Big Content Goes Back To Sneaking Bad Rules In Through Treaties

from the sneaky,-sneaky,-sneaky dept

If one thing has become clear over the past few years, it's that the broadcast entertainment industry will try every possible route to get rules put in place that favor them at the expense of consumers. Even when struck down in one area, they'll try to sneak them in somewhere else. A favorite move has been the "international treaty." It's pretty sneaky how this works. What happens is they play a geopolitical game of leapfrog. The industry gets its diplomats to claim that a treaty is needed to "harmonize" international laws on things like copyright, because one country has less stringent laws than another. Of course, the treaty always focuses on bringing the less stringent rules up to the level of the nation with the more stringent rules. Then, the industry works on getting local laws made stronger again... and then claims that the international partners all have to boost the levels of protection again to "harmonize" things. What happens is you get an escalating system where the laws keep getting more stringent as each side tries to "catch up" with the other, while leapfrogging them each time they do. This gets even worse, because whenever people talk of reducing intellectual property protection, the same groups that lobbied for stronger intellectual property laws then start saying that we could never do that because it would violate these all important international treaties, and those treaties are somehow sacrosanct. This was one of the popular arguments used last week at the CATO event, by those trying to push for stronger copyright laws. They would say we absolutely couldn't change the laws more in favor of consumers, because (oh no!), it would violate these all important treaties... which the same folks had lobbied for in the first place.

The latest treaty to watch out for is the Broadcasting Treaty from WIPO, designed to work out new copyright laws concerning broadcasted and webcasted content. This has been on the table for a while, and despite plenty of folks discussing the dangers of certain clauses, it looks like the latest draft has put back in all the bad stuff, and shunted aside many of the important concerns that have been raised by the majority of countries involved. The biggest issue that many have with this treaty is that it would add copyright to any broadcasted content... even if the underlying content is in the public domain. That's extremely problematic, but of course the big broadcasters love the idea that they might be able to extend their ownership claim over content that is in the public domain, all thanks to the importance of "international treaties." Depending on how you read this, it could also make life quite difficult for podcasters, by setting up systems that clearly favor big content companies at the expense of everyone else. All this, in the name of "harmonization," of course.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Jerk, May 2nd, 2006 @ 1:31pm

    Fist!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    asshat, May 2nd, 2006 @ 1:47pm

    what does this button do???

    ooh,, look at me! I can post onto the internets! its so cool and now everyone will like me more for doing it first!


    LOL!!!!!11!!1

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Random Schmuck, May 2nd, 2006 @ 1:54pm

    This conversation is certainly off to an intelligent start...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    M_Perrk, May 2nd, 2006 @ 2:05pm

    Re:

    It's First you stain.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Bigger Jerk, May 2nd, 2006 @ 2:26pm

    Re:

    Fist?!? I think that is what you should be hit with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Jack, May 2nd, 2006 @ 2:28pm

    All important treaties

    Don't be so flip about the "all important treaties". The U.S. is probably the only country that under its own law binds itself to treaties; the critical terms being under Article 3 Section 2 of the Constitution:

    "The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;..."

    In other words treaties become the law of the land, and the only way to ammend or annul that law is to convince the treaty partners to enter into another treaty.

    That is the biggest problem to the citizens of the U.S. of the whole "globalization" scheme. It effectively disenfranchises U.S. citizens from making their own laws democraticaly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, May 2nd, 2006 @ 2:51pm

    Re: All important treaties

    The U.S. is probably the only country that under its own law binds itself to treaties;

    The US does not bind itself to treaties. The clause in the constitution allows the Federal government to impose the effects of treaties on the states but does not tie the hands of Congress. The Charming Betsy doctrine says that US law will be interpreted to be consistent with international treaties if at all possible but if not possible the domestic law prevails.

    If you want to see a recent example of how the US treats international commitments look to the softwood lumber dispute where the US government said that they did not care if Canada won all of the "binding" dispute resolution hearings, the US would continue to penalize Canadian lumber until Canada made concessions (even though NAFTA panels had made decisions binding under US law that there was no basis for the attacks on Canadian softwood).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Kiwi, May 2nd, 2006 @ 4:11pm

    Re: All important treaties

    The USA doesn't have the greatest track record on UN resolutions. And Amnesty International rates the USA as one of the worst human rights offenders in the World, scoring more black marks in more categories than ANY other countries.

    Don't get me started on "Free" trade agreements.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, May 2nd, 2006 @ 5:08pm

    Re: Re: All important treaties

    And Amnesty International rates the USA as one of the worst human rights offenders in the World, scoring more black marks in more categories than ANY other countries

    Which probably says more about Amnesty International than it does about America. Maybe they have more bad things to say about the US because it is safer and easier to get access to information here than in, say, Iran where they execute gays and rape victims.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2006 @ 5:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: All important treaties

    "Which probably says more about Amnesty International than it does about America. Maybe they have more bad things to say about the US because it is safer and easier to get access to information here than in, say, Iran where they execute gays and rape victims."

    You can't be serious? That Amnesty International gets "easy" (cough) access to information in the USA does not diminish the attrocities they cite. If countries like Iran is what American apologists now compare themselves with, you're a sorry bunch of losers indeed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Mr Rat, May 2nd, 2006 @ 7:50pm

    treaties

    agh cough - I think the topic was treaties - particularly the way that massive copyright powers manipulate the system to serve their own ends... and as a major copyright exporter American companies directly influence the copyright policy of many other nations - Australia is but one example - we inherited things such as copyright term extension and DRM laws via free trade agreements - nothing to do with our content industries, nothing to with being able to think for ourselves, but because it was a priority of the USA government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    ThinkSolveDo, May 2nd, 2006 @ 8:21pm

    The reverse is happening for Patents...

    While some big companies are looking to increase their rights by making copyright laws stronger... Other big companies working to soften patent laws.

    The idea is that the big companies will be able to simply take the technology they want AFTER it has been discovered or developed. They view it like the entire world becomes their FREE R&D Lab.

    If this is allowed to happen you will soon be buying all your products from the one single company that is the biggest. And history has shown that this is not good.

    Srong Patent and Copyright Laws build strong economies, businesses and jobs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), May 2nd, 2006 @ 10:22pm

    Re: The reverse is happening for Patents...

    The idea is that the big companies will be able to simply take the technology they want AFTER it has been discovered or developed. They view it like the entire world becomes their FREE R&D Lab.

    If this is allowed to happen you will soon be buying all your products from the one single company that is the biggest. And history has shown that this is not good.


    Actually, this is false. If you look at the historical evidence, it actually showed the reverse is true. For example, look at the Italian pharmaceutical industry. Until the late 70s, it wasn't protected by patents, and it actually created a very healthy industry with lots of competition. It was mostly small to midsize firms, and no large firms.

    It was only once patent protection was put in place that consolidation occurred, and most of those small companies merged into a few giant conglomerates. They also stopped innovating and focused on sitting on existing patents, basically wiping out most of the pharmaceutical industry in Italy.

    There are other examples along these lines that suggest with less patent protection, it actually encourages many more smaller firms, and keeps large firms out of the market.

    ThinkSolveDo, you keep accusing me of having no idea what I'm talking about... yet, repeatedly, you state things that are factually incorrect. It's difficult to take you seriously.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    ThinkSolveDo, Jun 25th, 2006 @ 9:41pm

    Re: Re: The reverse is happening for Patents...

    You sound so authoritative that some people, also with no actual knowledge, might be tricked into believing you.

    Italian pharma is your example? Please, we are not that stupid. I guess you want all of us to believe that small companies will flourish when big companies can copy their innovations for free? That makes you sound either stupid or on the payroll of some big business focused lobbiest. Excuse the insult but I feel your post often lack integrity. And I am the type of person who would NOT buy a giftwrapped gift from a magician.

    Your example is as simple-minded as saying copyrights should be abolished because they stop innovation. They don't make sense.

    Small buisiness survive by protecting their business assets. Take your nose out of the book world and go get some ACTUAL experience. Invent and patent something, start a small business and see what the real world is like. It is much different than the theory and fantasy.

    There are loads of IP Copying from big companies who prefer to pilfer than to pay a reasonable royalty or innovate themselves This is fact... Check it out for yourself by searching -patent infringement-. Search -christmas stand home depot lawsuite-, -emergency ladder patent infringement- and the famous -intermittent wiper patent case-

    And please stop offering examples where you show a major economic system and then foolishly state major changes to it can be exclusively pinned to one specific cause. Yeah right it was flourishing and patents killed it. Everyone knows major systems are often more complex than that.

    AND that makes it seem, to me, like you are speaking while on someone's timeclock.

    So stop your patronizing and start to stick up for small businesses because that is where the jobs, growth and real innovation often takes place.

    GE was once a small business.
    Apple was once a small business.
    Google was once a small business.
    Ben and Jerry's was once a small business.
    Walmart was once a small business.
    Sony was once a small business.

    Don't kill small businesses to simple consolodate us into cubicles.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This