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.

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Comments on “Colombia Rushes Through Its Own SOPA In An 'Emergency Procedure' To Appease US Ahead Of Obama Visit”

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19 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

What’s most ironic about all this bullying by the US government for draconian copyright law is that America is helping to undermine it’s position as the world’s #1 super power by doing so.

China’s GPD is fast approaching the size of the US, by 2016 China’s economy will be bigger then the US. And there’s a lot of uncertainty in these numbers, some economics believe China’s GDP is being underestimated and that China is already richer then the US.

I say this because China, with it’s lax enforcement of copyright and IP is the one that stand to benefit most from these draconian laws. In China college professors are encouraged financially not to write papers, but to file for patents/copyrights on anything. The reason? So China can use that IP as a weapon against other countries economies, and help China’s own economy grow even larger and even richer.

Difster (profile) says:

Unenforcable

If Columbia is anything like Mexico in terms of it’s corruption, and selective enforcement of laws, this law will have no teeth. It won’t be enforced except in a few cases of political expediency. The cops on the street aren’t going to stop people from openly selling pirated DVD’s and USB’s sticks full of music like they do now.

It sucks that this happened, but you can pretty much expect nothing to change.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Again and again...

…we see Barack Obama’s direct, personal involvement in copyright abuse. First pushing the “graduated response” programs, then illegally signing ACTA, and now this. If I see one more ridiculous email from DemandProgress asking me to sign a petition to the White House to oppose further copyright abuse, I swear I’m going to scream. Why do people not get that he is just as much a direct cause of the problem as Lamar Smith?

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