by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 3rd 2012 5:15am
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jun 19th 2012 3:05pm
from the take-it-or-leave-it dept
Canada has been wanting to join, but the entertainment industry has been blocking those efforts. Japan has wanted to join, but automakers in Detroit have been saying no. China just has no interest in shackling itself to the interests of American companies.
Yesterday it was announced that Mexico has been "approved" to join the negotiations. President Obama announced at an event in Mexico that it could join the negotiations, leaving many people to note the fact that nothing at all was said about Japan or Canada. Well... today Canada has been added to the pack as well, though still no word on Japan.
Mexico presents an interesting participant on the intellectual property side. While its executive branch supported ACTA, the Mexican Senate was not happy -- voting to pull out of the negotiations earlier, and then rejecting ACTA directly. So it will be interesting to see how Mexico responds to the IP sections of TPP.
The situation with Canada may be even more troubling. There are reports that one of the conditions for Canada to join was that it had to accept the existing language in TPP and would not have veto rights to anything. Now, remember: the text of TPP is not public. So in order for Canada to agree, it needs to agree to abide by rules that it has not seen or approved. That's pretty crazy. Furthermore, as Michael Geist points out, seeing as Canada just approved its new copyright reform, much of which seems to conflict with the leaked IP proposals in TPP, Canada may have to dump much of the copyright law it just fought so hard to get passed.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, May 15th 2012 5:21am
US Government Gets 10% Royalty On 'Passion Of The Christ' Prequel In Plea Deal With Mexican Drug Cartel Money Launderer
from the say-what-now? dept
Jorge Vazquez Sanchez, who federal prosecutors claimed was a money launderer for a Mexican drug cartel, apparently hatched a plan to extort the script out of Madrigal. This was done by having some "associates" kidnap Madrigal's brother, in Mexico. In exchange for his release, Madrigal agreed to hand over the rights to the script. Vazquez, script in hand, somehow then sold the screenplay to a Hollywood production company now known as Aloe Entertainment (then known as Proud Mary Entertainment) for close to $1 million with a 10% royalty on any profits from the movie. From there, Aloe was able to get the wheels moving on a full on production, with famed pastor Joel Osteen acting as exec producer. Filming was expected to happen later this year.
Throwing a bit of a wrench into all of this is that the US government came down on Vazquez for his various illegal activities, leading him to cop a plea deal in which he gave the US government the 10% royalty rights in the screenplay. He also had to plead guilty for money laundering and extortion. But in giving the feds his cut of the profits, he may have decreased his jail time from 40 years down to 7.
Of course, the story doesn't end there. Apparently, minutes after officially making the plea in court (while still in court), Madrigal slapped Vazquez with a lawsuit of his own, saying that Vazquez had no right to sell the screenplay to Aloe in the first place, and he wants the rights to the script returned. Indeed, it would seem that the script and the deal are ill-gotten gains.
What's really bizarre here is the feds role in all of this. First of all, why would it ever want a cut of the profits in a Hollywood movie? Second, wouldn't it realize that the movie rights were obtained through illegal means -- and shouldn't it then have been the responsibility of the feds to return the rights to the script back to Madrigal? Either way, it seems pretty bizarre that the Justice Department appears to have given this guy a deal for a much lower jail sentence in exchange for some profits from a Hollywood movie the US attorneys had to know the guy had no right to.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 29th 2011 12:44pm
from the a-brief-reprieve dept
Thankfully, the EU Commission agrees... and has now said that it will not be signing ACTA this weekend, and also saying that Mexico and Switzerland have also said they won't sign... yet:
"The EU has not yet completed its internal procedures authorising the signature, therefore it will not be signing ACTA at this event," the Commission spokesperson said in a statement. "Neither will Mexico and Switzerland, since they did not conclude their domestic proceedings."Of course, this is not a complete rejection of ACTA, but it is a reprieve. It also sounds as though all the other countries listed will be signing, including the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Korea, Morocco and Singapore. That's a pretty bold move by the Obama administration, considering the evidence that signing ACTA in this manner without Senate approval is unconstitutional. I guess actually expecting the president to follow the Constitution is only important when you're not in office. Once you get there, all bets are off...
"For the EU, the domestic process for signature is that the Council [of Ministers] adopts a decision authorising a EU representative to sign ACTA. Since this required the translation of the treaty in all the EU languages, such decision has not yet been adopted. It may still require a couple of months for the EU to be able to sign ACTA. After the signature, the European Parliament will have to vote its consent of ACTA,"
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 27th 2011 12:19pm
from the failure dept
But even if this is considered "an executive agreement," the President does not have the authority to sign an executive agreement concerning intellectual property issues. Executive agreements can only be signed if they cover issues solely under the President's mandate. But intellectual property issues are clearly under Congress's mandate, and nowhere in the Constitution is the President given a mandate over IP issues. This is a clear end-run around Congress, and seems likely to be unconstitutional.
What I really don't get is why they're making such an end-run. As we've seen with things like PROTECT IP, most of the Senate seems to have no problem propping up the entertainment industry's legacy players with bogus laws and "greater enforcement." It seems likely that ACTA would probably sail through the Senate with little problem. But the administration seems to not even want to have the slightest debate on the topic -- which is greatly troubling, considering that the USTR negotiated the agreement in near total secrecy, refusing to allow public comment or debate (outside of leaks which it tried to block) until after the document was done.
The others that are listed as planning to sign the document are Japan, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland. Basically all the countries who took part in the negotiations. The fact that Mexico is on that list is interesting, given that the Mexican Congress has already told the Mexican President that it will not ratify ACTA, and made it clear that Mexico needs Congress to ratify ACTA to have it go into effect. In other words, it sounds like Mexico is facing a similar executive run-around as in the US.
It's pretty amazing. This isn't even just about Presidents doing an end-run around the public, but around their own legislatures. And for what? A bailout of some legacy entertainment industry players who are unwilling to adapt.
Since the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) would be contrary to various individual guarantees contained in the Constitution, Senators of the working group that monitor the process of the negotiations of such agreement, the Senate considers relevant to urge the Federal Executive power not to sign the agreement.It's become quite clear at this point that Mexico is no fan of ACTA. It's unclear if this will eventually matter, but for now it's nice to see a large group of politicians stand up against not just the ridiculously secretive ACTA process, but also the end results as well
A statement released by the PRI senator Eloy Cantu Segovia, who heads the group and where the reasons for not signing the treaty were discussed, says that ACTA would violate the principle of presumption of innocence in our country. This - which is explained in the text - is because of the ambiguity of some provisions of the commercial project (the agreement) that would be contrary to the security and certainty of Mexicans.
Also, specifically, the process of negotiating this agreement violated the Law on Approval of Treaties on Economic Matters, as its provisions were not implemented in a timely and sufficient way for the agencies involved in the negotiations. This generated opacity and impediment to the Senate to provide adequate follow-up to this negotiation, highlighted in the text. Similarly, the Senators in this group argue that the implementation of ACTA would be a limitation to the "universalization of Internet access desirable in Mexican society." Instead, it would widen the digital divide and lessen the possibility that the country is inserted into the so-called information and knowledge society, they said.
They warned that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement could lead to a censorship of Internet content and therefore a restriction on freedom in its operation and neutrality that the internet should have. They also noted that (ACTA) would put at risk the development of "legitimate commerce, digital creativity and legitimate cultural diffusion" of Mexicans.
In this regard, they stressed that one of the issues discussed was the possibility that "under the justifiable argument" of the protection of intellectual property rights, it could create rules that restrict freedom and neutrality of the Internet. However, they also stated that intellectual property rights are the best mechanism to encourage research, innovation, technological development, creativity and culture, so the Internet is a new scenario for the protection of these rights.
Therefore, we believe, it requires a specific legal framework for the protection of intellectual property must be made carefully, "so you have the necessary efficiency without generating a regression , or limitations on the reach of internet services in general and the right to their access. "
The statement said that after making several public hearings and meetings with the authorities responsible for these issues, the diverse group "enriched the information and knowledge on the subject with the views and comments of various participants." That - highlights - allowed a comprehensive view of the contents of ACTA, its purposes and possible effects of its application.
The document was submitted to the Political Coordination Board.
from the details,-details dept
Last Tuesday, the Second Standing Commission of the Mexican Congress approved unanimously a resolution, promoted by Senator Francisco Castellon, to exhort the Executive to not sign ACTA. The resolution was tabled and then voted on Wednesday by Congress (this voting included Congressmen and Senators). The text of the resolution is explicit about this request:
ÚNICO.- La Comisión Permanente del H. Congreso de la Unión, exhorta respetuosamente al titular del Poder Ejecutivo Federal para que, en el marco de sus atribuciones, instruya a las Secretarías y Dependencias involucradas en las negociaciones del Acuerdo Comercial Anti Falsificación (ACTA), a no firmar dicho Acuerdo. Dado en el salón dos de comisiones del Senado de la República.Importantly, the resolution is not binding, which means that the Executive still can ignore the clear will of Congress and sign ACTA... but the Senate will still need to ratify it afterwards and this doesn't bode well for that process. However, we must remember that this resolution is the result of a process that started 6 months ago. To try to bring some accountability to the opaque process of ACTA, Senator Carlos Sotelo presented a resolution (punto de acuerdo) last October to halt negotiations until the ACTA Working Group was set up and finished. The effort there was in order to bring transparency to the negotiations and the Senate could make a decision based on the arguments for and against ACTA from civil society, academia, the private sector, NGOs and the government. This resolution was approved, but the negotiations weren't halted. Negotiators met with the ACTA Working Group shortly after the release of the November text of ACTA.
UNIQUE.- The Standing Committee of the H. Congress, respectfully urges the Federal Executive Power so that, within the framework of its powers, instruct the ministries and agencies involved in negotiating the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), not to sign the Treaty.
Since the discussion of ACTA emerged back in October 2009, the position against ACTA has been lead by Senator Castellon. Together with the public and many people speaking out against ACTA, little by little the Senate has reacted accordingly to the demand of society, resulting in an interesting coalition that now includes many of Mexico's top political parties, including the Presidential Party, PAN. This means that ACTA would need the vote of the PAN to be rejected. Thankfully, Senators Breatriz Zavala, Santiago Creel y Federico Döring from that party have been clear about their opposition to ACTA.
During six meetings with academia, citizens, lobbyists from both the telecom and entertainment industries and government officials, arguments both for and against ACTA were presented. (Full stenographic versions at the microsite for ACTA on the Senate website). The last session was a "citizen reply" before the final meeting, where conclusions will be take. Unfortunately, it appears that this last session will not be public.
The same day that the Congress passed the resolution to officially telling the President to instruct ACTA negotiators not to sign, the last session of the ACTA Working Group was held. This session was specially important in understanding two key points:
- Rejection of ACTA is imminent during this administration that ends in middle 2012.
- ACTA could be signed by next administration.
Is Mexico out of ACTA. Yes. Forever? No.
Besides the solid arguments and evidence provided by the opposition to ACTA, it is important to bring attention to the participation of Senator Federico Döring last Wednesday: his intervention starts at minute 17:00 in this video -- in Spanish, of course.
Important Excerpts from the video (rough translation):
I'm not here to evade a political cost. I will review 3 points:Also noteworthy, is that one day after the ACTA Working Group met with the government officials involved in the negotiation, the lead negotiator of ACTA in Mexico and director of IMPI for 16 years, quit his public charge. (pdf, in Spanish).
Why we were against ACTA, why we are and will we remain against it?
Because ACTA is not well done. Let's look at it in pieces:
The previous director of IMPI (Mexican Institute of Industrial Property), Jorge Amigo, said to Senator Beatriz Zavala and me, in a meeting we had, that he had to make ACTA outside WTO (World Trade Organization) because, if not, it "wouldn't be made." He said it would make sense -- textual words -- only if China would get on board. We told him, well if they don't join and there is no arbitration panel, because it is at the margin of the WTO, what is it useful for? The silence was sepulchral.
Federico Döring continued:
Second: It is unconstitutional. It is a slap in the face to the intelligence of any Senator of this or any other party, of this or any other topic, that a law or treaty says that it doesn't matter what's in the Constitution or Mexican laws but just what ACTA says. Just to begin with.The day after the ACTA Working Group and the vote in Congress, the new director of the IMPI -- Rodrigo Roque Díaz -- declared to the newspaper, Reforma, that he didn't know the reason why Senators would like to reject a treaty that would establish a new benchmark for the protection of intellectual property worldwide:
PAN Senators are convinced that ACTA is not viable, even supposing that it wasn't unconstitutional, even in the context that we could implement it internationally, even supposing that the Senate would back it. The senators of PAN don't believe that it could be implemented in the Mexican legal framework.
You (who are against ACTA) articulate more points than the State could. You offered a position, something that the government was incapable of doing. And by the government, I mean not only IMPI, but also IFAI (Federal Institute of Access to Information) which is against ACTA. CNDH (Human Rights National Commission) are also against it, and they are also part of the Mexican State. The center of the Mexican Republic couldn't reach a consensus on its own position.
Neither could industry reach a consensus with soceity.
The point I'm trying to make is about the risk.
Interests in favor of ACTA -- those whom promote it -- are not going to go away in the elections of 2012. There is an enormous risk of ACTA not being ratified because of the political calculations that with this administration and this legislature that these are not the political conditions needed to support ACTA.
This does not guarantee that the next President won't sign the treaty using the cover and shadow of those interests. And you don't have any guarantee -- while we don't have any political reform -- that you will have with the support of Congress.
Today you have the support of the Senators and Congressmen and the only way of doing something good, is not only to say no, but to make a piece of legislation that could permanently shutter the topic so we don't have the risk that the next administration changes this position.
In this legislature, from now until August 2012, ACTA can’t be passed via ratification or Constitutional reform without the vote of the PAN. We are the first political group with vote participation. This guarantees you have it on the table. What you haven’t stopped is that ACTA can be resurrected in the next legislature.
What goes first? First to go are public goods in terms of slimming down the gaps and inequalities. Socializing public goods, everything that had to do with culture, information and artistic expressions.
We are working in the PAN, with Senator Beatriz Zavala, on that.
I don’t want anyone to tell me that we didn't tell you ACTA won't go trough or that we didn't invite them to the table.
The idea of ACTA is shattered for the political life of this country, at least from now until August 2012.”
"Yo desconozco las razones por las cuales la Comisión Permanente (del Congreso) exhorta al Poder Ejecutivo a no firmar un acuerdo cuyo principio es generar las mejores prácticas en contra de las copias ilícitas de obras intelectuales artísticas o la violación a los derechos de propiedad intelectual,"However, Roque Díaz was present during the last public session of the ACTA Working Group on Wednesday, at which much of this was discussed.
"The reasons why the Standing Comission (of Congress) orders the Executive power not to sign a treaty, the purpose of which is to generate the best practices against illicit copies of artistic intellectual works, and the violation to intellectual property rights, are unknown to me”
Federico de la Garza, director de la Motion Picture Association (MPA), rechazó que este Punto de Acuerdo frene la firma del ACTA, ya que, comentó, es una recomendación, pero no una ley.However, following those statements, Senators from other parties tweeted their support of the outright rejection of ACTA in Mexico, and we've seen a growing acceptance around the world of Mexico's resolution not to sign ACTA.
"No sentimos que se esté desvaneciendo el ACTA, porque México no va a hacer que un acuerdo de este calibre se desvanezca", declaró De la Garza.
Federico de la Garza, the director of the Motion Picture Association (MPA), rejects that this resolution halts the signing of ACTA, since, he said, it is a recommendation, but not a law.
“We don’t feel that ACTA is vanishing, because Mexico will not allow a treaty of this caliber to vanish”.
To summarize, ACTA is certainly being held back for now, and it appears that it would not get passed by today's Mexican Congress. There are still questions as to what will happen in the future, but there clearly is widespread support for Mexico to completely reject the agreement.