When I was about six years old, I bought my first album: ABBA. It was the one which featured Agnetha, Frida, Benny and Bjorn in a vintage car on the cover.
Before I engaged in the transaction, my mother advised me that the purchase was going to require all my “big money”. That is, all my 20 and 50 cent pieces. A big deal when you only received 20 cents a week in pocket money.
My mother offered me an alternative: my best friend’s mother (who owned the album) could make me a tape instead. No, I responded. I didn’t want a tape. I wanted to buy the album. In making that decision, I was placing a value on ABBA’s music. And although I did not realise it at the time, that was my first interaction with economics and copyright.
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The name Julian Assange has become synonymous with a number of freedoms. Freedom of information, freedom of expression, freedom of the press - Assange and many of his supporters champion the right of human beings to communicate with each other without governmental intervention.
In his public statements, Assange appears to reject outright the legitimacy of restrictions by governments on their people’s freedoms to speak and to access information. In March 2008, he called on his volunteers to defend absolute freedom: “it is time to sum the great freedoms of every nation and not subtract them. It is time for the world as an international collective of communicating peoples to arise and say ‘here I am’”.
Arising and saying “here I am” is something Assange is good at. We saw this most recently in his surprise video-stoush with Julia Gillard on last night’s Q&A. The televised appearance formed part of the ongoing struggle by the “Cypherpunk Revolutionary” to liberate individual freedoms from the stranglehold of the state.
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There are few occasions when beer and politics should mix.
Barack Obama has recently demonstrated one of the few times when it can work, diffusing a race row with the offer of a peace-making beer at the White House.
Any Federal politician gingerly holding a beer in an RSL or public bar in an unconvincing attempt to come across as a man of the people is an example of when it doesn’t.
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