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Tag Archives: PIPA

As mentioned before, this entry will be about ACTA.  It will also feature a few snipes at USA’s foreign (trade) policy.

Most things that can be said about SOPA and PIPA, also apply for ACTA, at least when it comes to the motives behind it. While bad, the ”final” version of ACTA isn’t as dire as SOPA and PIPA…if you merely look at the content of the treaty(1).  However, as an international agreement that will come with its own organisation, it is significantly harder than to simply ”undo” compared to a national law.  I could repeat numerous other sources going into the details why ACTA is a terrible idea, condemn how long it was all shrouded in secrecy, rage about how absurd the original version was and so on. But this serves little purpose as there’s already Wikipedia (2) and others (3+4+5+6) for that.

Regardless of the specifics, it is another step in what’s effectively the USA’s ”War on Piracy”.  The name of the treaty is rather deceptive, considering it is also about generic medicine and copyright infringement; but that’s really just the usual dirty politics. Certainly, Japan might have been the depositary of the agreement, but it’s fairly safe to say that it would not have gotten any traction if the USA wasn’t backing it. I’m also inclined to think that Japan’s version of ACTA was primarily focused on counterfeit goods (hence the name of the treaty) and that mostly the USA is behind it covering copyright infringement and generic medicine.

The above seems logical enough, as it is clearly national policy of the USA to battle copyright infringement, going as far as using intimidation and bribery to force other countries to be more anti-piracy; directly undermining their sovereignty. Even USA’s allies in other wars are apparently not immune, as Colombia and Saudi Arabia’s copyright protection has improved in recent years. The latter is not on the Special 301 Report watchlist anymore (7+8), although I wouldn’t be surprised if its getting a preferential treatment due the War on Terror and its oil reserves; considering that the country’s human right issues often end up being swiped under the rug. Of course, there are actually a few powerful countries that can not be bullied around; China and Russia continue to flaunt copyright law and there’s amusingly little the US can and will do about it. Instead, the biggest pressure tends to be put on other Western countries. We certainly are lucky with our considerate ”ally”(9+10+11+12+13)!

I’m immensely curious about what will happen if the government of a European Union member state persists in standing up against USA pressure when it comes to trade matters (such as copyright, but also generic medicine and GMO foods). Essentially, the question will be if the USA will start a trade war or turns out to be merely bluffing. Because if they do start a large trade war, neither side would truly ”win”. In fact, I’m inclined to think that it would do more damage to the USA than to the EU. While this is an interesting subject to theorise about;  it’s a bit off topic for this entry, so I will probably explore it some other day in detail.

But back on topic: ACTA. Fortunately, European support for ACTA is starting to crumble. A majority of the Dutch House of Representatives is against ratification of ACTA, because it is unclear if it doesn’t violate the European Convention on Human Rights (hint: it does). Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Latvia and Germany(!) are also currently not planning on ratifying it any time soon. At this stage, it seems highly unlikely ACTA is going to survive in the EU, probably leading to it being killed off altogether.

As expected, some of our politicians think differently about the objections. According to Maxime Verhagen (Dutch Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation), ACTA will change nothing for the common internet user and is primarily supposed to take down websites with illegal content, such as child pornography. Wait, what; child pornography? What does child pornography have to do with ACTA? Was he seriously hoping that saying that magical term would save the day? I’m guessing he’s a rabid fan of Johan Schlüter (14).

But even as ACTA is starting to collapse, the war continues. Another threat looms on the horizon, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (15). The original agreement between Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore started innocently enough, as its  basically a free trade agreement. Surprisingly, it actually looks pretty decent at a glance. The treaty tries to take a sensible approach, wanting a ” ..a balance between the rights of right holders and the legitimate interests of users and the community with regard to protected subject matter.” In addition, signees can adopt ”measures to prevent the abuse of intellectual property rights by right holders” (16).

However, to everyone’s detriment, the USA now has started negotiations to join the TPP… and as part of the USA’s war on piracy, they want corrupt it into a fanatical pro-copyright and pro-patent treaty according to some alleged leaks (17+18+19); potentially turning it into something worse than SOPA, PIPA and ACTA combined. It’s a pity that even the Obama administration appears to be adamant in serving the interests of a select few, instead of serving the vast majority; something that is unfortunately mirrored in several other western countries.

On a more positive note,  it does seem that the SOPA/PIPA debacle has achieved a success that runs contrary to the hopes of the backers. Thanks to these two bills, it is my belief that a fairly significant number of people have been shook awake. We now know that we need to fight for a  ”free” internet. Governments world wide will continue to try to censor the internet, all too eager to blurt out magic words such as ”child pornography” (20) and ”terrorism”. The copyright industry will not cease its campaign of lies (21+22) and hypocrisy (23), a campaign that has shown no signs of slowing down through out the years (24).

My next entry will likely be either about the inherent tension between capitalism and copyright , or the rather astonishing cover-up that involves a certain high-ranking Dutch civil servant.

References

(1) http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120130/21440417593/please-keep-acta-debate-fact-based.shtml
(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ACTA
(3) http://www.techdirt.com/blog/?tag=acta
(4) http://www.reddit.com/search?q=ACTA
(5) https://www.google.com/cse?cx=011835048811694782689%3A7zpko-isndo&ie=UTF-8&q=ACTA&sa=Search&siteurl=www.google.com%2Fcse%2Fhome%3Fcx%3D011835048811694782689%3A7zpko-isndo
(6) https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/01/we-have-every-right-be-furious-about-acta
(7) http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article22587.ece
(8) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_301_Report
(9) http://falkvinge.net/2011/09/05/cable-reveals-extent-of-lapdoggery-from-swedish-govt-on-copyright-monopoly/
(10) http://boingboing.net/2010/12/03/wikileaks-cables-rev.html
(11) http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/09/wikileaks-mpaa-behind-aussie-isp-lawsuit-but-dont-tell-anybody.ars
(12) http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/05/wikileaks-cables-reveal-us-pressuring-canada-on-ip-enforcement.ars
(13) http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/5769/125/
(14) https://torrentfreak.com/the-copyright-lobby-absolutely-loves-child-pornography-110709/
(15) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Pacific_Strategic_Economic_Partnership
(16) http://www.mfat.govt.nz/downloads/trade-agreement/transpacific/main-agreement.pdf
(17) http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/11/us_tpp_proposal_leaked/
(18) http://tppdigest.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=291%3Abig-pharma-lobbying-intensifies-as-ustr-signals-ip-proposal-deadline&catid=1%3Alatest-news&Itemid=1
(19) http://keionline.org/node/1091
(20) http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120213/13212017749/canadian-politician-youre-either-favor-letting-govt-spy-your-internet-usage-youre-child-pornography.shtml
(21) http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120207/03160817678/politifact-trashes-lamar-smith-says-his-claims-about-economic-impact-piracy-are-flat-out-false.shtml
(22) http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120217/15023417795/riaa-insists-really-that-music-industry-is-collapsing-reality-shows-its-just-riaa-thats-collapsing.shtml
(23) http://blog.tunecore.com/2011/07/how-they-legally-steal-your-money.html
(24) http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120215/04241517766/how-much-is-enough-weve-passed-15-anti-piracy-laws-last-30-years.shtml

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Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m keeping the introduction brief by simply pointing you towards the ”about” section on my blog.

I’ve decided for my first entry to be about the infamous SOPA and PIPA USA bills, and the lesser known, yet potentially even more insidious plurilateral ACTA agreement. SOPA, PIPA and ACTA worry me greatly. In fact, their existence is what gave me the last push needed to start a blog. Obviously enough, this made deciding the subject of my first entry rather easy.

First off; SOPA and PIPA.

When it comes to your personal freedom, SOPA and PIPA will directly undermine it. With the excuse of fighting online ”piracy”, it is clear that both your liberty and privacy stops as soon as it potentially threatens the income of all parties with a vested interest in these bills. The enforcement of these bills would (as usual) lack transparency and hold websites accountable for what their users do. There’s also the little detail about the nominal enforcement being done by the United Status Justice Department, even though the United Status International Trade Commission would be an agency better suited to the task. In short, both proposed bills are completely draconian in nature. While it certainly isn’t difficult for me to write more about these particular aspects; I’d only be repeating others. So for that, I refer you to Wikpedia and its own references (1).

However, there are some aspects about these bills that have received less attention; specifically the hypocritical and corrupt nature of some its sponsors.

Let’s start with Hollywood and its ”knight in shining armor”, the MPAA. Hollywood was actually built by using content from the public domain and violating patents. In a nutshell : Thomas Edison attempted to control the entire film industry, which led to movie makers moving to Los Angeles. This made it harder for Edison to have his patents enforced, especially as offenders could quietly ”disappear” temporarily to Mexico. As for the public domain: Walt Disney made most of his money by using content from it (2).

Remember all the crocodile tears shed about the supposed damage to the movie industry due piracy? Never mind that file sharing is not the same as theft and piracy is really a misnomer (3). The industry has made predictions about their impending doom so many times (4), yet their profits have only increased throughout the years (5). The MPAA has admitted to publishing ”incorrect’ figures about the supposed revenue loss due piracy (6). Of course, I’m extremely interested in learning how you can claim to publish ”correct” figures about this topic in the first place.

There’s also MPAA’s leadership, particularly its chairman and CEO; Chris Dodd. The man who insisted that he’d not become a lobbyist, but then became the new boss of MPAA and even used a loophole in the law to get a lobbying job so quickly after leaving the Senate (7). His arrogant, tactless remark about how opponents of the two bills will lose funding for their campaigns give us a fine glimpse of his tactics(8). Incidentally, did you know that he is responsible for the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act (9)? In case you have never heard of it, this law means that all children born after April 2008 have a blood sample taken from them, which then becomes property of the Federal State; whether the parents like it or not.

The sort of ”funding” described earlier is one of the more rotten apples of USA politics.  Hollywood’s lobbying is why the current majority of SOPA/PIPA supporters are Democrats, despite that they are usually are thought to be more protective of individual liberty than Republicans. After all, Hollywood has traditionally embraced liberty (as long as it doesn’t hurt their own pockets) and has been a major sponsor for the Democrats.

The RIAA is simply more of the same. Such as the absurd lawsuits with their ridiculously high compensation demands (10); all operating on the fundamentally flawed basis that file sharing equals theft. Or how about Mitch Glazier’s attempt to effectively strip artists of their copyright interests and transfer the ownership to their record labels (11)? As a Congressional staff attorney, he sneaked into a change with major implications into a section of copyright legislation.  Not too long after, the RIAA hired him as Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Legislative Counsel; where he got to defend his own change when it came under fire. These days he is Senior Executive Vice President; clearly his underhanded actions impressed his superiors. The RIAA has actually engaged in piracy as well (12); does this mean they need to sue themselves?

Neither organization truly serves the best interests of the artists. They only serve themselves and their members. Their idea of ”fair competition” is to create an environment in which innovation is stifled, preventing the need for them to adapt, and intentionally making it harder to be a self publishing artist. They abuse their position to the benefit of members, exemplified by the numerous inconsistencies among film ratings (13) and their attempt to ban screener DVDs (14) . The competitive market is a threat for them; a threat that must be contained as much as possible.

A significant majority of the copyright industry is waging a war that they are determined to win, regardless of what it takes. The International Intellectual Property Alliance wants the US government to treat countries, that mandate or suggest open source, to be treated as if they don’t combat piracy (15). CreativeAmerica , a proxy company of the MPAA, literally is paying for signatures on a petition of theirs (16). Nothing is taboo, including indirectly profiting from child pornography.

”Child pornography is great”, according to Johan Schlüter, head of the Danish Anti-Piracy Group (17). Child pornography is great, because it opens the door to censorship all in the name of fighting against it. Really, it is rather questionable if censorship would solve anything about the matter, but it is clear that Mister Schlüter has no desire to truly fight child pornography; its existence only benefits him. Instead, he’s a despicable man who thinks it is great that the internet has footage of children being raped, just so he can push the agenda of his masters and collect a fat paycheck at the end of the day. It illustrates perfectly that there are no limits for the copyright industry

With that in mind, I’m going to conclude my first entry. Part 2 will likely deal with ACTA and how copyright actually goes against certain principles of capitalism.

References

1:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROTECT_IP_Act

2:  http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120119/12273017472/pirate-bay-press-release-sopa-we-are-new-hollywood.shtml

3: http://anpmech.com/gallery/var/albums/Internet/file-sharing-is-not-piracy.png?m=1253463516

4: http://www.techdirt.com/blog/innovation/articles/20111108/17562016686/history-hyperbolic-overreaction-to-copyright-issues-entertainment-industry-technology.shtml

5: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120124/03263517521/infographic-showing-just-how-frequently-hollywood-has-cried-wolf-about-piracy.shtml

6: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_Picture_Association_of_America#Disputed_figures

7: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110301/13070713317/confirmed-chris-dodd-lies-takes-top-lobbying-job-promises-to-trample-consumer-rights.shtml

8: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120120/14472117492/mpaa-directly-publicly-threatens-politicians-who-arent-corrupt-enough-to-stay-bought.shtml

9: http://www.wired.com/medtech/genetics/news/2008/05/newborn_screening

10: http://brainz.org/14-most-ridiculous-lawsuits-filed-riaa-and-mpaa/

11: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA#The_.22work_made_for_hire.22_controversy

12: https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-and-homeland-security-caught-downloading-torrents-111217/

13 : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_Picture_Association_of_America_film_rating_system#Criticisms

14: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20031001/0046257_F.shtml

15: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2010/feb/23/opensource-intellectual-property

16: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120131/23275917606/creativeamerica-literally-resorts-to-buying-signatures.shtml

17: https://torrentfreak.com/the-copyright-lobby-absolutely-loves-child-pornography-110709/