Senator Wyden Asks Congressional Research Service To Determine If ACTA Impacts US Law

from the good-for-him dept

While we’ve seen a lot of political pressure in Europe and Mexico where elected officials are quite concerned about ACTA, for the most part, US politicians have been blissfully touting the bogus line that “ACTA is about protecting our most important industries,” without bothering to pay attention to the details. However, late Friday, Senator Ron Wyden stepped up and expressed his concerns about ACTA, and has asked the Congressional Research Service to review the document to ensure that it does not, in fact, create legal problems in the US:

For nearly two and a half years, the United States has been in negotiations over an international agreement about how intellectual property rights will be enforced. This agreement, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), is nearly finalized and is an “executive agreement” that does not currently appear to require Congress’ ratification because it is not intended to impact U.S. law. However, some experts outide of government are raising concerns that the ACTA text is contrary to U.S. law and its application or would present a barrier to changes in U.S. law in the area of reform to damages for patents, or access to orphaned copyrighted works.

I ask that the American Law Division review the current text of ACTA, which is enclosed and available at, in order to provide Congress a written, independent determination of whether the commitments put forward in the agreement diverge from our domestic law or would impeded legislative efforts that are currently underway. I ask the Division pay particular attention to the provisions relating to injunctions, damages, and intermediary liability.

It’s good that he doesn’t just focus on specific changes to US law, but on how ACTA might impede important reforms to US law on patent and copyright issues in the future. I do wonder, of course, what would happen if the research does show problems with ACTA…

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Comments on “Senator Wyden Asks Congressional Research Service To Determine If ACTA Impacts US Law”

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Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: w00t

Actually, if you look through Wyden’s voting record, he’s an extremely good and thoughtful senator. Pro-consumer rights, pro-environment, was fairly anti-bailout (although he voted for Obama’s, despite his vocal criticisms), abolishment of the estate tax, opposes the Patriot Act, against the banning of flag desecration….

In fact, if we could get this guy on the right side of the gun control debate, he’d probably be Dark Helmet’s new favorite politician….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: w00t

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms..disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one.” – Thomas Jefferson quoting Cesare Beccaria, Criminologist in 1764. That was 230 years ago. -Thomas Jefferson

I agree with Jefferson here.

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Re: Re:2 w00t

“What logical reason is there to tax it again?” — So that we don’t get ever increasing numbers of people “entitled” to live without ever working, without ever sharing in the risks and burdens of society, just leisured parasites. The accumulation of money is quite similar to hereditary inheritance of feudal titles. The Rich become isolated and consider themselves different in kind, not just degree. They don’t care about the society they live in; they can always take the money and go be parasites elsewhere. We Americans kicked out such entitled hereditary idiots; you seem to have missed the Revolution.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 w00t

Not sure why you’re choosing to be insulting, but fair enough, you gave a logical reason (although I disagree with it, you made a point) for double taxing inheritance.

Now, what RIGHT does a government have to do this? A govt. should not have the right to point at someone and say, “you’re too rich, we’re taking your money”. Otherwise, why stop at inheritance? Bill Gates has too much money, doesn’t he? What difference does it make how he got it? Knock him back down to a “reasonable amount of wealth”, however you’re going to figure out what THAT is, and let’s start evening things out….

Sorry, I like freedom more than I hate the way the rich behave….

Sean T Henry (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 w00t

I some what agree with you on the issue of estate tax. First it in not double taxation it extends to triple taxation. Company gets taxed on what it sells you get taxed for your income on selling the items then the estate tax gets your family when receiving your taxed money then they also get taxed when using it to purchase items.

I do think that an estate tax is some what necessary I was pushing for adjusting the estate tax in Kentucky with the the help of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. We still have the law on the books but the rate is based on a federal number that is now 0. What they were pushing would have only effected about 100 families in KY a year and only applied the estate tax to individuals whom were to receive over $5,000,000 in assets. That would have helped makeup for some of the states money troubles that usually result in a cut to funding of schools.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 w00t

???? What revolution are you talking about? if you are intending to reference the American War of Independence, then your point is meaningless. IF you are pointing to some other revolution please state. The American War of Independence was fought (as stated in a document I suggest you read if you are referencing, the Declaration of Independence) for a large number of reasons, and not one time was it mentioned anything you just spoke about.

Point 2: the reason feudal titles where done away with was not for wealth, but because it automatically gave a person/or persons more rights and privileges than another person, hence the line “all men are created equal”.

Point 3: “leisured parasites” spend their money, that generates wealth for other people..if you do not earn something it seems less to you (hence good old Paris Hilton) and in turn spend with out generating more, and eventually that wealth has been spent back… and they become irrelevant again.

Finally is it required that you must work to live? who decided the work or what constitutes work? YOU and your socially correct individuals? how are you chosen, and what gives you right to take from me and my family? Do you accumulate money? if so why don’t you give yours away, just work, take enough for a roof and some basic food, and give the rest away? shouldn’t you be willing to take those steps all the way before taking mine?

TS.Atomic (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 w00t

“leisured parasites” ??

Presuming I read you correctly, the fact that someone earned/won/inherited a ton of money equates to being a “leisured parasite”?

How do you compare that to the govt taking my hard-earned money under duress and at risk of suffering the thuggery of the IRS, in order to give it away to the nth-consecutive-generation of welfare recipients?

Take Obama’s Aunt who overstayed her visa AND is in public-housing AND receiving welfare and/or disibility without ever having worked a single day in the US or paid one red cent in taxes? Would she qualify for your (presumed well-considered) label as a “parasite,”?

Or is that label just reserved for wealthy folks who only spend large sums of cash and pay larger sums in taxes than I do?

Bottom line: I don’t personally admire the “Paris Hilton’s” of the world anymore than you do; but I’ll be damned if I’ll fault them for having successful relatives that provided for them. They don’t owe me and I don’t owe them. Obama’s Aunt on the other hand, certainly has a public debt she is personally amassing. In her case, “parasite” seems a reasonable & prudent description.

Nate says:

Re: Re: Re:3 w00t

Thanks out_of_the_blue,
I wish that I had the patience left to respond to well meaning, would be thoughtful and informed people, with the respect that you show…. I am just so tired of the same damn arguments and same damn ignorance. I am so tired, angry, thoroughly disillusioned… with people and our system of institutionalized corruption.

Alex Bowles (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 w00t

You’re confused about what’s being taxed. It’s not the money, it’s the exchange.

If I pay you to mow my lawn, that money becomes part of your income. The fact that I earned that money (and was taxed accordingly) does not mean that the portion I kept was transformed into magical untaxable dollars that I can now use to pay others without them incurring any liability.

If tax law regarded an extended family as a single entity, then the case against taxing inheritance as income would be different. In that case, it would be like taxing an individual’s transfers from checking to savings.

As it stands, only married couples are taxed collectively. That makes sense, since marriage allows for joint ownership of housing, investments, etc. The recognizes this, and can treat shared income accordingly.

Inheritance is obviously *not* jointly owned. That’s the whole point. Ownership is – explicitly – transferring from one person to another.

It’s no different, really, from the transfer tax that cities asses every time a house changes hands.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 w00t

“It’s no different, really, from the transfer tax that cities asses every time a house changes hands.”

Uh, yes, it is different, because every example you’re citing has to do with business operations, conducting business, or otherwise taking part in the economy. Gifting accumulated wealth does not fall into those categories. Like…at all.

Taxes are supposed to be placed on the exchange of currency in business. And yes, I know that the govt. taxes “gifts” in excess of certain amounts. This too is unethical. The government needs to make it’s case for warranting taxes. In business transactions, it does so by setting up and protecting the system by which that business can be conducted. With gifts/inheritence, the govt. has done nothing to foster that transaction, and therefore has earned no right to tax.

Nate says:

Re: Re: Re:2 w00t

You are such an idiot Dark Helmet! Sorry… but not that sorry, because I have never been more passionate about an issue than I am about how stupid your position is.

You bought into the sound bites. Stop it! I am surprised that you did not call it the “Death Tax…..” All money has been taxed before, most of it many man times over the years.

” Let me first say there is no death tax in the country. Of course, if you poll people and you ask them: Do you want to eliminate the death tax? they will say sure. But you are not going to pay any tax when you die unless you have $2 million. There is no death tax in America. There is a tax on estates. At today’s level of $2 million, that affects only 0.5% of estates. When the exemption reaches $3.5 million in 2009, 0.2% of estates will be taxed. If the amendment is agreed to, we would be borrowing money in the name of 99.8% of the American people, borrowing primarily from China & Japan, to give it to the Warren Buffets, the Paris Hiltons, & others of enormous wealth in this country.”

“Raising the exemption level and lowering the rate in past legislation made sense. Under current law, in my State of Delaware, fewer than 50 families will face any estate tax in 2009. I oppose this legislation’s complete repeal of the estate tax because it will cost us $750 billion. Given the world we live in today, with clear domestic needs unmet, full repeal is a luxury that we cannot afford.
To add insult to this injury, the first pay raise for minimum wage workers in 10 years is now hostage to this estate tax cut. We are told that to get those folks on minimum wage a raise, we have to go into debt, so that the sons and daughters of the 7,000 most fortunate families among us will be spared the estate tax. We must say no to this transparent gimmick.”

Alex Bowles (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 w00t

Yes, that’s EXACTLY what’s being taxed.

Income tax does not tax the money. It taxes the income. If I inherit $1,000,000, that is, most assuredly, income.

Likewise, if I earn (and pay income tax) on $1,000,000 then use part of that money to employ others, they must treat that money as income, and pay tax accordingly.

The idea that taking inheritances will cause people to stop transferring wealth between generations is absurd. It’s like saying that the simple act of taxing paychecks (even at a mere 10%) will stop people from working altogether.

Let’s be clear, if you inherited $1,000,000 instead of having to work for it, you’re already coming out way ahead, since you still have all the free time that the earner had to spend laboring. Some would argue that this means inheritance should be taxed *more* than labor. For the sake of simplicity, I think you should tax all income sources equally, only adjusting the rate with respect to combined income from all sources.

Alex Bowles (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 w00t

Separately, what you’re saying is that only sales of goods and services should be taxed.

Investment income, property, and inheritance should all (for some completely unspecified reason) be 100% tax free.

This is brutally unfair, and totally insane. For one thing, it puts all eggs in one basket. If the economy slows, the entire government crashes. Distributing the sources of taxation is fundamental to basic stability.

You scheme also means placing the heaviest burden on those least able to pay, since the poorer you are, the more of your income you spend on goods and services. If 100% of your income is spent just making ends meet, then 100% of your income is taxed, and your effective tax rate is the same as the sales tax. But if you’re doing a bit better, and can save or invest, then your tax rate starts to drop. At the top (where relatively little of your totally income may be spent on goods and services), your effective tax rate is a fraction of that paid by the lowest ranking members of society. And that’s an even bigger threat to social stability than boom / bust budgeting for governments.

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 w00t

DH says it best and saved me some typing in the process(thx DH!):

Taxes are supposed to be placed on the exchange of currency in business. And yes, I know that the govt. taxes “gifts” in excess of certain amounts. This too is unethical. The government needs to make it’s case for warranting taxes. In business transactions, it does so by setting up and protecting the system by which that business can be conducted. With gifts/inheritence, the govt. has done nothing to foster that transaction, and therefore has earned no right to tax.

Nate says:

Re: Re: Re:4 w00t

So stupid… makes me want to cry for you, for us.

How can you say that the systems and infrastructure that gov. provides has nothing to do with someone getting rich?

Contrary to your belief, someone who inherits millions most likely will never have to work again, and then can pass that same right along to their children.

Just listen to what you are saying: “the government has no right to tax ‘un-earned’ income… whereas, if someone works away to build a business or barely get my as a teller at a store, the government can and should tax them.” That is what you said, that this was the most “ethical” system.

Let me put it another way: if someone wins the lottery, does the government have a right to tax the winnings? Or should that lucky winner and all of his progeny never have to work or contribute productively to society again?

You are saying that it is ETHICAL to tax EARNED income (!!!), yet UNETHICAL to tax UNEARNED income (!!!). Do you not think about your own beliefs, walking like a zombie living an unexamined life? How do you live with yourself?

locked says:

Re: Re: w00t

actually Dark Helmet, he used to get support from the NRA when his was a “liberal House member from Portland” and he recently voted to allow registered guns to be carried into national parks (there are places in the west where you drive through parks on the way to/from other places, the limit was making it so folks couldn’t take their guns with them day to day). While he might not be a party-liner he’s pretty pro gun rights.

Also – not sure which bailout you think he voted for – he voted against TARP by both Bush and Obama. He voted for the stimulus plan, but that isn’t a bailout (giving money to folks who, deservedly, are about to go bankrupt) but rather stimulus spending (Keynesian based government purchases from private sector business to make up for a collapse in private sector purchasing/and or tax cuts to all the private sector to do the same.) You may not agree with the stimulus, but to call it a bailout gives an out to every one of the politicians who did vote for the actual bailout – a far greater crime (as it had no economic justification – it was just a giveaway of taxpayer money.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: w00t

“Also – not sure which bailout you think he voted for”

I have to admit, I don’t intrinsically know a great deal about Wyden since I’m obviously not from his state, so I was going with Wikipedia on this one:

“Wyden was among several moderate Democratic senators who in early January 2009 criticized President-elect Barack Obama’s stimulus plan, calling for a greater emphasis on “tangible infrastructure investments” and warning that an effort had to be made to differentiate it from the Bush bailouts Wyden had opposed.[33] However, Wyden ultimately voted for the bill and voted mostly with his party on various amendments to the bill.”

Wiki had that under a section called “Bailouts”, which is obviously different from the stimulus plan, so my bad….

Jay (profile) says:


Ok, so there’s Zoey Lofgren, Al Franken, and Ron Wyden as the good Senators to vote for…

Patrick Leahy, Barney Frank, John Cornyn, Demint (He’s so bad he doesn’t get a first name recognition), and Kay Bailey Hutchinson to name a few that are truly in the hands of Big Business.

Somehow, it doesn’t seem fair or even how many to fight.

locked says:

Re: Question

that’s the point, thought apparently wydne isn’t the kind of guy to jump up and down and trumpet what he’s up to – just getting it done. The “executive agreements” are ONLY allowed if they DON’T impact US law. Only Congress may make or change laws. So if the American Law Division comes back and says that ACTA is a problem, the administration will be in a bind and would put itself in some real difficulty if it went ahead and signed anyway.

folks may not like incumbents, but some of these guys who have been there a while know how to work the system for our sakes. Lord knows if you tried to stop this head on those in the pockets of hollywood (hatch, leahy)would smack you down in no time.

Alex Bowles (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Question

That’s what’s so awesome about Wyden’s approach. He gets this, and sees it as a problem.

Indeed, he seems to recognize that flexibility itself is a fundamental component of IP law. He’s realizing that even if the ACTA treaty doesn’t conflict with any current laws (unlikely, but work with me here), it can *still* be in conflict with the law (and thus, ineligible for the Executive Agreement status used to evade Congressional oversight) if it destroys the law’s essential adaptability.

This “freeze the law by signing a treaty” strategy is the exact same tack that’s been used by the Drug Warriors to such catastrophic effect. A bit part of the reason that the Feds are stuck enforcing the current drug laws is that they’ve been woven into all sorts of international treaties that prohibit any of the signatories from making any internal change.

Prior to the Internet (and its ability to foster international cooperation) this effectively ended democratic process, since it progress demanded coordinated effort between a majority of voters in every single participating nation to undo the damage.

This is still a major hurdle, but is now surmountable in theory. Two decades ago, that wasn’t even imaginable. A decade or so from now, it may be a practical reality.

God bless the Internet.

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