State Of The Union Address Highlights The Dirty Trick Of Hiding More Draconian IP Rules In 'Trade Agreements'

from the keep-up dept

As we’ve been discussing, it’s great that the anti-SOPA/PIPA protests have awakened many to the horrors of ACTA. It seems that this may also help people finally learn about the nefarious practice of industry trade groups and governments to sneak bad IP legislation through “international agreements.” With President Obama mentioning the importance of trade agreements and dealing with infringement in his State of the Union address, many people were wondering if it was a signal about SOPA/PIPA.

However, as Harold Feld explains, it’s much more likely he’s talking about these new international agreements and treaties, like ACTA and (the even worse) TPP agreement that’s currently being negotiated (in secrecy, of course). Feld also highlights how these things always “ratchet up.” He points to the infamous US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (“KOROUS”). The agreement, which had a lot to do with protectionism for Hollywood, rather than actual free trade, was held up for years as the kind of “good” trade agreement that the US should be negotiating with others. In fact, when complaints about ACTA first came out, the USTR kept saying that ACTA was merely modeled on the “successful” KOROUS agreement. Of course, the impact of that agreement has been pretty bad in Korea — leading to an extreme increase in secondary liability for internet service providers, making it tougher to do business and causing them to shut off useful features. And all of this despite the fact that the Korean entertainment industry was thriving by adapting to a changing market.

But, as Feld points out, the efforts behind SOPA and PIPA show that the same entertainment industry who insisted that the trade agreement with Korea was so perfect, is now whining that the agreement is “too weak.” And, apparently, that’s why we need TPP. To make an already bad agreement much worse.

The good news here is that the public is becoming aware of this practice of hiding bad rules in trade agreements and then demanding we change our laws to “meet international obligations.” President Obama’s message may not have been directly about SOPA/PIPA, but it was an unfortunate signal about the continued use of questionable “trade agreements” to not just force the rest of the world into bad and damaging (for their own economies) IP rules, but to then turn around and use them to ratchet things up back here in the US as well.

One thing that anyone just becoming aware of these fights needs to know: the entertainment industry lobby is very, very good at what they do, and they never put all their eggs in one basket. While they love pushing for ever more draconian federal laws, they’re always working multiple angles, including international trade agreements, laws in foreign countries and… state laws around the US, which they can then leverage to get other states to follow suit. If SOPA/PIPA really fails on the federal level, you’ll see the same ideas pop up in all of those other places. In fact, we’re already hearing stories of such plans in all three things, which we’ll be covering in the days and weeks ahead.

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Comments on “State Of The Union Address Highlights The Dirty Trick Of Hiding More Draconian IP Rules In 'Trade Agreements'”

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The_Merovingian (profile) says:

Re: Re: Tinfoil Hat Question

ACTA is not toothless, it’s a completely different beast. It’s not so much about censoring the net as it is about forming an “international gang” that would give gang members the ability to enforce their own laws in other countries, as well as giving these countries the ability to “gang up” on other, non-conforming nations. IP holders are usually able to go after infringers in their own country, however ACTA will broaden that ability to the rest of the world (essentially giving groups like RIAA and MPAA global powers).

Beech (profile) says:

Too late

that would be weird since the US has “signed” (questionable constitutionally)ACTA already. Of course I recognize that the US isnt the be all and end all of the universe and maybe they’re pushing those laws through to distract people in other countries, but wouldnt it make more sense to push the distracting laws in the countries that have yet to sign?

I’m of the belief that the SOPA/PIPA push was indeed a big loss for the **AAAs (the extra A is for A-hole), but that they’ll be back in short order and end up getting what they want in a much sneakier manner, or at least trying.

kirillian (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Cry more about spilled milk. Instead of worrying about the few dollars you’re losing through piracy, why don’t you worry about the customers you’re turning away through your incessant stupidity? It’s been shown time and time and time again (Google it. You’re not worth my time to do so if you want citations) that piracy has little if ANY negative effect and more than likely has a strong positive effect that is difficult to measure. There’s no reason to penalize us for your stupidity and laziness. That’s what this boils down to.

Ed C. says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yeah…call me cynical, but ain’t it awfully convenient for the media industry that all of the stupid IP BS like software patents and import bans have kept most of the tech industries too busy to pay much attention to what had been going on in Washington. These “trade agreements” are only going to fan the flames too. Nice how that works out, ain’t it.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re:

IP isn’t going away.

If you’re smart, you’ll go to the table and work with the creative industries and work out your differences before government does it for you.

The tech industry is not going to be allowed to hold captive IP holders and make them their serfs. It isn’t going to happen.

Yes, because we all know that the world has to revolve around the entertainment industry. Frankly, I don’t see why the various governments of the world don’t just simply hand of their countries over to Hollywood. I’m sure we’d all be much better off with them making the rules. Get rid of all those illegal infringement devices like the VCR/DVR, iPod, Netflix…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Feeling has nothing to do with these issues.

Economics does.

The current content industries want to legislate inefficiency into distribution markets through IP and copyright. History has proven efficiency will always win. It benefits both the producers and consumers.

If a company does not take advantage of what new technology has to offer, there is some other company in the wings who will. And there are plenty of other content producers out there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

You don’t think the Internet blackout – or, for that matter, anything we do here – count for anything. If that’s the case, what’s a screenshot of this page going to do?

While you’re at it, how about forwarding some pages about Chris Dodd. You know, the ones where he said that he’ll stop paying MPs if they stop being his lapdogs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

What does Arab Spring have to do with this? Supporters of SOPA were only too happy to dismiss Internet protests as minority. Based on that perspective, what difference do you think a screenshot of Techdirt commentary is going to do, since it came from the minority that wasn’t espected to do much, eh?

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Gee, isn’t that what they’re trying to get with ACTA, SOPA/PIPA and that sort of thing?

And what makes you think the Internet can’t or won’t step up to fill the hole left?

It could start to get real lonely in that closed, walled garden no one can get into or out of. So why produce content no one will ever see?

Ed C. says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Nice try, but with the number of creators scrambling to get the fuck out of the legacy gatekeepers’ “walked gardens” increasing by the day, good luck trying to convince customers to keep paying again for retreads of the same tired schlock. The old guard had their chance to do it right, but they blew it–and blew it big. Now, the tide is turning, and it’s pointless to fight it. No matter how many competitors they get congress to nuke, it will no nothing to stem the flood–customers and creators who leave at this point are NOT coming back. In fact, the more they tighten their grip, the more creators and customers will slip through their fingers.

Joe Perry (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

We’re not bullying creators. If we’re “bullying” anyone it’s corporate shills and media gatekeepers that use their accounting methods and control over the industry and lawmakers to make a huge profit off of their artists while only sharing the profit with a select few big names, whom they decide on. If we were bullying the content creators there wouldn’t be musicians and authors coming out against SOPA/PIPA. has a short list of 24 about a third of the way down the page, and this blog has pointed to others who have come out against those bills.

Also, way to completely dismiss artists that aren’t part of the current system. That’s cool. There are plenty of good content creators who primarily use the internet to independently distribute their works, whether it be for free or at a premium.

This discussion has never been about protecting creators, or whether people will create in the future. There will always be artists as long as there is intelligent life, because people make art for the love of art. It was done that way for a long time before copyright laws and it will continue to happen in the future no matter what. This is about enormous marketing/production industries holding on to old methods of distribution and not giving their consumers what they want. They have tried to hold technology back at every turn and have continuously failed. This time will be no different. Even if they win this battle, as technology makes production less expensive and people learn to use the internet to market for almost no cost they will lose in the end.

Loki says:

Re: Re:

IP isn’t going away.

You know, I’ve seen/heard people in power tell the people they control (or think they control) thoughtout most of recorded history. That’s very much the attitude a bunch of priveledged nobility gave a colinists in the mid 1700’s. In the end it’s not going to work for you anymore than it worked for them.

If you’re smart, you’ll go to the table and work with the creative industries and work out your differences before government does it for you.

Yeah, the tech industry and the general public (at least those who were aware of the issue) offered, asked, almost pleaded for a seat at the table when they negotiated ACTA. They did the same with SOPA/PIPA. Your ptrecious IP industry gave us the finger and told us to kiss their collective ass. They insisted that it was all going to be on their term, end of story.

So now that they have discovered they aren’t the all powerful wizards they convinved themselves they were, and have been exposed as hacks behing a curtain, NOW they want to deal? I DON’T THINK SO. You will not treat me like shit when you think you have the upper hand and the expect me to compromise when you suddenly discover it is YOU on the defensive.

No I will not negotiate.
No I will not compromise.
You were offered the opportunity time and again when you had (or thought you had) the high ground, so you’re just going to have to deal with the consequences now.

The tech industry is not going to be allowed to hold captive IP holders and make them their serfs. It isn’t going to happen.

You seem to be mistaken. It’s the IP industry trying to hold people captive and make everyone their serfs. IP has become just a twisted form of welfare, these days, and like welfare, some of you people choose to vastly abuse the system. Well, your about to be taken off the bottle, so start getting used to it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

There is no such thing as an “IP Industry” any more than there is a “Negotiable Instruments Industry”, a “Tort Industry”, etc., and the sooner people disabuse themselves of this and other similar terms the sooner relevant discussions can move forward.

IP, a term I believe is terribly misleading, only adds ambiguity to discussions since it is merely a reference to a body of law, and nothing else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Content industries treat IP more like theology. People who preach it seem to say “Because I believe in this imaginary thing, it must be true and everyone who doesn’t believe like me must be wrong.”

Praise IP!

If you don’t believe in IP you’re going to hell (or jail; thank you Kim Dotcom).

One nation under IP!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

No what there is, is a lot of fat cats that have become addicted to the monopoly they illegally gained by bribing people in congress without the input of the whole of society.

IP laws are at the front and center of all this debate they are the very reason censorship laws are being proposed because now the old laws don’t work so good and neither will new ones, but I want to see any person inside society that will be willing to give up freedom and democracy for IP holders.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s not like the tech industry doesn’t hold a few shiploads of IP as well,so we know that eventually the situation will have top be worked out.

Come to it, the tech industry is holding no one capitve. That the “content industry” can’t or won’t adapt to reality is no reason to change reality to suit them.

Ed C. says:

Re: Re: Re:

In fact, the tech industry could hold the media industry captive, if they really pushed it. Who holds the “IP” for the digital cameras that Hollywood needs? The tech industry. Who holds the “IP” for the digital mixers that the labels need? The tech industry. Who holds the “IP” for the hardware and software that just about all creators depend upon for their livelihood? The tech industry. Who holds the “IP” for the internet infrastructure? The tech industry. Seriously, are NOT the guys big media want’s to piss off.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

This coming from the guy that:

– Takes pride in the fact that his people can buy politicians.
– Keeps saying to everyone to trust him and inumerous times was proven wrong.
– Supports a monopoly.
– Supports censorship.
– Supports erosion of the legal system for self serving reasons.

Oh that is just reach, what was that you said about SOPA again?

Was it not “Trust me, SOPA will pass and you freetards are screwed!” was not you saying all that BS?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

He’s not going to win. I’m not sure who will but Obama has broken (smashed) so many promises that would have made our government great.
He’s just as bad as the Congresscritters he yells at.
Arresting people in the dark of the night, taxing the wealthy at 30%, etc, These are just empty promises to get ppl to vote for him.

So far, he’s been one of the most dishonest politicians we have had, ever.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Horrors of ACTA” is an opinion that has always given me a measure of discomfort because it is not based upon a substantive understanding of law, but is in my view much more in the nature of a policy argument.

The horror stories about the provisions in ACTA as a matter of substantive law are simply inaccurate. It is, however, quite fair game to question whether or not the policies associated with ACTA are appropriate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What exactly is inaccurate about the ACTA hype today?

People warned everybody that it was bad,, we all saw it and understood what it meant and how it would be implemented in our own countries.

The long tail goes like this:

Monopoly ▶▶ Copyright ▶▶ ACTA ▶▶ SOPA/PIPA/OPEN ▶▶ Censorship ▶▶ Harm to market competition = Erosion of democracy/reduction of economic activity.

Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Definition of 'Industry Lifecycle

A concept relating to the different stages an industry will go through, from the first product entry to its eventual decline. There are typically five stages in the industry lifecycle. They are defined as:

i. Early Stages Phase – alternative product design and positioning, establishing the range and boundaries of the industry itself.

ii. Innovation Phase – Product innovation declines, process innovation begins and a “dominant design” will arrive.

iii. Cost or Shakeout Phase – Companies settle on the “dominant design”; economies of scale are achieved, forcing smaller players to be acquired or exit altogether. Barriers to entry become very high, as large-scale consolidation occurs.

iv. Maturity – Growth is no longer the main focus, market share and cash flow become the primary goals of the companies left in the space.

v. Decline – Revenues declining; the industry as a whole may be supplanted by a new one.

jose (profile) says:

ACTA and Wikipedia

ACTA says:

To protect electronic rights management information,16 each Party shall provide
adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies against any person knowingly
performing without authority any of the following acts knowing, or with respect to civil
remedies, having reasonable grounds to know, that it will induce, enable, facilitate, or
conceal an infringement of any copyright or related rights:

(a) to remove or alter any electronic rights management information;
(b) to distribute, import for distribution, broadcast, communicate, or make
available to the public copies of works, performances, or phonograms,
knowing that electronic rights management information has been
removed or altered without authority

My question is : Is wikipedia in danger because of this article? or is this article only attacking sites dedicated to infringing IP??

btrussell (profile) says:

“One thing that anyone just becoming aware of these fights needs to know: the entertainment industry lobby is very, very good at what they do, and they never put all their eggs in one basket. While they love pushing for ever more draconian federal laws, they’re always working multiple angles, including international trade agreements, laws in foreign countries and… state laws around the US, which they can then leverage to get other states to follow suit. If SOPA/PIPA really fails on the federal level, you’ll see the same ideas pop up in all of those other places.”

This takes a lot of money. Quit giving it to them.

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