Hollywood Gets To Party With TPP Negotiators; Public Interest Groups Get Thrown Out Of Hotel

from the yeah,-that-doesn't-look-corrupt-at-all dept

We’ve been talking about the ridiculous levels of secrecy around the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) agreement — a trade agreement that is being designed to push through basically everything that Hollywood wants in international copyright law. Last week, we mentioned that various civil society groups were planning to hold an open meeting about TPP in the same hotel where the negotiations were being held (in Hollywood, of course).

However, it appears that once the USTR found out about this, it got the hotel to cancel the group’s reservation at the hotel. According to Sean Flynn, the Associate Director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) at American University:

The public interest briefing was booked last week and advertised to all delegations, including the host USTR. An hour after the invitation was sent, we received a cancellation of our venue by the hotel. The cancellation by by Sophie Jones, Event Sales Manager, Sofitel Los Angeles stated:

“I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news but unfortunately we will not be able to move forward with your luncheon for Tuesday January 31st. It was brought to my attention that we have a confidential group in house and we will not be allowing any other groups in the meeting space that day. Again, my apologies for the late notice. Hopefully we can work together in the near future.”

Okay. I guess if no other groups are allowed in the meeting space that day it’s understandable. Except… oops… someone in the group confirmed that the hotel was lying:

After receiving the cancellation, members of an advocacy organization called the hotel and were able to book a room for a claimed private event not related to the TPP. Apparently only TPP-related events were banned from the hotel at the request of an unidentified party. USTR is serving as the host of this meeting.

Well, at least MPAA execs were similarly blocked from access to the negotiators, too, right? Nope:

The film industry did not have similar problems – they hosted a multi-hour tour of 20th Century Fox Studies last night, led by a representative of the studio’s government relations office.

Yeah. This is what corruption looks, smells and tastes like. And the MPAA still doesn’t get it. They still think that backroom deals like this are fine and that the public won’t notice or care. That’s quite a bet to make, and one they may regret.

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Comments on “Hollywood Gets To Party With TPP Negotiators; Public Interest Groups Get Thrown Out Of Hotel”

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147 Comments
Loki says:

Re: Despicable

It is beyond despicable. It is unequivocably unacceptable. I patently refuse to accept or abide by any legislation or agreements that I, or some approved representative, was part of the process of crafting.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

I intend to fulfill that duty and fight these efforts to the best of my ability.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: All Bets!

>>I doubt they even know what 4chan is.

Yeah, they do. My “whiners at 4chan” is a direct quote from one of the SOPA supporters. It was in a news article I have read within the last 24 hours, but I don’t remember exactly where. Normally I would have said “whiners at Reddit” but I remembered the quote.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: How isn't this going to hurt Obama?

You do know that, not only does Obama not control every single government employee, but it’s also very difficult to dictate another government entity’s policies. Sure, it can be done, but there’s a series of bureaucratic procedures and general backs-you-don’t-stab, lines-you-don’t-cross methods.

Then again, this is a new age of government where “to hell with policy” is the new response to each other. I dunno, maybe Obama needs to be underhanded and downright Republican-style evil to prevent this sort of crap from continuing.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: How isn't this going to hurt Obama?

Come on, get with the times. Haven’t you heard? Every single awful thing the government does is directly because of Obama. Every good thing is in spite of him. Talking about the separation of powers just confuses people!

I was stuck in a two hour traffic jam today, proving that Obama’s a bastard.

/sarc

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: How isn't this going to hurt Obama?

then in that case, the hotel should be made to suffer, i.e user reviews, lack of business etc etc, i dont condone it, and hate the fact that employees will suffer for it, but that seems to be the only way that the big fat cats of the hotel will listen.
and in doing so, other companies might start to get weary, the next time a big fat powerhouse comes a calling,

food for thought

there needs to be an awareness, that its not only the rich and powerfull that you need to cater for

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: It's a Hollywood hotel

” in that case, the hotel should be made to suffer, i.e user reviews, lack of business etc etc, i dont condone it, and hate the fact that employees will suffer for it, but that seems to be the only way that the big fat cats of the hotel will listen.”

If this is a semi luxury hotel near the major studios in Los Angeles they probably get a significant chunk of their business from said studios, and it will be hard for normal people to effectively boycott or otherwise influence them. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try anyway.

A Monkey with Atitude (profile) says:

Re: Re: How isn't this going to hurt Obama?

Last Time I checked the USTR works for the Executive Branch, under the State Department, and as the USTR is a normally very visible, to the public and other nations, their activities are at least, part of a weekly briefing to the President (some times daily)…. at least that was the report from his CHIEF OF STAFF… just like Eric Holder i guess… when people like what they do they take credit, but if its bad is “Republican-style evil” and their not responsible…

Nice double standard ya have there, can the rest of us try it on? or is it just for the blind sheeple such as your self?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> I would think offering public facilities
> like that for hire, they are not allowed
> to discriminate.

They can discriminate however they like, so long as it’s not on the basis of a federally protected class.

Kicking out the National Organization of Women because of their views on women’s rights: illegal.

Kicking out the Dallas Cowboys Fan Club because the hotel’s owner is a Steelers fan: completely legal.

It may be bad for business, but beyond possible breach of contract issues, it’s nothing that gives rise to a legal cause of action.

Anonymous Coward says:

It just shows how deep the money involved in the Legacy industries can corrupt, if even hotels with no stake in the issue can be corrupted.

How much money was the hotel paid to block other meetings? What stock in the legacy entertainment industries do people in the upper management of the hotel have? They’re obviously getting paid off here.

TamTroll says:

“Hollywood Gets To Party With TPP Negotiators; Public Interest Groups Get Thrown Out Of Hotel”

hey you bunch of vengeful little whiny children you should let the adults have their party and stop whining so much you are just a bunch of little whiny children mad about the megaupload takedown and you want to get back at dodd for practically bribing politicians with campaign contributions in exchange for laws yes you want to get back at him because you are vengeful and think that bad behavior deserves to be punished, you know that’s all this is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“hey you bunch of vengeful little whiny cronies you should let the public have their party and stop whining so much you are just a bunch of little whiny children mad about the lack of internet control and you want to get back at the public for daring to speak up with a medium you cant control yes you want to get back at your customers because you are vengeful and think that civil liberties deserves to be punished, you know that’s all this is.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Contempt

I thought pirating was because everyone wanted things free?

That is why people pirate. But often people will have a guilty conscience about ripping off musicians and will start to pay. That isn’t what Mike Masnick and the rest of the tech industry want. They want you to pirate. So he comes up with stories that he hopes will discourage people from having a guilty conscience, and actually instead make people think they’re justified in pirating.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Contempt

> So he comes up with stories that he hopes
> will discourage people from having a guilty
> conscience, and actually instead make people
> think they’re justified in pirating.

Masnick is not inventing these stories. This shit is actually happening. If the behavior of the entertainment industry make people feel less guilty about pirating, then maybe the industry shouldn’t be such complete asshats in the first place.

You’re essentially saying that whenever the entertainment industry is caught doing something anti-democratic and corrupt, it’s the fault of the people who point it out and talk about it, rather than those who are actually behaving badly in the first place.

What a perfectly Orwellian argument you’ve come up with. Kudos!

I wonder, are you the same AC who claimed a few months back that it was inappropriate for Masnick to encourage people to call/write their elected representatives and express their opinion on SOPA/PIPA; that it was essentially blackmail for constituents to tell their member of Congress how they feel about the issue?

‘Cause it would be perfectly fascistly consistent of you if you are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Contempt

Mike would’nt have a leg to stand on, if there were’nt people who have similar thoughts to these issues, its certain if not all, governments who have gotten used to telling its flock of sheep, to think what they want them to think.
at least here i can read comments with the same thoughts that go through my head, and not the thoughts that im suppose to be thinking

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Contempt

yes, my friend, thats what im saying, im the only one who can think for myself

what im saying is there are a few out their who will support their goverments over its people, regardless of the subject, whether right or wrong, some will justify any subject because they beleive blindly in their government or in some cases have been payed to believe in their government, and im not so blind to realise im doing the exact same thing trying to justify this thing right now, question is who are we justifying for

your government, or your people, and no, i no longer consider them one and the same

im against it, becuase there is a cancer in this world, and the only ones who can afford the cure are the rich and powerfull

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Contempt

> Mike Masnick wants you to pirate, and hopes
> that by encouraging resentment of the content
> and media companies that you’ll feel justified
> in pirating from them.

So you’re basically condoning the fact that the industry is negotiating laws that affect everyone in secret, excluding the public from the those negotiations, and when the public tries to hold its own meeting, bribes the hotel into shutting it down?

This is admirable and acceptable behavior but piracy is wrong?

That about sum up your position on the subject?

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Contempt

Thanks to Mike, I am a pirate. I resisted the urge for years, paying $20 or more for DVDs of the latest Hollywood crap, but every TechDirt post weakened me.

Eventually I gave in and downloaded the first episode of “Work It” after watching it for free on TV. I felt bad for downloading it (but not as bad as I felt sitting through that dreck) so to ease my conscience, I went to that despicable Youtube and watched a few commercials before the videos started (but then quickly closed the windows before the actual videos started playing. I’m no freetard.)

Now I’m a pirate, and it’s all Mike’s fault. He is evil and should go to hell. I have failed you, Hollywood. Can you forgive me? How much will it cost? What is the best way to give you money? Netflix? Red Box? Cable TV? DVD? Bluray Deluxe Editions? The movie theatre? What’s that you say? All of the above? I wish I had a $100 million dollars to give you so you could make more garbage to devour two hours of my life.

I’m depressed. I wish I could just pay to watch commercials all day.

Al Bert (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: commercial pirate, ell oh ell

I don’t even buy commercials any more. I’m not going to pay that much for a blu-ray if it only has 15 minutes of commercial previews on it and you can’t even play them in a different order or put your favorite one on repeat. Being unable to stare vacantly into a loop of the trailer for ‘Arthur’, i turned to the internet and piracy. If the studios won’t let me watch commercials when and how i want, i’ll just go somewhere else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Three years ago a notice was published in the Federal Register re the TPP and requesting comments, pro and con, from EVERY member of the public. It is hard to reconcile the continuing mantra “We have no opportunity for input” when at the very start a request for input was published.

Now, it seems that so many are focused on “secrecy” associated with its negotiation. This is not at all unusual while substantive discussions are taking place. Lest this be misunderstood, there is the saying “Too many cooks spoil the broth”. I believe it applies here. Once negotiations are substantially complete, a draft will certainly be published for public comment before the agreement is signed.

I do agree that what appears to be preferred access is a legitimate complaint. What I have to ask, though, is if there is anything preventing other groups from likewise meeting with the TPP negotiatiors? Frankly, I do not know the answer. I hope the answer is yes. I understand that a public presentation intended to solicit public input is to be held at the Australia Round of negotiations in March. Hopefully, those who feel left out of the process will attend and present their views and concerns.

A final point. It is not reported if this is an executive agreement, or one authorized under authority conferred by Congress. I understand that Congress has held hearings concerning the negotiations, which suggests to me that this is not an executive agreement. Importantly, congressional participation does not mean that the resulting document will be a treaty, and courts have upheld agreements in which Congress participated under conditions other than its treaty powers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So because they “asked for opinion” 3 years ago they then get to spend 3 years secretly negotiating the deal with one very interested commercial party? Sounds fair. Oh no the public can give input, in Australia…

MISTER PROSSER:
The plans were on display.

ARTHUR DENT:
Ah! And how many members of the public are in the habit of casually dropping around the local planning office of an evening?

MISTER PROSSER:
Er – ah!

ARTHUR DENT:
It?s not exactly a noted social venue is it? And even if you had popped in on the off chance that some raving bureaucrat wanted to knock your house down, the plans weren?t immediately obvious to the eye were they?

MISTER PROSSER:
That depends where you were looking.

ARTHUR DENT:
I eventually had to go down to the cellar!

MISTER PROSSER:
That?s the display department.

ARTHUR DENT:
With a torch!

MISTER PROSSER:
The lights, had? probably gone.

ARTHUR DENT:
So had the stairs!

MISTER PROSSER:
Well you found the notice didn?t you?

ARTHUR DENT:
Yes. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ?Beware of the Leopard?. Ever thought of going into advertising?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Three years ago a notice was published in the Federal Register re the TPP and requesting comments, pro and con, from EVERY member of the public. It is hard to reconcile the continuing mantra “We have no opportunity for input” when at the very start a request for input was published.

Seriously? A request from 3 years ago for comment in the Federal Register makes this an open process? You’re joking, right?

Let’s compare: has Hollywood been intimately involved in every facet of the negotiation? Yes. Has public interest groups? No. Oh look, you’re full of it, again.

Now, it seems that so many are focused on “secrecy” associated with its negotiation. This is not at all unusual while substantive discussions are taking place.

As we’ve highlighted in the past, YES, it is unusual for these kinds of negotiations. Similar deals done via WIPO were MUCH more open. It’s only when they got out of WIPO that USTR started keeping everything secret.

Lest this be misunderstood, there is the saying “Too many cooks spoil the broth”. I believe it applies here.

Yeah, but when the only cooks you have are the ones who stand to benefit from anti-public, pro-industry laws… that soup is going to get mighty spicy.

Once negotiations are substantially complete, a draft will certainly be published for public comment before the agreement is signed.

Yeah, like ACTA: “hey, it’s done, we won’t make any changes, but comment away.”

How do you not even crack up laughing at your own bullshit?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Wow” what? Mentioning that TPP is likely a FTA in which Congress votes whether or not it enters into force? Mentioning that there does not appear to be any TPP negotiations among the parties going on in the US? Suggesting that perhaps this site might want to get on a bandwagon to stir things up with yet more FUD, as it has done with all legislation associated with patent and copyright law? Something else?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

The same can be said of you…

Merely FYI, I am an attorney (before that a commissioned officer in the USN flying ASW aircraft out of Moffett Field, Mountain View, CA) who has practiced copyright law domestically and internationally since 1979. I am not a law professor since I prefer to work with the law in lieu of counting theory-fairies on the head of a pin. I research matters such as this so that my participation within the ABA is more fully informed and timely, and also because keeping abreast of what is happening within the law is in my view quite important.

Importantly, I well recognize the pros and cons of copyright law as it is now implemented. I do not offer my personal opinions here since experience has taught me that they are best left for discussion within professional organizations such as the ABA, the AIPLA, and others of similar persuasion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“I am not at all sure what you are talking about when you say that TPP negotiations are taking place in “Hollywood”.”

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120126/03162017547/public-interest-groups-speak-out-about-next-weeks-secret-meeting-hollywood-to-negotiate-tpp-think-international-sopa.shtml

Apparently (Hollywood) corporate entities are secretly meeting with the USTR to discuss the matter.

Grae (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Three years ago a notice was published in the Federal Register re the TPP and requesting comments, pro and con, from EVERY member of the public. It is hard to reconcile the continuing mantra “We have no opportunity for input” when at the very start a request for input was published.

I found the document you’re talking about, although it would have been helpful if you had simply linked it yourself in the first place.

Honestly this document is so bland and so lacking in detail that to claim there is sufficient information for the public to comment on is flimsy at best. The most info it provides are the topics that may be covered; the best anyone who is not privileged enough to actually have a seat at the table can do is make guesses about the details that will be discussed and try to comment on that, which is a farce of public involvement.

“Now, it seems that so many are focused on “secrecy” associated with its negotiation. This is not at all unusual while substantive discussions are taking place. Lest this be misunderstood, there is the saying “Too many cooks spoil the broth”. I believe it applies here. Once negotiations are substantially complete, a draft will certainly be published for public comment before the agreement is signed.”

By invoking the tiresome phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth” you seem to be saying that less input is better, because more input would make for a poorer outcome without actually providing supporting evidence for why greater input on international trade agreements/treaties would result in a worse outcome than lesser input. I could just as easily invoke the antonym phrase “many hands make for lighter work” as the justification for claiming that secrecy is unnecessary. It’s nonsense. What I will say is that due to the vast number of citizens across signing nations affected by such agreements, it makes sense that the number of participants from public interest groups should at least equal if not outnumber the private corporations involved. Also if the sum of affected entities (corporations, the public) cannot come to an agreement, did it occur to anyone that perhaps the best course of action would be to not enter into an international treaty at this time?

Also publishing a public draft of treaty after the negotiations are complete is also useless. The best outcome from that scenario is another grassroots uprising like we saw with SOPA & PIPA that pressures the government to back down at the last second. The stakes are really too high for the public to be content with being allowed to comment after all the real work has been done.

I do agree that what appears to be preferred access is a legitimate complaint. What I have to ask, though, is if there is anything preventing other groups from likewise meeting with the TPP negotiatiors? Frankly, I do not know the answer. I hope the answer is yes. I understand that a public presentation intended to solicit public input is to be held at the Australia Round of negotiations in March. Hopefully, those who feel left out of the process will attend and present their views and concerns.

What exactly is the use in meeting with TPP negotiators if the negotiations themselves are secret? Any negotiator who wanted to keep their seat at the table would be mad to disclose any pertinent, useful information. Also including the public at one time in Australia? If they’re going to allow it once, why not have public inclusion at every negotiation? It makes it pretty clear that any such “inclusion” is probably another farce so everyone can pat themselves on the back and say they got “public” input.

A final point. It is not reported if this is an executive agreement, or one authorized under authority conferred by Congress. I understand that Congress has held hearings concerning the negotiations, which suggests to me that this is not an executive agreement. Importantly, congressional participation does not mean that the resulting document will be a treaty, and courts have upheld agreements in which Congress participated under conditions other than its treaty powers.

Hopefully the executive branch doesn’t try and whip out this “executive agreement” nonsense again; as the TPP clearly covers IP laws & issues and therefore falls under the authority of congress, no matter how much the president, the corporations, and their shills wish it were otherwise.

Al Bert (profile) says:

Re: Re: sociopolitical thermodynamics

The state just needs to keep up with implementing the further destruction of 4th and 5th amendment rights and install fear — i mean respect into the general public to some greater degree.

If they increase the pressure, they can afford to hold a population at higher temperatures without risking boiling.

Adam V says:

Where’s the White House petition to prevent Trade Representatives from attending secret meetings where corporate attendees are allowed but groups like the EFF or Public Knowledge were being specifically banned?

I would understand if the agreements were completely within countries, and no outside groups were allowed in (or even to advise)… but to allow the MPAA to take part while excluding others is wrong, and it would be a strong statement about the policies of this government to state that they’d no longer allow the office of the USTR to take part in such actions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hotel review sites

If you want to boycott this hotel, why not also use hotel review sites (which I’m not sure we’ve gotten the name of yet) post a low review on said hotel with the reason why. Unless they filter the comments you could bring the ranking of the hotel down, inform people of the boycott, and get the hotel’s attention so they lose credibility and they and others never try this crap again.

Just a suggestion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hotel review sites

we need a slogan that both informs the reviewee that this is a protest, and gives an idea of what the proteest is about or enough to google

“If you like hotels that cater only for the rich and powerful………”no wait, that’ll probably ATRACT a certain clientele

“Dont use this hotel if you care about the ordinary people’s right” …….mmmmmm, a touch too generic, true, but generic

“Fuck you, hotel ” as much as i like, its exactly the kind of fuel for your opposition and unlikely to get more support

“Support our cause, if you support your jobs, your babies and are a true patriot” whooah, sorry guys, had a slight case of the corruption there…… im better now

damn, i cant think of one

Anonymous Coward says:

Ashamed to be an American.

I am ashamed to be a part of such an openly corrupt and maladaptive government. I will do everything in my power to spread awareness about this unacceptable behavior. Message boards, IRC channels, twitter, facebook, web blogs, posters, phone calls, emails, and letters. I will actively oppose any politicians who support ttp or any similar agreements. We may not have the power to stop the agreement, but we *do* have the power to remove every single government official who supports such an offensive agreement. The time may be soon to exercise this right of ours.

And if these agreements pass, I will join my peers in happily bypassing enforcement. I refuse to comply with these draconian law making policies, even if it means taking it to the darknets. These government officials do not represent me nor my interests. We have to make it clear that people run this country, not hollywood, and this behavior will not stand.

Anonymous Coward says:

"Secret Meeting"

Re: the “secrecy” thing. The issue isn’t that the negotiations are a secret or that the public has no ability to send their elected officials letters and such. The issue is that the U.S. negotiating proposals and the negotiating texts are being kept secret. Most other international negotiations, even those at the World Trade Organization, happen with much more transparency, with negotiating texts published online so that the public can comment on them in an ongoing manner.

The fact is, once the three-plus years of negotiations are over and final texts are released for Congressional approval, it becomes extremely difficult to go back and make substantive changes. The only reason the IP issue is getting so much attention now is that chapter (one among 21 chapters) was leaked. What’s being negotiated on banking regulations, on public procurement, on investor rights, on privatization of public services, on agriculture, on consumer safety? We can only guess. And we shouldn’t have to guess. In a democracy, we should be told.

That’s why “international civil society,” which has known about the Trans-Pacific FTA for years, has been calling for over a year now for negotiators to release the texts.

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