Why Is Red Hat Associated With A Letter That Calls More User Rights In Copyright A Dangerous 'Contagion'?

from the hopefully-they'll-stop-that dept

We covered the ridiculously long fight in WIPO to finally get a treaty that allows greater rights for the blind to get access to copyright-covered works. This fight, which went on for over a decade, finally reached mostly a conclusion in the past few months with the Marrakesh treaty. While the US avoided it at first, even it signed on at the beginning of October. Of course, the US was the main force opposing the treaty for a long time, with the main argument against it being something along the lines of "if we make any concessions towards more user rights over copyright-covered content, it will set a bad precedent." This is the mind of a maximalist: the ratchet can only work one way, and that way is for greater protection and enforcement, even if there's no evidence that it does any good (and plenty of evidence of the harm it does).

KEI points us to a just-discovered letter sent to the State Department to fight against the WIPO treaty right before it was finally agreed to, arguing (of course) that any effort to give users greater rights is a horrible precedent to set. The letter was sent from a group called the Trans-Atlantic Business Council (TCB), and was apparently pushed around DC by a lobbyist for General Electric (note taken: General Electric wants to fuck over the blind -- what, they don't buy enough lightbulbs?).

More incredible is that among the members of the TCB is... Red Hat. If ever there were a company that should be in strong favor of more user rights and against maximalism, it's Red Hat. One hopes that the company doesn't approve of this letter being sent in its name. Similarly, IBM is on the list, and it's a company that relies tremendously on open source software. Does IBM want to go down as a copyright maximalist with no concern for the blind? If not, it might want to reconsider its membership in such an organization.

The letter itself really is incredible in the ignorance it pushes, definitely fitting into the category described above:
As currently drafted, the VIP Treaty would set a negative precedent, reversing years of joint U.S. and EU efforts to prevent the erosion of global Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and undermining the U.S. and EU negotiating positions in a range of other global IPR and trade negotiations.
And here's the really incredible part, which likens rights for the public to a disease:
Agreement of the VIP Treaty on the basis of this text (or anything approximating it) could negatively affect U.S. and EU IP-related negotiating positions across global forums for years to come. The risk of contagion is not limited to copyright issues alone, but spans the entire range of IPR issues, including also patents, trade secrets, and trademarks. U.S. and EU positions in the ongoing debates at WIPO, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNTCCC)--where IPR issues have been a politically divise issue for years--and the World Health Organization (WHO) could certainly be undermined.
The idea that more user rights is a "contagion" and might harm other agreements is, fundamentally, ridiculous.

One hopes that Red Hat will distance itself from such ridiculous language, which appears to go very much against the company's stated position on both copyright and patents.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 1:53pm

    It's "a just-discovered letter" for already signed treaty, Mike.

    But you're ranting as though it makes a huge difference now.

    Actually, any international trade treaty is bad for We The People in every country, but we can be glad this one is minor bad.

    Google's special invite to Techdirters in San Fran: come down to Smelly Wharf for our party barge! Enjoy steam-punk atmosphere of corrugated steel and all the claustrophobia you can handle! Party like it's 1899!

    09:53:25[k-810-7]

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 2:04pm

    Re: It's "a just-discovered letter" for already signed treaty, Mike.

    Anything that is "minor" bad still doesn't make it good any sense.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 3:03pm

    more to the point, who actually wrote this shit, or has he/she not got the bollocks to put their name to it?

     

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  4.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Nov 1st, 2013 @ 3:20pm

    Re:

    ... quoth the AC.

     

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  5.  
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    Brazenly anonymous, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 3:50pm

    Re:

    Bottom of page 2:

    Tim Bennett
    Director General
    Transatlantic Business Council

     

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  6.  
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    saulgoode (profile), Nov 1st, 2013 @ 4:09pm

    Hopefully the TCB are right in their prediction, that this will indeed be the first in a long overdue trend toward expanding users' rights (or rather, a reduction in the taking away of users' rights).

     

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  7.  
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    Binko Barnes (profile), Nov 1st, 2013 @ 4:16pm

    It doesn't matter what a business enterprise supposedly stood for in it's infancy, once they go full bore corporate the only driving force is profit and screw anybody or anything that stands in the way of maximizing profit.

    Corporations are fundamentally psychopathic in that they simply don't care about any harm they do to society as a whole until it impacts their bottom line. That's why corporations need to be VERY tightly regulated, limited and controlled.

    Unfortunately, in our influence-for-sale political system the exact opposite has happened.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    michael d, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 5:27pm

    Response to: Binko Barnes on Nov 1st, 2013 @ 4:16pm

    The problem is that Red Hat is huge in the open source community and taking the opinion of the letter can cost it a lot in the OS community.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 6:06pm

    "what, they don't buy enough lightbulbs?"

    ROFL! Nice one!

     

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  10.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Nov 1st, 2013 @ 7:20pm

    Re: lightbulbs

    How many blind people does it take to screw in a light bulb? Ans. What's a light bulb?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 7:40pm

    Mike,

    Did you contact Red Hat and/or IBM for comment? While reading the story, I was hoping for a response from the named companies.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 7:59pm

    money is the root of all evil. as the saying goes.

     

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

  13.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 1st, 2013 @ 8:35pm

    Re:

    Yeah, I'm thinking/hoping it'll turn out like what happened during the SOPA/PIPA debacle, where a bunch of game companies had their names attached to something that none of them agreed to or even knew about until someone pointed it out to them.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2013 @ 1:05am

    Well, contagion is a real threat to monopolies, if somebody gets the tiny sniff of freedom it is contagious and extremely virulent.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2013 @ 4:55am

    Re: Re: lightbulbs

    The correct answer is crunch!

     

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  16.  
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    Dirkmaster (profile), Nov 2nd, 2013 @ 5:38am

    Re:

    Well, actually, the quote is "The love of money is the root of all evil". A subtle but important difference.

    1 Timothy 6:10 for the curious.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2013 @ 7:38pm

    I can only wonder if anyone here has the ability to objectively entertain two competing positions on an issue of importance to competing groups. The constant "us vs. them" whining that takes place here long ago wore thin. Those advocating "weak" copyright, if not downright elimination, repeatedly generate comments along the lines of "Go man...get them a**h***s and make them bleed for all the horrific things they have done as copyright maximalist gatekeepers holding back our culture." As amazing as it may seem, those on the opposite side of issues such as addressed in the letter to understand and support the basic concerns the initiatives are intended to address. Unfortunately, these proposals are virtually never limited to these basic concerns, overreaching in ways that raise perfectly legitimate concerns on the part of rights holders. Are these concerns ever acknowledged here? Of course not. To do so would severely weaken this site's talking points and advocacy. If informed debate is a goal here, then encourage such a debate and do not try and stifle opposing views. Otherwise, this site turns into little more that a biased publication adding nothing to the conversation.

     

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  18.  
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    Forest_GS, Nov 3rd, 2013 @ 4:42am

    Re:

    I know for a fact that each side overreaches on it's demands. That's what techdirt has taught me.

    Still, if you think about it, 70+life is far too long. Anything over a lifespan is way too long.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2013 @ 6:58am

    Re: Re:

    70+ was not the rule for over 100 years, even though it was the rule in Europe and other countries following the European model. The US came late to the game precisely because of its insistence that rights be limited in time, traceable to identify rights holders, and subject to formalities deemed critical to retaining such rights. It also required perhaps the most important feature of all...rights under federal law did not attach until such time as a work of authorship was actually presented to the public, i.e., disclosed...the equivalent at the time the first copyright act was enacted of the term "progress". Both patent and copyright law mandated "progress" as a necessary condition. No disclosure to the public? No rights...period.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2013 @ 6:44pm

    "...in the ongoing debates at WIPO..." - no surprise there,

    "...the World Trade Organization (WTO)..." - of course,

    "...the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNTCCC)..." - excuse me? I think I must have missed something. What has the CCC to do with user rights?

    And "...the World Health Organization (WHO) could certainly be undermined." - Huh? What's the WHO's problem there???

     

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  21.  
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    Ninja (profile), Nov 4th, 2013 @ 1:22am

    They love to do stuff for the children, what about the blind children, are them souless demons? /sarc

     

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  22.  
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    GEMont, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 12:38pm

    Methinks likening the expansion of public rights to a disease, is, for those who made the statement, very true.

    Most of the legal work being done by these dinosaur corporations and their pet organizations is carried out behind closed doors, in secret, away from the public, because they rightly believe that the public would, were it to become aware of the desired maximalist results, interfere greatly with the construction of these new laws.

    Currently, the public is still pretty much ignorant of this move to eliminate innovation and preserve the ability of the coporate owners of current inventions and art to profit eternally at public expense.

    Should the public become aware of this, it could indeed create a situation similar in many ways to an epidemic of public interest, blowing away the ability of these "ownership maximalists" to work in secrecy.

    There would be no cure for such a disease.

     

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


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