Hungarian Copyright Treaty Author Insists That Those Who Don't Like Anti-Circumvention Clauses Are 'Hatred-Driven' Maoists

from the ah,-language-choices dept

For nearly all of the history of copyright law, the law itself has been designed by and for a certain group of middlemen — even as it was officially supposed to be about creating incentives for the creation of new, quality content. For this reason, copyright law has changed radically over the past three centuries, as those middlemen repeatedly strove to ratchet up and increase their monopoly rents. However, with the introduction of the internet and the personal computer, something unfortunate happened to the middlemen. They discovered that suddenly this cozy process of middlemen and politicians constantly ratcheting up monopoly protections ran into a bit of a speedbump: that ratcheting up interfered with the daily lives of millions of people online.

Because of that, over the past few years, a growing group of people have become increasingly vocal, in pointing out that the true purpose of copyright law should be to make sure it actually does increase the incentives for the creation of new works, rather than taking it on faith (and the sworn word of the middlemen). This has upset the middlemen greatly — for historically they faced little to no opposition to their ongoing efforts to continually increase the monopoly rights granted to them.

Now facing serious opposition to these efforts for the first time, it appears that some of those involved in the cozy process of constantly ratcheting up copyright law (in one direction only) have decided that rather than present evidence as to why this is actually needed, they will simply break out two favorite mechanisms of the copyright maximalist arsenal: scream about “international obligations” over and over again… and when that fails, start the name calling.

Both are evident in an angry rant from Dr. Mihaly Ficsor, the President of the Hungarian Copyright Experts Council, and a former Assistant Director General of WIPO (i.e., the “old boys club” of folks who ratchet up copyright at every turn possible, based on faith alone, but not evidence of its need). Dr. Ficsor is particularly peeved at Michael Geist, for pushing back on the demands of other countries to radically change Canada’s copyright laws. Dr. Fiscor’s rant was posted to the blog of Barry Sookman, a Canadian copyright lawyer and lobbyist for the recording industry who has been a strong defender of secretive processes like ACTA negotiations and other attempts to change Canadian copyright laws on the whims of foreign middlemen, rather than any evidence of necessity.

I had thought that perhaps Dr. Ficsor’s response would raise substantive issues concerning changes to copyright law, or perhaps (and this would be wonderful) present the actual evidence of why such changes are necessary. Tragically, there is none of that. It is blind faith-based pronouncements instead — insisting that it’s necessary because it’s necessary, and then falling back on the mantra of “international obligations” for pretty much every other issue. Even on the one claim that he makes which he insists is substantive (that, despite not clearly saying so, these treaties do in fact require anti-circumvention clauses), he seems to purposely misrepresent history, pretending that he didn’t lose this battle over a decade ago already.

At the end, it moves on to the pure insult phase:

I am sure that the policy makers of Canada do not allow being misled and frightened by the noisy group of these “free-access” “revolutionaries” (I hope so since, here in the former “socialist” countries of Central and Eastern Europe, we have had quite bad experience of certain “free access” “revolutionary” collectivist systems constrained on us for several decades). I am sure that they will not let Canada to become an isolated hostage and victim of demagogue campaigns organized in the hatred-driven style of Maoist Guards as during that other brilliant “cultural revolution.”

Now, if you’re at all familiar with the Maoist Cultural Revolution, to compare that to those who are simply pushing for their own consumer rights on copyright issues or asking for actual evidence of the need for increasingly draconian copyright system changes, is downright ridiculous and insulting. No one is acting as a revolutionary, demanding “free access” or any sort of “Maoist” revolution. To make such a claim is pure ignorance. While some may disagree with the position Geist and others have taken, they have presented a position based on consumer and individual rights and an understanding of basic legal principles and economics. You can disagree with the conclusions, but to mischaracterize them in such a ridiculous manner raises all sorts of questions about what the copyright “old guard” has to hide. If they cannot respond to basic questions with actual evidence or actual answers, and instead resort to name calling like Dr. Ficsor does above, it seems only reasonable to conclude that there is no evidence to support their position. And when hundreds of thousands of Canadians spoke up to point out the emperor has no clothes, perhaps it’s not surprising that the emperor would lash out in anger, but it simply demonstrates how the “faith-based” nature of those pushing for ever more stringent copyright laws means that they cannot engage in reasoned debate on a position that has no reason behind it.

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Comments on “Hungarian Copyright Treaty Author Insists That Those Who Don't Like Anti-Circumvention Clauses Are 'Hatred-Driven' Maoists”

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Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Copyright champions don't know math

🙂 I really like the comments in that post ….

” If Big Content really wanted to make as much money as they could, why not adapt to changing market places, deliver products that people will use and what they want instead of spending WAY too much money trying to force through laws that basically destroy their business?”

“This is just another punctuated joke in the comedy that is the music industry’s epic failure. If a study came out the proved conclusively that file sharing actually increased music sales (as many believe) these clowns would still fight tooth and nail to pass laws to kill off file sharing.”

“This summer, EU Commissioner Viviane Reding said that increased piracy was a “vote of no-confidence in existing business models and legal solutions,” adding that it should be a “wake-up call for policy-makers.” The UK’s All Party Parliamentary Communications Group also concluded this year that “much of the problem with illegal sharing of copyrighted material has been caused by the rightsholders, and the music industry in particular, being far too slow in getting their act together and making popular legal alternatives available.” “

“Is legislation going to translate in more sales of Lady Gaga? NO, it wont. Piracy isn’t the issue any longer. It’s their inability, and general stubbornness to evolve and compete in the ever changing market. The politicians need to b!tch slap the major labels and tell them to grow a pair.”

And the post it self …..

“The BPI-commissioned study puts P2P use in the UK at 23 percent (among Internet users aged 16-54). The global music industry trade group IFPI says that P2P use hovers at around 18 percent in Europe as a whole.”

Laurel L. Russwurm (profile) says:

those middlemen are sure fighting hard

Some food for thought… yes, evidence would be good. My suspicion is that they can’t present evidence because I am quite certain it would prove the opposite: excess copyright HARMS creation.

You know, the funny thing is, if the existing middlemen weren’t behaving like jerks they might have carved out new ways of distribution with the emerging independent artists. Guess it’s tough to accept anything less after absolute power. Instead, when the indies are established enough to hire distributors there sure isn’t going to be work for the old guard as the entirely new industry will have it sewn up.

As one whose grandparents escaped from Russia during the revolution, I have always had a powerful interest in what happened when it became the Soviet Union. From everything I have learned over the years, there was never “free access” to anything except for those few elite (Orwell’s “pigs”) in positions of power. Perhaps Dr. Ficsor wasn’t one of that elite, and now that he sees himself as such an exalted authority he is distressed that we won’t slavishly follow his opinion. How dare anyone disagree with him.

@Anonymous Coward… I suspect it’s somewhat problematical to bring slander charges when you’re anonymous.

@Daemon_ZOGG… Sadly, because Dr. Ficsor is backed by such powerful interests people will listen. Even worse, laws may be written because of his ignorant advocacy. Speak out to your elected representatives!

I’ve put together a consumer POV public service blog post: StopUBB: DRM is BAD in an effort to explain DRM to the majority of consumers who have no idea what DRM is…. and now, back to xmas prep.

Devonavar (user link) says:

Link and censorship

It would be nice to have a link to the article you’re criticizing. For those who can’t find the original; here:

I am cross-posting this response to Dr. Ficsor’s post here, since comments on Barry Sookeman’s blog are moderated and my response on the original site has disappeared into the void. It’s interesting that the one hosting complaints about Maoism is the one censoring its comments.

Dr. Ficsor writes like a lawyer — this piece is so laden with esoteric knowledge of particular niches of law that I understand very little of it.

However, one thing leaps out at me: His “WHHHHAT?” reaction to “discovering” the existence of Michael Geist’s blog rings quite false.

I can only react with incredulousness that the former Assistant Director General of WIPO has not heard of Dr. Geist before now. Dr. Geist may not be widely accepted in the powerful circles that Dr. Ficsor travels in, but he is a focal point for WIPO dissent and has been for some time. His writing is followed not just locally in Canada, but internationally, and he has written several times for European news sources (such as the BBC). I do not believe that WIPO is so out of touch that it does not know who its enemies are. Pretending he has no idea who Dr. Geist is is highly disingenuous, clearly politically motivated, and bad for Dr. Ficsor’s credibility.

The extremely overwrought “shock” at discovering that people (such as Dr. Geist) actually have the temerity to disagree with some of the WIPO policies doesn’t help either.

So, although I cannot understand the bulk of what is said here, I can see very clearly that it is politically motivated. Therefore, why should I bother to understand it?

While my personal opinions fall closer to Dr. Geist’s than Dr. Ficsor’s, I really do want to gain a full understanding of *both* sides of this debate. Understanding is essential to resolve it. Why is it so hard to find good (meaning honest) writing on the so-called “pro-copyright” side of the fence?

Richard (profile) says:


The introduction of anti-circumvention measures suggests that either:

1 The content industries don’t have a clue about computer security. Anti-circumvention implies security through obscurity – which in turn guarantees that the security will be ineffective.

2 The content industries understand computer security really well. Well enough to realise that technically DRM is futile and so there is no point in trying to make it actually work – so a legal fallback is the only option.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Anti-circumvention

Worse, anti circumvention does NOTHING to stop people who were actually intent on breaking the law, and only prohibits people from copying stuff for their own private use, which harms *ABSOLUTELY NOBODY*, and would otherwise be perfectly legal. Considering that they wouldn’t even know if somebody copied something for private use anyways, it’s also utterly unenforceable.

The Mad Hatter (profile) says:

Ficsor can't provide evidence to back up his point

No one is acting as a revolutionary, demanding “free access” or any sort of “Maoist” revolution. To make such a claim is pure ignorance.

And that’s what makes them so dangerous. They are asking for proof, and I get the impression that there isn’t any to give them – or that the proof is in the negative.

Which would explain why Ficsor does nothing but rant. He can’t do anything else, without having countries who’ve already ratified the treaties decide that they made a mistake, and pull out.

The Mad Hatter (profile) says:

Doctor Ficsor is inaccurate in his two articles. I have pointed this out to him at great length here, here, and here. Professor Geist’s most recent post also covers Doctor Ficsor’s inaccuracies.

The biggest issue that I can see at present is that this treaty appears to have been put together without any peer reviewed studies showing that it was:

1) Necessary
2) Beneficial
3) Legal (privacy concerns among other things)

His claim that the DMCA makes the United States compliant with the treaty is false (see my third article).

Both Barry Sookman and Mihaly Ficsor seem to have sold their souls to the “content industries”, like the coal miner sold his to the company store in the classic song Sixteen Tons.

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