US And Europe Move On To TAFTA: Yet Another Chance To Push Through ACTA/SOPA Style IP Maximalism

from the it-never-ends dept

ACTA and SOPA may have flopped, but minor setbacks like that won't stop the onslaught of abuses from the entertainment and pharmaceutical industries looking to use the international treaty process to try to pressure everyone to keep ratcheting up protectionist laws concerning copyright, patents and trademarks. Obviously, we've been talking about the still worrisome TPP agreement involving a bunch of Pacific Rim countries, but it's not stopping there. Back in October, we warned that the US and EU were preparing a new trade agreement as well, and the preliminary plans noted that it would include a "high level of intellectual property protection, including enforcement."

More details are starting to come out as the main EU negotiator for ACTA, Karel de Gucht, came to DC to see about getting things kicked off, on an agreement that's being called TAFTA -- the Trans Atlantic "Free Trade" Agreement. Of course, instead of recognizing the lessons from previous failed efforts to push for broken maximalist policies, it appears that the plan is to try, try again. Some are already saying that this is "the opportunity to try to set the gold standard" in copyright, patent and trademark protection. The goal, as with ACTA and TPP is to ratchet up the laws, and then put tons of pressure on China and India to "respect" those laws. To put it mildly: this is stupid. Both of those countries recognize how protectionism works. We've already seen that China is becoming exceptionally good at using patent laws to basically punish foreign companies, while helping domestic Chinese companies. It seems downright idiotic to provide them with even more tools to do so.

Of course, the real questions are why do we keep letting our governments negotiate these kinds of deals, and why do we let them do so in secret?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 8:26am

    I'm starting to see a pattern here. The US executive is trying to enact domestic laws by pushing them via trade agreements...

    Executive pushes for international agreements then comes back to the Congress/Senate and say "See? We are bound by those agreements, we must adjust our domestic laws to fit them as every other nation will do it". Never thought of it this way. Scary.

     

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  2.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 8:46am

    Re:

    What's even worse, is they've been called out for doing exactly that. Yet they're doing it anyway. That part is seriously impressive in just how stubborn it is.

     

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  3.  
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    Kevin H (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 8:47am

    This crap is like playing a never ending game of whack-a-mole. We do what we can to get one squashed and then suddenly some NEW piece of legislation is introduced that just roles the what we just defeated into a new box with a pretty little bow on top.

    My pitchfork is in need of servicing and my torch is beginning to burn out. I cannot even fathom a guess at the number of calls and letters I have written on various pieces of legislation.

    Not to mention I am fairly certain that its all part of their plan to wear us down to this point until we simply quit fighting.

     

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  4.  
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    Lurk-a-lot (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:00am

    Lately, every time I see the words 'free trade' written down, I sick-up just a little.

    Just once I'd like to hear that one of these free trade agreements actually include something about free trade.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go brush my teeth...

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:16am

    This is nothing more than imperialism by trade treaty, where only the US gains from the treaty, including a reason to turn its own citizens into serfs for the barons of industry. The barons will have won when everybody else is paid third world wages.

     

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  6.  
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    ss, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:17am

    Re:

    I'm actually starting to look forward to each swing at this. With each attempt the public outcry *seems* to grow a tiny bit wider and just a tiny bit louder.

    I'm still looking forward to a return to the premise of science and useful arts which somehow got mangled into profit and old farts.

     

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  7.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:22am

    Re:

    This is what I've been saying for years now. This will continue, just like a game of whack-a-mole, until we stop playing whack-a-mole. And there are two ways to stop playing. We can give up and quit fighting, or we can push back and accomplish something meaningful. What we need to do is find a way to get our own copyright legislation sponsored and placed before Congress.

    To change analogies a little, when a weed grows in your garden, cutting off the visible part does no good. Unless you pull it up by the root, it will grow back, again and again. And the root of this neverending parade of copyright abuse proposals is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Everything that's evil and offensive in SOPA and ACTA and the TPP already exists in the DMCA, just at a smaller scale. And until we pull up the root and kill it, the weeds will keep growing back.

    If we're going to accomplish anything meaningful, the first thing to be done is to repeal and reverse the DMCA. No more DMCA takedowns on accusation alone with no evidence and no due process. No more legal protection for hacking other people's computers and calling it DRM. And no more foundation upon which to build greater abuses in the future.

     

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  8. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:23am

    OMG the headline said ACTA and SOPA! Quick, fire up the cat signal! We need the brain-dead masses to get their collective knickers in a bunch. Rabble rabble!

     

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  9.  
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    arcan, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:23am

    does copyright even fit into free trade? because i can't think of a way it does.

     

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  10.  
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    arcan, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re:

    the thing is they only have to win once, we have to win every time. talk about fighting an avalanche with a firehose...

     

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  11.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:27am

    It's ironic how a treaty with 'free trade' in the title can be so protectionist.

    Protectionism works against free trade.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:29am

    "The goal, as with ACTA and TPP is to ratchet up the laws, and then put tons of pressure on China and India to "respect" those laws."

    This, quite simply, won't work.

    China already manufactures the vast majority of electronic devices for the entire world. How are you going to pressure the guy that builds your everything? Ah, maybe you'll use your mighty industrial infrastructure. Oh wait, your mighty industrial infrastructure was exported to China too. Because the labour is cheaper and the laws are laxer.

    Face it, China has the world by the balls, and a toothless piece of paper won't change anything until people actually start moving away from them.

     

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  13.  
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    Beta (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:34am

    motivation

    "Of course, the real questions are why do we keep letting our governments negotiate these kinds of deals, and why do we let them do so in secret?"

    A related question: How many of the backers of ACTA/SOPA did we actually vote out of office?

     

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  14.  
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    jjmsan, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:38am

    This agreement would be a gold standard. Those who have the money get the gold.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:41am

    Reminds me a Russian slang word TUFTA.... meanig Bullshit...

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re:

    I would argue that the root cause is the USTR and how it is set up. Remove USTR by delegating its responsibilities to other government bodies and you will see a far less insane approach. (insanity: Doing the same thing all over thinking that it will lead to a different result!)

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:59am

    Re:

    Exactly. As stated, not only would it not work against China, they'd actually be able to use it against the US.

    I suppose you could say the real goal is to ratchet up their own laws, but US law enforcement hardly needs legal justification to act.

    Perhaps the people who wrote ACTA/TPP/etc. are chuffed that the public rose up against them, and are determined to prove they aren't beholden to the proletariat? There's doubtless some irrational reason behind their irrational behavior...

     

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  18.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 10:06am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Unless we do as Mason is suggesting. If we can work to get meaningful reform in place, we too would only have to win once. (To the extent that's ever true for anything, anyhow).

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 10:06am

    Re:

    What, that's it? Ad hominem attacks, petty namecalling? Where's the elaborate deconstruction, the disillusioning rebuttal?
    I want my viewpoint to be challenged, not reinforced! If you're going to take the time to go to this site, skim headlines, and post disparaging remarks, put some freakin' effort into it!

     

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  20.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 10:07am

    Re: motivation

    We don't get to vote major corporations out of office.

     

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

  21.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 10:11am

    Re: Re:

    and that's why Lawrence Lessig started Rootstrikers.

     

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  22.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 10:13am

    Re: motivation

    Lamar Smith is still there.

     

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

  23.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 10:14am

    Re: motivation

    My own senator Roy Blunt backed it until the last minute. He's still in office.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re:

    Trolls these days... In the good old days we had real trolls and real blasts of lame nerd-rage.

    Oh how I wish we had OotB back! That guy delivered quality incoherent rage soaped in insanity.

     

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

  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 10:29am

    Re:

    It is called neomercantilism. China and east asia are known for a policy based around these principles. To combat it, the conservative parties in the western countries (US democrats included!) have made their own strain of neo-mercantilism where the traded goods are IPR and the tarriffs are licenses. Conservatives call it free trade, but in reality it is corporate mercantilism.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 10:31am

    Re:

    Exactly. Here are Obama and Biden doing what they've done all through their terms in office: paying back their sponsors. Those of you who voted for Obama had plenty of warning from past experience. This is what you get in return.

     

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  27. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 10:40am

    Re:

    I'm starting to see a pattern here.

    Yes, the internet no longer being a lawless Wild West. Everyone knew it was inevitable, but now we're subject to daily whining about it here on Techdirt.

    And if you reply to this, you should mention that you've admitted to being a pirate.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re:

    I doubt Mitt would have been better (maybe worse too...)
    the only good part would have been he would be a first term president so he would have to move under cover to try for a second....

    Need a none of the above vote

     

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

  29.  
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    DannyB (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 11:33am

    Re:

    Pirate Mike just hates it when freedom is threatened, due process is eliminated, injustice is done upon mere accusation, with no recourse, public money is spent on behalf of an extremely wealthy private industry, and it's all done in secret.

     

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  30.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Would you really? Or would you just see the other government bodies picking up the insanity along with the delegation?

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 11:42am

    Re:

    @ #4

    would be a change to NOT include something that was going to benefit the US entertainment industries without screwing the people over at the same time, just to stop those industries from joining the world in the digital age

     

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  32.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 12:11pm

    Everybody's got one.

    The content industry's whack-a-mole is piracy.

    The Internet's whack-a-mole is overreaching copyright trade agreements like SOPA/PIPA/TPP et al.

    Everybody's got a whack-a-mole I guess...

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 12:53pm

    Re:

    "I'm starting to see a pattern here. The US executive is trying to enact domestic laws by pushing them via trade agreements...

    Executive pushes for international agreements then comes back to the Congress/Senate and say "See? We are bound by those agreements, we must adjust our domestic laws to fit them as every other nation will do it". Never thought of it this way. Scary."



    Took you that long to figure it out? That's how we got the DCMA.

    International trade agreements are a wonderful way for industries to protect their pet laws from dreadful diseases like that nasty vox populi that killed SOPA.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re:

    What's even worse, is they've been called out for doing exactly that. Yet they're doing it anyway. That part is seriously impressive in just how stubborn it is.

    Why should they care about being called out about it? Anyone who could stop them is already on their payroll.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re:

    Most people would take a Wild West over Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia any day, and piracy has nothing to do with that.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yea, this. Falling into the "The major X party is better than the Y party in the US!" trap is what gets us to where we are.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 1:07pm

    Re: Re:

    How about just hitting Report on trolls like you, does that make me a pirate?

     

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  38.  
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    Doug Webb, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 1:16pm

    TAFTA

    Why do our governments keep doing this? Because the entertainment industry is spending hundreds of millions of dollars and euros on campaign contributions to all political parties. Even opposition parties tow the entertainment industry line. Corporate campaign donations are an arrow in the heart of democracy. If you can't vote, why can you donate to a politician and potentially change the political landscape?

     

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  39.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re:

    The internet is not, and never has been, a lawless place. Incidentally, neither was the "wild west".

     

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  40.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Everybody's got one.

    The difference is that the "content industry"'s whack-a-mole is unnecessary. The piracy problems they have can be easily dealt with without causing widespread societal damage.

    The internet's whack-a-mole is trying to prevent the widespread societal damage being caused by the "content industry"'s whack-a-mole game.

    In other words, the "content industry" is engaging in a completely optional and self-proclaimed war. The internet is trying to prevent it (and everyone else) from being collateral damage in that madness.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "I doubt Mitt would have been better..."

    How do you know? The point is that Obama was a known factor. Those who voted for him also voted for his existing policies, including his policies on copyright.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    100% incorrect on both counts. Nice job!

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ninja has admitted on this blog that he's a serial infringer.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 2:44pm

    Re:

    Nah, I just replace the words of any titled agreement with its polar opposite. And it's usually correct.

    For example: "free-trade" becomes "mercantilist bullshit".

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re:

    ....public money is spent on behalf of an extremely wealthy private industry.....

    The problem is that you don't want them to do it privately either.

     

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  46.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Re: Everybody's got one.

    Except that when you take a step back and look at things from Hollywood et al's perspective, this whack-a-mole is completely necessary because it threatens their business model by causing a change of social norms. However, in the bigger picture, their stance is counterproductive and outdated when compared to the 21st century business models that are popping up and proving successful.

    And yeah, the Internet's war is a war of self-defense (more or less).

     

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  47.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wrong on both counts? How so? First, in what sense do existing laws not apply to the internet?

    Second, there is a great deal of respected historical research on this topic, and it's pretty well established that with the exception of a literally one or two places, the "lawless wild west" in the sense most people think of it (thanks to TV and movies) never actually existed. By all measures (crime rates, etc.), the "wild west" was about as lawless as the modern west is.

     

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  48.  
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    gorehound (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 3:05pm

    More Asshole Moves from Corrupted Politicians and MAFIAA Schmucks.

     

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  49.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 3:11pm

    The point is actually moot anyway. By the time these treaties are enacted, we will have the ability to 3D print any chemical imaginable, from a small stock of raw materials. Doing away with any chance any resulting pharma laws have any chance of succeeding.

    Data sticks in 10-12 years will be in the quad (q-byte) range, making the distribution of all music and video from the past a simple thing. Bit torrent is implementing a distributed private network system that you need to be invited into. Add encryption on top of that and you have private interlinked darknets galore. All this leads to the obvious conclusion that any RIAA or MPAA based laws will be ineffectual and impossible to enforce.

    All in all, it doesn't matter if they get one, or even all of these treaties enacted. Advances in technology will cause them to fail horribly.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2013 @ 1:14am

    Re:

    There is an excellent expression for this: "policy laundering". Please look it up!

     

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  51.  
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    The Real Michael, Feb 9th, 2013 @ 5:11am

    Re:

    Perhaps part of the reason for the continual attempts to push through draconian bills/treaties is to tire the public out from all the fighting, then they'll attempt to come to a "compromise" where they only get 90% of what was originally proposed.

     

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  52.  
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    bikey, Feb 9th, 2013 @ 7:05am

    I hope the Europeans are getting a lot of money for this. Politicians usually sell themselves sooooo cheaply.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2013 @ 7:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Shh. Leave the troll alone. Facts that don't support his reality are unwelcome.

    But yes, it is true. The internet never has been a lawless "Wild West" and the Wild West itself wasn't a "lawless" place.

    Part of the reason, and I've researched this before, is that the Wild West era took place immediately after the Civil War. So what you had were vast numbers of people who had seen the most vicious war fought within this country ever, all of whom survived and quite readily knew how to take care of themselves and survive. Meaning, even if law enforcement couldn't solve a case or catch a criminal, you can be damn sure the average joe could, and as such crime became much riskier due to the fact that the person you were committing a crime against literally was in no mood for your bullshit and wasn't going to stand idly by and let you get away with it. In point of fact, if anything, the Wild West was actually a much more civilized time for this very reason. People respected the rule of law, and with the exception of a handful of individuals and towns, the majority of the Wild West was actually a decent place to live, with people helping one another as they could and prospects in general looking good (at least when put in perspective of "Holy shit! We just fought a war amongst ourselves!).

     

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  54.  
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    Rob, Feb 9th, 2013 @ 6:51pm

    Re:

    I think that is the point. The Party plans to beat all opposition into absolute submission. They will not stop, so we must not stop, either.

     

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  55.  
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    heythere (profile), Feb 9th, 2013 @ 7:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    In a world this rotten, who's there to rat to?

     

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

  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2013 @ 7:35pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You say that like he was the only other person that ran and before you say 'well he was the only other person who had a chance of winning' please realize that thinking that is a self fulfilling prophecy.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2013 @ 7:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    He, let's just for a minute pretend the wild west was exactly like it was in the movies though. How is rampant copyright infringement anything at all like gunfights at the ok coral? I mean these stories are about murder in the fucking streets and he's comparing rampant copyright infringement to that? It's fucking bonkers.

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2013 @ 10:22am

    They will just keep changing the names of the agreements.

     

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  59.  
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    charliebrown (profile), Feb 10th, 2013 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re:

    "Proof" that the DMCA was no good is the fact that the first two words of it's name are just buzzwords that were big at the time, especially "Millenium"!

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Jonathan, Feb 10th, 2013 @ 5:07pm

    Re:

    I think I agree with your idea of the end-game. It's telling that NGOs are merely content with resisting these infringements rather than pushing back, hard. There's very little citizen force behind *gaining* ground against power consolidation, and much elite pushback when any event that might have such an effect comes about.

    I still believe that the general strike is among the few effective weapons. It's very well understood and it works well enough that it's met with paramilitary force every time it's tried.

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Jonathan, Feb 10th, 2013 @ 5:27pm

    Re:

    Ownership is a cultural/social postulate. Economics is merely a mathematical attempt at elaboration of cultural/social first principles.

    I think it's fairly unlikely that China would subscribe to strong scarce-IP culture, unless there were something else the rest of the world might have to offer China, that China doesn't already have, on China's own terms. Something on the order of the Louisiana Purchase.

    But, the bottom line raison d'etre of modern economics, protecting the purchasing power of incumbent creditors as informed by the "3% annual growth, forever" evangelists, would be met even if only the smaller but important economies (Australia, Japan, Korea, Egypt, Norway) joined up in strong scarce-IP culture.

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Jonathan, Feb 10th, 2013 @ 5:30pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    UN-delegating, actually. Congress has always had the right and duty to approve treaties, including trade treaties. I believe it was the PRO-IP Act that created the USTR and chartered it with promoting IP maximalism.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2013 @ 6:39am

    De Gucht

    As a Belgian, I apologise for De Gucht. He's a disgrace.

     

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


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