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.


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Comments on “Big Content Goes Back To Sneaking Bad Rules In Through Treaties”

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14 Comments
Jack says:

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.

Joe Smith says:

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).

Kiwi says:

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.

Joe Smith says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Mr Rat says:

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.

ThinkSolveDo (user link) says:

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.

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