by Mike Masnick
Fri, Apr 29th 2011 9:19am
from the say-what-now? dept
According to the director of the Mexican Institute of Intellectual Property (IMPI), Jose Rodrigo Roque Diaz, piracy is not given due attention, which is equivalent to theft of a house or a vehicle.So, already, you know you're off to a bad start when someone can't comprehend the difference between infringement and theft. But, seriously, I don't think anyone can legitimately suggest that infringement in Mexico is a bigger issue than the illegal drug trade. I recognize that intellectual property maximalists have a long history of massively exaggerating nearly everything... but, it should at least pass the laugh test, shouldn't it?
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 7th 2011 1:49pm
Judge Censors Popular Mexican Documentary, Which Critiques Judiciary; Director Then Complains About 'Piracy'
from the funny-how-that-works dept
Apparently, some are ignoring the order to stop showing the film, and the entire film has shown up on YouTube, where its racking up plenty of views. On top of that, the censorship order has made the movie popular among people selling bootlegs.
Of course, SinkDeep also notes that even with all of this helping the movie get a lot more attention, the producers are complaining about this "piracy." Apparently they've been complaining on Twitter that people shouldn't watch the unauthorized versions, even as they're fighting the courts who have censored the original version. On top of that, this morning, the director successfully issued a takedown to remove the film from YouTube. Of course, this seems like a perfect place where a filmmaker might encourage more people to see a movie, just as it's been censored. It's too bad the reaction is the same typical "but, but, piracy!" reaction.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 4th 2011 7:09am
from the no-surprise-there dept
One of the core objectives is to circumvent international organizations in charge of "intellectual property", where maximalist countries such as the US and the EU have been facing growing opposition from developing countries. Not just WIPO and WTO, but also the OECD: Initially, the Japanese proposed to ask the OECD for some help in drafting the agreement, but US officials suggest a different process, stressing that that they have sufficient in-house expertise, and insist on avoiding any collaboration with international organizationsThe full cable on this matter makes it clear that the US had a big plan and that plan involved bringing together only "like-minded" countries, and Japan was gleeful about this, but had originally expected the OECD would help.
From there, the plans become even clearer. The idea is to first do all of this with those "like-minded" (i.e., protectionist) countries, and then use the agreement to try to pressure those developing nations and other nations concerned about the expansive problems of intellectual property law into "joining." In other words, stack the deck first with those who benefit most, and then use international pressure to force the agreement on those who aren't comfortable with the end result of such laws.
The cables show that ACTA -- although negotiated between "like-minded countries" -- is ultimately meant to be imposed on developing countries. Early on, the US and Japan deem necessary to recruit developing countries so as to ensure the "legitimacy" of the agreement. Jordan and Morocco are the first to be mentioned, given their acceptance of tough copyright, trademark and patents provisions in bilateral free trade agreements recently concluded with the US.Mexico selling out to US interests over its own people -- how nice. In fact, in one of the cables, Japan explicitly states that the purpose of ACTA is to impose rules on China, Russia and Brazil.
However, one key concern for the negotiators is that ACTA might appear for what it is -- that is to say an agreement drafted by rich countries to be imposed on the developing world. Mexican officials are especially keen on helping out on this front. During a meeting with US counterparts, Mexicans stress "their willingness to join the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations and push-back against Brazilian efforts to undermine IPR in international health organizations," according to the US account of the meeting. Brazil's push for progressive policies on the international arena is denounced by Mexican officials, who offer to play the "good cops" by acting alongside the US to push for maximal patent and copyright standards at the global level.
Oh yeah, remember all those claims from US officials about how ACTA was just an agreement to align "enforcement" techniques and really had nothing (nothing!) to do with changing laws? Yeah, turns out they were lying. In discussing the early plans for ACTA, US officials indicated to Japanese officials that the US was perfectly happy to change its laws to greater protectionism around copyright and patents:
He added that Congress has welcomed the opportunity to engage on these issues, changing laws where necessary. Moore stressed that the United States is keen to move forward quickly, but with an effective, high-standard agreement. As we work together to reach out to other like-minded countries, he said, it will be essential for Japan to consider seriously improvements to its enforcement regime.Again, almost nothing in these cables is new or a surprise. But it does confirm what many ACTA critics had said early on, and prove that US official statements on ACTA were clearly inaccurate at best, and deliberately misleading at worst.
from the well,-look-at-that dept
The Senator proposed to create a mixed analysis group consisting of experts, academics, corporations and members of the public that will analyze the current text of the agreementOf course, it's not clear exactly how much say the Mexican Senate has here. While the resolution claims that it needs to ratify any such agreements, I don't know if that's the case. In the US, for example, the administration will avoid needing Senate approval (which it needs for treaties) by designating it as an "executive agreement" instead of a "treaty." Of course, if you talk to legal scholars, they point out that the only real difference is that an executive agreement doesn't need to be approved by the Senate. I have no idea if Mexico has a similar setup. Also, this is just a "non-binding resolution," so may not mean much in the long run. However, it is nice to see that some actual politicians are equally disturbed over how the ACTA negotiations took place and the fact that some final agreement is just being dumped on politicians at the last minute.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Sep 15th 2010 8:04am
When You Realize That Copyright Law Violates Free Speech Rights, You Begin To Recognize The Problems...
from the shall-make-no-law dept
But, of course, these scholarly books often don't convince people who dismiss "academics" as not understanding the real world. Yet, the more you look, the more you see how it's out there in the real world that copyright law is regularly used to suppress speech and create serious chilling effects on speech. The recent example of Russia using copyright law to suppress dissent among civil society groups critical of the government is only one example. We've suggested, repeatedly, that the US's policy of pushing our copyright and patent laws on foreign countries is a huge mistake, which they don't comprehend. That's because they don't realize that these laws are, fundamentally, about restrictions on speech and on actions -- and handing such tools to oppressive governments, and believing that they'll actually be used to protect content creators or inventors is fundamentally naive and dangerous. We're starting to see it in China as well, where patent laws have been used to attack foreign companies in the aid of domestic firms. Copyright law has also been abused this way in China with "crackdowns" on "piracy" often being used to make Americans look bad.
And, really, this is just the beginning. As these oppressive governments realize the power of using these laws (pushed on them by American diplomats) for their own corrupt political purposes, these sorts of activities will only increase in both number and severity. Not just handing oppressive regimes these tools, but demanding they use them, is so incredibly short-sighted, it's amazing that US diplomats haven't already realized the problems involved.
Hopefully, the situation in Russia serves as at least some kind of wake-up call. Some are pointing out the seriousness of the situation, and noting that it's no one-off misuse case, either. Michael Geist has highlighted how things like ACTA and the USTR's Special 301 report are all about exporting these tools, without the careful balances that try to keep them from suppressing free speech. He notes that this isn't just Russia being Russia, but a direct end result of US pressure:
The US has regularly cited Russia in its Special 301 report, this year including it on the Priority Watch list. The IIPA, the industry lobby group that includes software associations, pushed the U.S. to target Russia, saying that is imperative that prosecutors bring more IPR cases. In fact, the IIPA complained that Russian authorities do not seize enough computers when conducting raids. On top of all this is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which will provide Russia with a template to follow on IP enforcement, including new seizure powers with less court oversight.Richard Esguerra is making a similar point for the EFF, noting that these sorts of actions in Russia are the direct end result of US diplomatic pressure, often coming from a few key industries, where those involved are naive about how such laws can and will be misused to suppress speech:
It has often been pointed out that the ACTA/Special 301 report approach seeks to export tougher enforcement measures - often to countries where free speech is not a given - without including the exceptions, due process, and balancing provisions. The recent Russian case highlights why this is such a dangerous and misguided approach that is apt to cause more problems than it solves.
But this issue isn't limited to Microsoft or to software. A sprawling, powerful group-of-groups in the content industry, including movie and music industry lobbyists, software companies, and others, is constantly demanding that governments worldwide be given new powers to search for and seize allegedly pirated materials, and that those governments should act on those powers forcefully. In the name of copyright enforcement, the lobby shortsightedly demands provisions that put human rights at risk throughout the world: the power for governments to censor parts of the Internet with so-called copyright filtering, power for governments' border agents to search travelers' goods for "infringing" items, power for governments to detain alleged infringers pre-trial.Lawyer Denise Howell has a similar warning, especially as we head into ACTA's home stretch:
If the copyright lobby gets their way with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) or if governments continue to act on the claim that "piracy" demands sweeping changes to Internet privacy and freedom, then we can generalize the New York Times headline -- "Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent" -- into something we'll surely see more often: "Regime Uses Copyright Violations to Curtail Freedoms."
This episode should remind legislators and policymakers worldwide of the real risk that powers enacted in the name of copyright enforcement can to be used to do real harm. Ensuring balance in copyright law is not just good copyright policy -- it's necessary to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms worldwide.
This story seems particularly timely given that finalization of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is imminent. Even without ACTA, a government in search of a pretext has all the tools it needs to ransack or seize computers in the name of protecting foreign copyright holders. ACTA promises to provide a whole new legal infrastructure and justification for such tactics, in addition to the myriad concerns it raises simply if enforced in a non-corrupt, as-intended manner.Finally, Glyn Moody points us to Jim Killock's analysis that highlights many more cases of copyright being used to stifle free speech:
Over in Mexico, environmental protesters are apparently also being attacked through copyright to censor their materials. A Youtube video was apparently temporarily taken down as the result of a regional government complaining their copyright had been violated by reproducing their animation of a planned highway....Copyright law and free speech are fundamentally in conflict. It bears repeating, because most of those pushing for things like ACTA simply do not recognize this simple fact -- and when they then try to export the expression suppressing parts of copyright law without the all important exceptions and guarantees of free speech, it should come as no surprise, at all, that governments use the law the US pushed on them to suppress speech and dissent. What is not acceptable is for US policy makers to continue to ignore this key point.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 13th 2010 3:10pm
from the for-all-sides... dept
"Media outlets have social responsibilities and have to serve the public," said Carlos Lauria, of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. "This is being produced by someone who is not doing it from a journalistic perspective. He is doing it without any ethical considerations."Ethical considerations like repeating bogus statements from officials rather than getting to the actual meat of a story? Ethical considerations like reprinting press releases without fact checking? What "journalistic perspective" does Lauria think is being ignored here, and why is there some mythical standard that this blogger needs to live up to?
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 29th 2010 2:16pm
from the getting-closer dept
Yes, without any transparency or participation allowed from those who it would impact most: the public.
How is it that any government is willing to participate in such a process? It's a massive travesty. The details that have been revealed suggest that this is a sneaky way to significantly impact copyright laws around the world, greatly in favor of a few industries that have been unwilling to adapt to a changing marketplace. This is protectionism at its worst. At the same time that US politicians are slamming China for its internet restrictions, ACTA seeks to place the same type of limitations on ISPs around the world that the Chinese government places on its ISPs, all done through a secret process with no public input -- even from many elected officials who are greatly concerned about both the content of the agreement as well as the way in which it has been drafted.
That the US government is orchestrating the whole thing at the behest of the MPAA and the RIAA, among others, is a disgusting display of industry influence in government policy. The administration should be massively ashamed of itself for not just participating in such a travesty, but in many ways leading the way and providing cover for the bogus claims of industry representatives and lobbyists that this is a minor trade harmonization issue, rather than a significant change in policy and an attempt to route around existing venues (that are willing to listen to the public and consumer concerns) in order to push through these changes on a widespread level.
from the very-public dept
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 8th 2010 6:46am