Obama Administration Claims Copyright Treaty Involves State Secrets?!?

from the openness,-transparency dept

Plenty of folks are quite concerned about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations are being negotiated in secret. This is a treaty that (from the documents that have leaked so far) is quite troubling. It likely will effectively require various countries, including the US, to update copyright laws in a draconian manner. Furthermore, the negotiators have met with entertainment industry representatives multiple times, and there are indications that those representatives have contributed language and ideas to the treaty. But, the public? The folks actually impacted by all of this? We’ve been kept in the dark, despite repeated requests for more information. So far, the response from the government had been “sorry, we always negotiate these things in secret, so we’ll keep doing so.” At one point, even the ACTA negotiators held a closed-door meeting and then released a press release saying they discussed being more transparent, but haven’t actually followed through.

When the Obama administration took over, there was a public stance that this administration was going to be more transparent — especially with regards to things like Freedom of Information Act requests. The nonprofit group Knowledge Ecology International took that to heart and filed an FOIA request to get more info on ACTA. The US Trade Representative’s Office responded denying the request, saying that the information was “classified in the interest of national security pursuant to Executive Order 12958.” This is a treaty about changing copyright law, not sending missiles somewhere. To claim that it’s a national security matter is just downright scary. As KEI points out, the text of the documents requested have been available to tons of people, including more than 30 governments around the world and lobbyists from the entertainment industry, pharma industry and publishing industry.

But when the public asks for them, we’re told they’re state secrets? This is transparency? This is openness?

As Declan McCullagh points out at News.com, Executive Order 12958 only allows material to be classified if revealing it would do “damage to the national security and the original classification authority is able to identify or describe the damage.” Can the US Trade Representative please describe the damage to national security if the public gets to see what’s being proposed that would require governments around the country to enact significantly more draconian intellectual property laws?

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Comments on “Obama Administration Claims Copyright Treaty Involves State Secrets?!?”

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UBW says:

I see this as backfiring greatly, you can bet that the EFF and many other organizations will be on this in an instant and lawsuits will be filed in the near future. And I for one do not any court accepting the argument that somehow a proposed copyright treaty, already seen by a good number of businesses and many governments, is a state secret that can cause damage to national security.

Reed says:

State and Corporate security

Seems like the line between national security and the entertainment industries security is getting blurred.

Considering that we are heavily reliant on IP rights and litigating to make money is it any wonder that Uncle Sam is stepping in to protect one of his most important constituents?

They know that any public debate would quash their ridiculous ideas so they do it behind closed doors. The government then steps in to protect yet another failing business model at the detriment of our ability to create and innovate.

This is the same old story for any industry out there. Once a group of corporations attains the type of undeserved wealth as our entertainment industry has they quickly use their power to manipulate markets so they can continue to make their “cut”.

If you really want to see who is pulling the strings just follow the money.

Anonymous Coward says:

Security Clearances?

If this is information really has a national security classification, then do all those entertainment industry people who have accessed it have national security clearances? If not, then shouldn’t the federal swat teams be going after them? Or is the FBI really so much in the entertainment industries pockets these days that they’ll even overlook what should be serious criminal violations comitted by the industry?

Anonymous Coward says:

90% of the iceburg is below water

What is this really about? I believe it’s ensuring a $500 Louis Vuitton handbag that could be manufactured in China for $3.50 never makes its way to market, with hopes it remains with a $700 price tag. What tangible value does it have? Does it have $700 worth of materials, or are you buying into an intangible, a brand, which peddles a product with an inflated value? Someone needs to brush off their old econ books and re-read EMH (Efficient Market Hypothesis).

Mark my words: Actions such as this will eventually fully legitimize Creative Commons, GPL and GNU, and lead to further shunning of yester-years accepted models.

When knowledge of these atrocities and complete whoring out of the IP system come to light, it will result in wholesale rejection of the establishment that created the legislation. True Artists, Inventors, Guilds, and otherwise will go elsewhere. The creators themselves won’t put up for it, and instead will move to Public Domain, Creative Commons, GPL or GNU-friendly licensing and outlets that follow the spirit these alternatives put forth and release their creative through 3rd avenues.

Valuing the creation over the creator won’t work. Creating secret laws to take protect the Creation is stupid. Thinking that slapping a brand name will inflate a product’s value 2000% is delusional.

As a country, we have had enough shell games, ponzi schemes, and blatant lies told to us to last several generations.

Either you have transparency to the real issue or you don’t. You don’t create wealth by fancy politics or taking advantage of people.

In America, you create wealth with hard work. This is just another paperwork scam to create false inflation of paper akin to CDOs and MBSs. A house of cards.

yogi says:

The new Musuc business model

This is just like catch-22: if your business is in trouble
all you have to do is convince congress that your business is vital to national security and therefore must be supported by the taxpayers.

“The Commies are stealing our music! America will not stand for that”

The next step: bombing homes of Communist file sharers.

Clearly the guys at the RIAA and MMPAA have a great sense of humor.

The U.S. is fastly becoming a most unattractive place to live in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The new Musuc business model

France has even worse copyright laws than the US, and both the UK and Australia are three steps ahead of the US on the way to a police state. I can’t say I know much about Spain at all, though I think I read somewhere that Norway and the Netherlands have some pretty painful income taxes…

Anonymous Coward says:

Corporations abuse welfare more than any individual ever has. Women who live off of it to feed their children need it more than multinational corporations sending lobbyists to congress.

Nothing is going to change until it is forced to. When corporations have raped the Earth enough to where the population can no longer be supported, that’s when things will change. Anyone who knows anything knew that nothing significant would change when a corporate whore like Obama took office.

Ryan says:

Re: Re:

Corporations abuse welfare more than any individual ever has. Women who live off of it to feed their children need it more than multinational corporations sending lobbyists to congress.

Nothing is going to change until it is forced to. When corporations have raped the Earth enough to where the population can no longer be supported, that’s when things will change. Anyone who knows anything knew that nothing significant would change when a corporate whore like Obama took office.

Ignoring the fact that this is a different situation than the topic at hand, there is no such thing as a government that passes out welfare derived from general taxation completely honestly and altruistically. Anytime the men in power are in charge of determining who gets what, the system will get gamed. Wish for a utopian dreamworld where a well-meaning government takes from the successful and gives to the needy and nobody takes advantage in one hand, take a shit in the other, and see which hand fills up first.

Anonymous Coward says:

I highly doubt there will be anything done by this socialist does that doesn’t turn out to be very troubling for all our children. It makes me very angry to think of the suffering my son is going to have to suffer because of a bunch of haters who think they are to good to work and that the government should provide for all their needs have brought to his life.

Milton says:

Hold on a minute

My problem here is that this claim is astoundingly short on support. I click on the links to arrive at other TechDirt Blog entries and if i keep going and going, I find a couple obscure blogs that specialize in paranoiac shit…who also don’t support their claims.

I want more than self-affirmation to these claims before I start hooting cliches from my open window and writing even tireder ones. (see that old/new boss, adnauseum thing…God, that’s older than Mithridates)

I thought this readership was the cynical type…I ought to have researched that one better, I guess.

bikey (profile) says:

national security

Yes, new boss, old boss same thing only worse. New boss has mental capacity, potential to be much more disappointing as what can we hope for after this.
Anyway, OF COURSE it’s national security – this is the only card the US economy has left to play. If IP fails them, it’s lights out. Why isn’t this clear to everyone?

Makaainana says:

Trade Secrets/ National Secrets

“I am committed to a more open transparent government.” Isn’t that what the President said?

How is cloaking trade rules a national secret? The law allowing for the classification of documents says the classifying agency has to state why the item is a secret does it not? So…

My concern quotient is going up with the President’s administration…

bikey (profile) says:

Re: Trade Secrets/ National Secrets

ACTA is not about trade rules. It’s about making sure nothing that would break IP national monopolies goes over borders. It authorizes all electronic equipment searches by all signatory states’ customs officials, and combined with data retention and disappearance of privacy, and high criminal penalties, it will assure that no one downloads or carries anything that these guys think threatens their last claim to hegemony – IP.

LinkP (profile) says:

We allow it...

As long as “We the People” allow this to happen it will continue and it *will* get worse. Writing about it on the Internet is a good start but more needs be done. Write your congressman (or whatever your country calls it). Start petitioning those in charge. If nothing else works, replace the damn government! I believe the phrase was: “Taxation without representation”?

Happy Phil (user link) says:

Ask again.

If one reads the story, you will notice that, “someone at the trade representative’s office”, said it was a matter of security.

I would suggest that “Knowledge Ecology International”, put in another request and find out who the “someone” was, that denied their first request, before getting outraged and offended, (Like some of the posters, here).

Jason K says:

National Security?

I think by being transparent on this issue may do damage to an already bad economy. I can see the public boycotting a lot product if this gets out. It’s still in the negotiation process, and I don’t think there has been another meeting on ACTA since Obama was swarn in.

I think they should just walk away from this. If they are that worried about damaging evidence being presented to the public, it sounds as though it’s not good policy to begin with, why bother pursuing it?

Don'tBlameMe-IVotedForHunter says:

Bait & Switch

Our new President [Spit] is a master of the ol’ “bait & switch”. Lure you in with his sweet, “tell you what you want to hear” campaign teleprompter (and the good little lib sheeple drank it all in like a bum chugging a free keg), only to start swinging the hammer & sickle now that he no longer needs the useful-idiots that elected him.

With his approval rating already dipping below where Bush was at the same point in his administration, the eye-opening “buyer’s remorse” now being expressed by more and more libs is becoming too loud to be hidden any longer.

Rush Limbaugh and many others tried to warn you before the election (loudly and often) and you refused to listen.

So if you voted for the fool, quit your whining and lay in the bed you have made for yourselves. Perhaps you can form a new “angry drum circle” (or whatever other non-substantive, unproductive, emotion-driven waste of time makes you feel “empowered” against “the man”).

The rest of us are going back to work to try and clean up your mess.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bait & Switch

The rest of us are going back to work to try and clean up your mess.

No you aren’t. You’re going to sit there and be self-righteous and say things like “don’t blame me,” and “sleep in the bed you’ve made,” completely missing the point that this isn’t about who was wrong and who was right — it’s about where the country’s going. And that affects all of us, no matter who we voted for. Still, I’d be surprised if you raise one finger to try to fix this mess than we’ve all been put in.

Matt says:

Re: Bait & Switch

It’s not just Obama, it’s every president. The people of the U.S. aren’t being represented anymore. It’s almost as if the government brainwashes everyone who becomes president into thinking that money is the best out of everything. It’s such a childish act…disgusting.

Yeah…I don’t think listening to Rush Limbaugh is the best thing either:

Anonymous Coward says:

EU Response to document request

This comes from an Ars Technica article by Nate Anderson dated November 7, 2008:

“The EU has turned down a request for Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) documents filed by the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII). In a letter to the group, the EU said simply that “the documents contain negotiating directives for the negotiation of the above mentioned agreement. These negotiations are still in progress. Disclosure of this information could impede the proper conduct of the negotiations.””

Grae says:

Misleading Article

Man, Chicken Littles running all over the place, kicking up a frenzy over a knock on the noggin.

Guess what, Obama probably wasn’t even aware of the request or its refusal, Peter Allgeier, the Deputy US Trade Rep, appointed by Former President Bush would have been the one to receive and act on the FOIA request, and that he acted totally in line with the Bush administration’s policies is about as shocking as being told water is wet.

Obama has yet to shake up the USTO, so relax, and stop blaming a man for actions that staff appointed by the old boss made. Obama is not omniscient, unless there’s evidence that Obama knew about this FOIA request and did nothing to stop it being blocked, you people need to stop tossing around red herrings.

Honestly kinda disappointed in the article, this information wasn’t even difficult to locate.

Sean says:

Why isn't this headline news?

When everybody is basically a pirate station, the goal sounds to create internet boarders while opening the door to privacy violations. Secretly, it just comes down to Russia & China is basically giving the technological “finger” to the west & they don’t like it. If this doesn’t pass I’ll be suprised. LOL

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