PUBLIC WARNING: Fightback and the copyright trolls

Readers of the Fightback website might have noticed a slight change in its appearance. Well, not a slight change. The disappearance of almost all images.

During the Christmas-New Year period, the Fightback editorial board was contacted by a “Copyright Protection” agency based out of Denmark, claiming that three images from very old posts on this website – stemming back to 2012-14 – had been reproduced without permission from a major press agency. These images were:

  • a 2014 image of a demonstration in Venezuela;
  • a 2013 image of three atheist writers (of which only one image was claimed to be copyrighted: that of Christopher Hitchens!)
  • a 2012 image of a woman voting in Egyptian elections.

Rather than simply asking them to be taken down – as we are always willing to do for any image, out of goodwill – we were presented with what’s called a “speculative invoice”, totalling more than $NZ750 in “retrospective licence fees”. This fee, we were told, would apply no matter if the images were taken down or not.

This form of “copyright trolling” is well known overseas, for example from the “PicRights” organisation. Such organisations – either hired by major intellectual property owners, or acting on their own initiative – use powerful “reverse image search” engines to find images which match those to which they think they can establish copyright. This is quite often not enough evidence to stand up in court – but that doesn’t matter, as it rarely gets that far. People targeted thus – quite often private individual bloggers or non-profit organisations, like Fightback – are simply unwilling or too intimidated to fight, especially if the copyright trolls escalate to actual legal threats. They are far more likely to simply pay up – or to negotiate a lower payment – to make the whole mess go away.

The Fightback editorial board have decided, therefore, to simply pull all the images from our website, re-adding only those which we can guarantee we have the rights to use, or are in the public domain. We have no wish to continue to get letters every day or so presenting a bill for $250+ for an image posted up to a decade ago that everyone’s forgotten about. We are also seeking legal opinions about whether these demands for money can be enforced in the New Zealand court system.

We publish this warning, not only as an apology to our readers for the hopefully temporary loss of visual quality on our website, but to a warning to other small publications in Aotearoa/New Zealand, and also to private bloggers. These people may come after you next. Forewarned is forearmed.

September 2013 issue of Fightback online

Welcome to the September 2013 issue of Fightback. Fightback is a socialist organisation in Aotearoa/NZ, and this is our monthly magazine.

With the 2013 local body elections coming up, Fightback will be involved in electoral work alongside community struggles on the ground. Fightback does not believe socialism can be simply voted in, however electoral work combined with wider popularstruggles can play a role in socialist transformation. In an article originally printed on the Daily Blog, Mike Treen  of Unite Union and the MANA Movement discusses strategy for the 2014 general election (page 15-16).

Fightback supports the MANA Movement, which is standing candidates in the local body elections. Fightback writer Daphne Lawless interviews John Minto, who is standing for Mayor of  Auckland on a MANA Movement ticket; (page 17-19) and Ian Anderson interviews Grant Brookes, a Fightback  member who is standing on a Health First ticket endorsed by the MANA Movement (page 20-21).”

2013 September Fightback


Green Left Weekly report on Fightback conference

Fightback Conference 2013This report on the Fightback conference which took place over Queens Birthday weekend originally appeared in Green Left Weekly and was written by Liam Flenady, who attended the conference representing the Socialist Alliance (Australia).

More than 50 people gathered in the Newtown Community and Cultural Centre in Wellington on May 31 and June 1 for the annual conference of the socialist organisation Fightback.

The sessions were filled with lively and respectful debate across a number of different perspectives within the left on national and international issues.

Fightback 2013 featured speakers from Fightback, the International Socialist Organisation (Aotearoa), the Socialist Party of Australia, and the Australian Socialist Alliance.

The first panel session “Global context: Crisis, Imperialism, Fightback” set the tone for the conference — all speakers noting that the global capitalist system is still deeply in crisis and that the working class is being made to pay for it.

Discussion centred on the resistance to austerity in Europe and the rise of left parties such as SYRIZA.

Another key theme was the state of the Australian and New Zealand economies now that the Australian mining boom seems to be waning.  [Read more…]

Report: Summer Conference 2013

Our organisation met in Wellington over the weekend of the 12th-13th of January 2013, as one of our two annual national conferences – summer internal conference, and winter public conference. Along with electing national officers, we held discussions on industrial perspectives, and passed resolutions on changing the organisation’s name, and on Stalinism.

Jared Phillips presented an industrial perspectives document which will be adapted into an article for the paper. In short, the neoliberal organisation of work (casualization particularly) is being forcibly extended into core industrial sectors such as meat processing and the maritime industry. We discussed the need to push for more militant fightback than is currently advocated by trade union leadership, and pushing demands such as nationalisation of failing workplaces under workers’ control.

We discussed changing our name to reflect re-assessment of our organisation and approach. In particular, we have discussed whether the name “Workers Party” reflects our perspective of not currently being a mass workers party, but aiming to build a fighting propaganda group, defining our aims this way:

an organisation whose chief concern is propaganda, but which conducts its propaganda while always immersing itself in and responding to the class struggle, and while always seizing every real opening for genuine agitation.

The organisation voted unanimously to change our name from the Workers Party to Fightback, which will also be the name of our newspaper. Our primary slogan will be “struggle, solidarity, and socialism.” Once we have redesigned our logo, newspaper and website, the organisation will roll out this new name and slogan.

Finally, our organisation is re-assessing our socialist history. At summer conference we passed a resolution on Stalinism. Comrades agreed that this resolution was intended neither as an endorsement of Trotskyism, nor a statement on Maoism, but an assessment of the Eastern Bloc bureaucracy and its global historic implications:

We remain partisans of the Bolsheviks and the October 1917 revolution which saw an unprecedented flourishing of human freedom. However, because of Russia’s economic backwardness and, crucially, the failure of revolutionary movements in Western Europe, the infant workers’ state was precarious from its inception. Eventually a Stalinist counter revolution prevailed at immense cost to the working class and peasantry. The Stalinists established a model of “socialism” characterised by a top-down direction of society and the economy by an unaccountable bureaucracy, which gives some social welfare benefits to the working class but which atomises, exploits, oppresses and spies on them in a similar manner to an authoritarian capitalist regime.

Stalinism has wrought immense damage to the international communist movement, due to its misleadership of workers’ struggles, and its effect of repelling large masses of workers from the ideas of revolutionary socialism.

 We remain committed to building an international communist movement in solidarity with struggles in the majority world.

 We believe that socialism will be brought about by workers’ own efforts, our struggles in the workplace and in society, the fight to create a workers’ government, or it will not be socialism. As Karl Marx put it: “The emancipation of the working class is the act of the workers themselves”.

Our public conference will be held at Newtown Community & Cultural Centre in Wellington, over Queens Birthday Weekend 2013. Further details TBA.

120 attend Workers Party national conference in Wellington

By writers for The Spark

In early June the Workers Party held its annual national conference – this year called Socialism 2012 – in Newtown, Wellington.

Public event
The event opened with Jared Phillips of the Hamilton branch putting forward a class analysis and economic forecast for the coming period. Guest speaker Sue Bradford from Auckland Action Against Poverty and MANA spoke about reorganising the unemployed and the vulnerable sections of the working class, which was followed by Mike Kay, a WP member in Auckland, looking at the current position of meat-workers and wharfies who have both recently been in significant struggles.

On Saturday Mike Kay presented on the concept of the combat propaganda organisation, examining what type of Marxist organisation it is possible to build in the current period. Kassie Hartendorp of the Wellington branch then spoke about Safer Spaces, touching on some of the problems in Occupy and putting forward strategies to deal with unsafe spaces.

After those sessions a panel was held on ‘Eco-Socialism in Australasia’. Grant Brookes of the Wellington branch spoke about the idea of forming an Eco-socialist network in Aotearoa and Ian Anderson – also of the Wellington branch – then spoke on the connection between socialist policy on immigration and the environment. Guest speaker Ben Petterson of Socialist Alliance spoke about the state of the Eco-socialist movement in Australia.

Continuing with Australian guests, Yarra City Councillor Anthony Main from Socialist Party Australia spoke about the way in which  that organisation participates in elections and the connection between the transitional method and their work in council. This was followed by a panel ‘Against the capitalist education system’ in which Joel Cosgrove of the Wellington branch spoke about new forms of organising being required as student unions are increasingly becoming the tools of the university administration.  Rowan MacArthur of the International Socialist Organisation spoke on student resistance and reasons for increased activity amongst students. University teacher Dick White then spoke about the idea of the university as the critical conscience of society and counterposed that idea to the reality of the role of the university.

On the last day of public conference Byron Clark and Paul Hopkinson presented on imperialism with Paul focussing on the PFLP solidarity campaign and Byron focussing on NZ imperialism. Jared Phillips then outlined the emergence of new analysis within the Workers Party in favour of pro-working class Tino Rangatiratanga. James Froch of the Wellington branch pointed  to a socialist programme for queer  liberation in New Zealand. The final session consisted of a panel with a representative from each of  Socialist Party Australia, Socialist Alliance (Australia), International Socialist Organisation, and Workers Party putting forward perspectives of their organisations.

Internal meetings
The Workers Party convened several internal meetings. There were reports from all those holding elected positions in the organisation. There was agreement that the organisation now has the beginnings of a finance consciousness, that the organisation endorses the internal document now published on the WP website titled ‘The Treaty, the foreshore & seabed, and Tino Rangatiratanga’, and that a debate will continue regarding changing the name of the organisation.

Socialising, bands, fundraising
Over the conference weekend there was plenty of socialising and fundraising. On the first night for example the bands Kittentank, Big Rick, and Man/Woman played a fund-raising gig at Bar Bodega which took $450 at the door. On the following night there was a Greek food theme, and there was also a raffle for art and wine.

Strong attendance
Whilst attendance is not the sole criteria for assessing the strength of a socialist conference, and is not the key criteria, it has to be said that the organisation was pleased with the hugely increased turnout in comparison to previous annual national conferences. Over the last five years attendance had plateued at no more than approximately 75. The increased turnout indicates the increased opportinuties for socialist building and reflects the organisation’s increased invovlement in mass work in areas such as workplace, student movement, queer liberation movement, and MANA movement. The Workers Party is looking towards holding next year’s national conference in Wellington at Queen’s Birthday weekend for the second year in a row.