal. As the pot was being stirred, a legal project came to the surface in Europe with the intention of charging royalties for the publication of news. There is also concern in Spain for how far this new law could reach and add to the Law of Intellectual Property, with restrictions to the �right to footnote� and to the circulation of �writings on current events.�

We should stay on guard to defend the voices of the small media which represent the interests of the excluded majorities, since legislation is being drafted quietly to bring about legal instruments which will favor the great media magnates who are intent in being paid for the publication of news considered to be exclusive and which could turn out to be the arrival of a hurricane, the landing of an asteroid or tomorrow morning�s temperature. and Pascual Serrano are not just crumbs at the breakfast table of a frivolous international media mogul. For the money-owners, they are simply hindrances on the way to word-control anywhere, and also the payment for information on reality.

After all the screaming by the big Hispanic media as a result of the last Ibero-American Summit, and the rude manipulation of what was said by President Ch�vez in the debate, there was fear that certain truths would come to light, as it happened, in those surroundings where neoliberalism forced down the obstacles and provided a prescription to alleviate a capitalism in crisis and sink the region in poverty and hunger.

Let us not overlook that in Chile alone 90 radio stations are owned by the same daily, El Pa�s, a corporate entity known as Grupo PRISA that boasts it owns 1,235 radio stations, the majority in Latin America. In this part of the world, that corporation has experienced spectacular growth and tremendous profit. It also has operations in Mexico, Bolivia, Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia; it is in the latter country where Caracol Radio, according to promotional material from this multinational firm, is the �leading transmitter that continues increasing its audience growth and profitability.�

The neoliberal tsunami in the news media took the last fig leaves covering the smut of the media that claim to be defenders of freedom of expression but in essence defend the economic and political interests of great capital. The deep changes in Latin America have forced confrontation of the two worlds, and let evidence demonstrate that certain champions of democracy and freedom are nothing more than strong censors or vulgar oppressors.

Grupo PRISA is a corporation and like any other it is considered to be a legal person, without body or soul but with the same rights as regular people, such as possession of property, the buying, selling and profiting on such property, and the total freedom of movement within the system. But as would be expected, it lacks values of its own that human beings have, such as helping one�s neighbor, solidarity and altruism. And it is ruled by the profit motive first and foremost and the law of the jungle; its survival and growth will depend on the annihilation of the weakest.

It becomes necessary to denounce the cynical contentions of El Pa�s, a corporate entity, and to unveil its lies, even remember its prior stands, when in its pages it gave certain possibility to allow expressions from the left. But that would be asking for the moon. That daily is just following its mission of playing mind games with its readers as part of the strategy of the parent corporation that converts all the subsidiaries into moneymaking machines.

Because of that, its bank account contains, among the different sources of profit, that which results from the white slave trade, the exploitation of women and prostitution in Spain since in the advertising pages of El Pa�s, a corporate entity, as in the other important Madrid newspapers, the sale of young women is advertised, as if they were autos, computers or Alicante nougat.

If engaged in that type of mercantile promotions it would never have been the subject of pressure or legal ultimatums. Its only crime is to have divergent opinions. It makes no difference that such opinions may coincide with that of hundreds of millions of Cubans, Venezuelans, Bolivians, Nicaraguans, Ecuadorians or other Latin Americans; the important thing is to stay quiet, talk about something else or just keep the thoughts to oneself.

Professionals of the Cuban Press, answering the call of the Latin American Federation of Journalists, unite in solidarity with Pascual Serrano and the operating team at, recognizing that there is extraordinary merit to that serious and rigorous space which spreads the news, and which has provides valuable support for an ever increasing group of readers and small media that lacks the technical, human and financial resources to ensure its own coverage of international news.

The legal action initiated by El Pa�s, a corporate entity, deserves the repudiation of honest journalists throughout the world.

Tubal Paez is president of the Journalists� Union of Cuba.

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