Colombia Rushes Through Its Own SOPA In An 'Emergency Procedure' To Appease US Ahead Of Obama Visit
from the not-cool dept
Last fall, we wrote about how the Obama administration celebrated the signing of what they incorrectly called “free trade agreements” with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. These agreements had been the subject of significant controversy, but they did eventually get signed. Of course, the Obama administration — via the USTR — has long been a proponent of putting in ridiculous protectionism policies into free trade agreements. To this day, we still can’t understand what copyright laws have to do with free trade. They’re the opposite of free trade: they’re government granted monopolies. We had warned about the excessive language in these agreements when it comes to copyright, and now we’re starting to see the impact of that.
President Obama is heading to Colombia this weekend for a summit, and we’d been hearing stories that US officials had been putting tremendous pressure on Colombian officials to pass new, ridiculously draconian copyright laws ahead of that visit. So that’s exactly what the Colombian government did — using an “emergency procedure” to rush through a bad bill that is quite extreme.
Earlier this year, Colombia tried to pass basically the same bill, which was called LesLleras, after Interior Minister German Vargas Lleras (who proposed it). That bill was so extreme that it resulted in SOPA-like protests, following significant concerns raised by the public as well as copyright and free speech experts. So, this time around, the government just claimed it was an emergency and rushed the bill through, despite all of its problems. They seemed to think that the public wouldn’t notice — but they’re wrong.
As is typical of idiotic trade agreements pushed via the USTR — who only seems to listen to Hollywood on these issues — the copyright bill includes all sorts of draconian enforcement techniques and expansions of existing copyright law, and removal of free speech rights. But what it does not include are any exceptions to copyright law — the very important tools that even the US Supreme Court admits are the “safety valves” that stop copyright law from being abusive, oppressive and contrary to freedom of speech. Public interest groups in Colombia are planning a Constitutional challenge to this new law, but the process itself is sickening.
To use an “emergency procedure” to pass a highly questionable law that was put in place through equally questionable means and diplomatic pressure — and to ignore the public at large — is really astounding. I’m ashamed of my own government for its efforts to pressure Colombia into such undemocratic and anti-free speech actions.