SOPA Supporters Urge White House To Use Secretive TPP Process To Insert Draconian New IP Laws

from the sopa-reunion dept

We’ve been warning for a while about the TPP negotiations, and how the big interests who pushed SOPA were making a concerted effort to use the (very questionable and extremely secretive) nature of international trade negotiations to sneak through many of the things they wanted in SOPA, without any scrutiny. Make no mistake: while the public has no access to, or information about, what the federal government is negotiating, the big special interests are well informed. As pressure has been mounting against TPP, it appears that the US Chamber of Commerce has “brought the band back together,” putting outa letter to the Obama administration explaining why draconian IP rules must be included in the TPP. The letter is signed by a who’s who of SOPA supporters, including (of course) the Chamber of Commerce, the MPAA, the RIAA, A2IM, PhRMA, AAP, BSA, ESA and more. Basically, it’s a bunch of also ran industry trade groups whining to the feds that they can’t innovate anymore and they need economically damaging mercantilist-style protectionism.

For the TPP to achieve that vision, it is essential that the final TPP agreement incorporate comprehensive and high-standards for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights – including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. And that outcome can only be achieved through continued and heightened U.S. leadership. By contrast, any attempts to weaken IP rights or to exclude any sector from protection must be strongly rejected and would be inconsistent with overall U.S. Government policy and U.S. economic and trade interests.

Almost nothing in that paragraph is accurate (or honest). The TPP can be a perfectly good trade agreement without touching on IP issues. It’s just that, in the past few years, industry lobbyists have realized that sneaking IP law expansion through international obligations is a good way (they thought) to keep them under the radar, and to get ridiculous rules pushed through without having to go through the standard legislative efforts. In fact, deals like these often require changes to the laws after-the-fact, which is exactly what the industry wants. Because then, rather than arguing for a law because they know it will hurt innovative upstarts, they can just stand around pouty-faced, talking about how we have to “respect our international obligations.”

Furthermore, there is tremendous evidence at this point that IP laws are way too broad and too draconian, and that’s causing significant hindrance to innovation. Claiming that no weakening of IP laws can be allowed is a ridiculous and unsupportable maximalist agenda, designed not to help the US, but to lock in entrenched players at the expense of disruptive innovators.

We commend your Administration for recognizing the key role played by innovative and creative industries in driving economic growth, jobs and competitiveness. As recently highlighted in the March 2012 U.S. government report – Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus – U.S. IP intensive industries support more than one in every four jobs, over one-third of GDP, and approximately 60 percent of exports. The protection and effective enforcement of IP rights are therefore of critical importance to the economic growth and prosperity not only of the United States but also of its eight TPP-negotiating partners.

This is a load of hogwash. The “report” used the US Chamber of Commerce’s own totally discredited methodology to inflate numbers to ridiculous levels. Furthermore, the US CoC’s interpretation that this report shows that enforcement is “critical” is, once again, complete hogwash. It assumes — without any proof whatsoever — that these IP intensive industries exist because of strong IP laws.

What the letter conveniently ignores is that some of the largest players — and the fastest growing ones — included in the list of “IP intensive” industries were the tech companies who fought against SOPA and who have complained about enforcement and protection levels being way, way too high. To use those industry’s own growth as proof of the need for greater enforcement isn’t just disingenuous, it’s downright obnoxious.

As you and your Administration have repeatedly recognized, strong IP protections have been an essential element in fostering the explosive growth in new and more efficient technologies, increased productivity, life-saving medicines and other health technologies, as well as a wide variety of creative and educational works. As a result, high-standard IP protections are a key driver of economic growth in the United States and overseas and are linked to the creation and retention of jobs in industries as diverse as consumer and industrial products, educational products and entertainment, scientific products and equipment and information and communications technology.

Ah, flattery. And yet, there is no evidence to support the statement above. In fact, research has shown that IP laws do not, in fact, lead to explosive growth in technologies. Rather, the laws tend to lag growth — showing that massive growth often happens in the absence of such laws or with weaker laws. The laws are then put in place to protect the leaders against new upstarts. This is exactly what the signatories of the letter are trying to do.

While the benefits of strong IP protections and enforcement are widely supported throughout the United States and safeguarded in our Constitution and laws, such protections are at serious risk in the ongoing TPP negotiations. Some seek to enshrine low standards of protection, with limited enforcement, in the final TPP agreement, arguing that U.S. proposals would be harmful and could undermine other interests.

Actually, some seek to push back on the ridiculous excesses of those who signed this letter, in order to look out for what actually benefits the public the most. Shocker, I know, but these laws are supposed to (we’re told) benefit the public. Of course, the letter attacks such claims as well:

The strong IP protections proposed by the U.S. government in the TPP negotiations do not represent, as some suggest, a threat to public health, the development and expansion of the Internet or rights of freedom of speech, but rather a much-needed response to increasingly sophisticated threats to IP protection throughout the world. More, not less, rigorous IP rules are needed to thwart the explosion in IP infringement, including of pirated, counterfeit and unlawful copycat products throughout all sectors of the economy, and trade-secret theft.

Notice how these groups don’t even hide the fact that they know what IP protections are being proposed by the US government in the TPP negotiations. That’s because they’re heavily involved in the process. You know who’s not? The public. When special interests — especially ones with a history of trampling all over the public interest — get to help write the laws and the rules, while the public is kept in the dark, it’s a pretty safe bet to expect that the public will get trampled again. Sorry, special interests, but saying you won’t trample the public interest, while not letting the public into the debate, isn’t that convincing.

Furthermore, we’re already seeing such laws harm public health, hurt internet development, and be used to attack free speech. We can provide tons of examples. So claiming that it won’t do more of that is a laughably ridiculous assertion.

What’s also true is that never has expanding IP laws and enforcement been successful in “thwarting” infringement. It may work briefly, but within months, people find other ways to infringe. The only thing that works is encouraging real innovation in the field — enabling startups to enter the market and do cool new things. Let them compete with “piracy” and innovative companies can and do succeed (though the industry then wants to shut them down or squeeze more money out of them). Yet the TPP isn’t about enabling disruptive innovators. It’s about giving slow, lumbering legacy companies who don’t want to adapt the ability to kill innovation.

In their essence, the arguments against strong IP protections are largely based on the misguided assumption that strong IP protections advance only the interests of IP exporting countries and disadvantage countries with less well developed IP-dependent industries. In fact, the adoption of strong IP protections by all countries in the TPP and more widely promotes strong benefits for all, whether or not the country has developed its own major IP-based industries

Citation needed. Seriously. Because tons upon tons of studies have shown exactly the opposite.

Developed and developing countries that have adopted stronger IP protections have proven better able to develop their own technological, science, creative and other innovative and IP-dependent industries, advancing their own economic growth, productivity, exports, innovation and the interests of their workers and consumers alike.

This is lying by use of correlation, rather than causation. The real relationship is the opposite of what they’re saying. The innovation almost always precedes the increase in IP protections, which then grant the leaders the ability to stifle upstarts and innovation they don’t control. While it’s true that developed nations have stronger IP laws, that’s more about crony capitalism happening after the fact, rather than stricter laws being the cause of the innovation and growth.

The letter, in typical fashion, is a complete joke. The claims don’t stand up to any sort of scrutiny. The authors must know this, but in a political world, they can get away with being extremely disingenuous.

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Comments on “SOPA Supporters Urge White House To Use Secretive TPP Process To Insert Draconian New IP Laws”

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62 Comments
Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Why?

Ok I just have to ask. Why is it that we hear so much from these trade groups and so little from the people that they “represent”?

Usually when you are at a protest for/against something and there is a leader speaking about the problem, you will find a bunch of followers cheering and offering support. So where are the musicians and actors (the actual content creators) in all of this? Why haven’t they voiced their unwavering support? Where are the software developers and authors?

Why do we keep hearing from the gatekeepers, the people who stand to lose the most? I guess that answered itself.

gorehound (profile) says:

Here we go again just like I knew we would.Over and Over we go downwards to the End of this Nation.Just wait one to three Elections of time and see what happens.It is all going downhill.
Washington DC You Are A Cancer !
Boycott MAFIAA Products
Buy & Support Only INDIE !
Boycott any Supporters of TPP & Other Bills to take away Freedom & Impose US Law on the Whole Earth.

Anonymous Coward says:

and so it goes on. whoever the arse hole is that started all this needs putting up against a wall and shooting! those that are following along like good little sheep should be ashamed of themselves and receive the same treatment as the instigator. how anyone can believe this absolute bollocks is beyond me! how they can put their own selfish interests before their own country is equally beyond me, but to then inflict those ‘required rules’, through threats and trade sanctions, on to other countries is unforgivable! strange how no one actually has the balls to stand up and say ‘this whole thing about forcing USA laws, copyrights, patents and generally what we want to do on to the rest of the world, without worrying about it, is my idea!! gutless fucker(s) will get found out one day and then crap will hit fan!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

So, the COC (Chamber of Commerce) wants Obama to put SOPA in the TPP.

But at the same time, the COC and big corporations and their rich CEOs they represent have already vowed to spend over three hundred million dollars together in Super PACs to defeat Obama in 2012.

So… Obama should listen to these people who have vowed to get him voted out of office in 6 months why exactly?

And no, the COC and their people won’t change their support on this one issue, they have a few dozen other issues they care about more then SOPA.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Why?

Ok I just have to ask. Why is it that we hear so much from these trade groups and so little from the people that they “represent”?

The trade groups don’t represent the artists, they represent the labels/studios.

The trade groups also exist to deflect outcry against unpopular ideas away from the labels. Even on Techdirt, I would bet that half of the average commenters who use the term “MAFIAA” would have trouble naming the big labels and studios. Just like in political campaigns, SuperPACs are able to get away with running the most negative and inaccurate ads without causing the candidate they are aligned with much backlash.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re:

What’s so unbelievably funny about all of this IP drivel is that it wasn’t until the 1960s that the United States recognized foreign copyrights. (Note to trolls: Don’t give me the everyone else was doing it too because they weren’t.)

Directly or indirectly when the Industrial Revolution got going American companies happily ignored foreign and even domestic patents until they started to assemble some of their own. THEN they became true believers.

(I can see it now, the US COC under a tent holding an foursquare IP revival meeting in Hollywood and on Wall Street using the same technique so successfully used by folks like Billy Sunday.

At least Sunday believed what he was preaching where I can see the US Chamber of Comics nodding and winking to the “IP Insiders” in the front set of pews while preaching what they know is utter bull manure to the great unwashed in the back pews which includes most congress critters.)

The mere fact that there appears to be growing resistance to TPP around the Pacific Rim and the American concept of IP indicates that the commercially based American empire may be well beyond its best before date. That’s also illustrated by the illusion that you can negotiate any kind of Pacific Rim trade deal without China at the table these days is too funny by half.

Then there’s ACTA wobbling its way slowly towards oblivion. If the EU and its members back out then that’s finished and gone, thank God.

Anonymous Coward says:

Make no mistake: while the public has no access to, or information about, what the federal government is negotiating, the big special interests are well informed.

So if this is true Chubby then how do you know they are trying… to sneak through many of the things they wanted in SOPA

What things? DNS blocking, search engine delisting, forcing ad networks and payment processors to cease business relationships? What?

DannyB (profile) says:

Why pass laws in secret?

Why do SOPA supporters want to pass laws in secret?

Aren’t laws and the legislative process supposed to work in full open view of the public? In the light of day? Right out there in front of God and everyone?

It’s like cockroaches scurrying for a new place to hide every time the bright light is shined on PROTECT-IP, SOPA, ACTA, TPP, etc.

If these are such good laws, like making school busses stop at rail road tracks to look both ways, then why the secrecy? It’s not like this is national security. Or about terrorism (unless it’s the terror of dinosaurs becoming irrelevant).

The fact that they want laws passed in closed door smoke filled back rooms, or sneaked into larger bills in the wee night hours as amendments, speaks volumes about the true nature and anti-American intent of these people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“and so it goes on. whoever the arse hole is that started all this needs putting up against a wall and shooting! those that are following along like good little sheep should be ashamed of themselves and receive the same treatment as the instigator. how anyone can believe this absolute bollocks is beyond me! how they can put their own selfish interests before their own country is equally beyond me, but to then inflict those ‘required rules’, through threats and trade sanctions, on to other countries is unforgivable! strange how no one actually has the balls to stand up and say ‘this whole thing about forcing USA laws, copyrights, patents and generally what we want to do on to the rest of the world, without worrying about it, is my idea!! gutless fucker(s) will get found out one day and then crap will hit fan!!!”

Its likely some old fart with to much money and influence then morals or sense

Look for the guy, whos constantly talking about his laser beam sharks, or failing that, look for the midget biting ball sacs, his master wont be far behind…….i think this goes without saying, but just incase, at all costs, avoid the biting ballsac midget

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Not sure how you can call Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States the “world”.

Glad to read you understand that SOPA was US-specific. Perhaps if more had taken the time to read the actual document in its latest incarnation they would have realized that most of the anti-SOPA rhetoric was grossly inaccurate, misleading, and at times outright false.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Not sure how you can call Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States the “world”.

Glad to read you understand that SOPA was US-specific. Perhaps if more had taken the time to read the actual document in its latest incarnation they would have realized that most of the anti-SOPA rhetoric was grossly inaccurate, misleading, and at times outright false.”

So how much do spin doctors get paid these days?

Anonymous Coward says:

“Do you not see the irony in claiming that the public has no information about what is being proposed at the TPP negotiations and that they are “trying to sneak through many of the things they wanted in SOPA”. So which is it? It can’t be both unless you live in Masnick’s delusional world.”

Irony, i do not think it means what you think it means

And, in what world do YOU live in, makes what you just said make any kind of sense?

Ramble start

The dealio
Using one bill, which is widely known by now to lack any kind of tranparency to those who will be mostly affected by it, in order to pass another bill or a very similar bill, which they have already failed to pass due to mass public opposition??????????Where, do you see irony???????

I dont know why you chumps keep trying, to be honest, you obviously do not understand or care for the nature of our concerns.
At the end of the day everything you say will be remembered, your views, your statements, your concerns, your manerisms, everything you bring up,

As much as you think you know our characters, how much do you think your giving away with your comments……do you not realise that youre becoming THAT guy, with the same recycled opinions…….your the equivalent of what you like to call us as freetards

Let me ask you, will you be swayed by a freetard, and yes, equivalently and unequivicably, that is what you are to us, equivalently

you dont fight for the public, therefore you must fight for the corporations, therefore everything you say, will give me the impression your representing the interests of a company, and therefore anything you say will automatically be thought of as biased to that end,
and yes that goes for both sides……..which breaks it down to these question, for both sides

Who or what exactly are you fighting for?
What cause, do you believe in so much, that you’d be willing to argue with bias, because the end justifies the needs?

Which cause will benefit the people?

Im not expecting answers, kinda went a little philosophical at the end there, please ignore my ramblings

Ramble stop

Anonymous Coward says:

The authors must know this, but in a political world, they can get away with being extremely disingenuous

Only in a world where information can be controlled and limited. When information can be dispersed worldwide in a matter of seconds or minutes, instead of taking perhaps months, years, or even decades to trickle out those who rely on that secrecy to maintain control have a serious disadvantage to overcome. This is why they will use whatever tactics they can to try to limit the internet any way they can.

Michael says:

Who cares what phony baloney bill they come up with? Any ‘law’ written up by the copyright maximalists (in secret, no less) does not deserve to be recognized as true law, much less practiced as such.

With the termination rights fast approaching, the industry’s money-grubbing, anti-free market, control freak agenda will become a public spectacle, contradicting their supposedly “pro-artist” PR nonsense.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Funny how many of the people with this ideological bent want to have international agreements negotiated with no transparency whatsoever overlap quite a bit with those who continually decry the US “bowing” to laws and agreements not made entirely within and for the US. That is, the same people who, e.g., rail against the “evils” of the UN, the Geneva Convention, etc., fully support international corporations creating US law and international agreements which are binding on the US.

RichardM Stallman (user link) says:

Those companies used the vague term “IP” in their letter, and the
article follows the letter in using that term. As a result, the
article doesn’t say which law or laws this is about. I suppose that
the RIAA and MPAA want stricter copyright laws, and that some others
want stricter trademark laws, but that is only a guess.

Since copyright law and trademark law are totally unrelated, it is
a mistake to lump those two issues together. The companies do so
to distract people from both specific issues. If we follow them
in using that term, we too confuse the issues; that plays into
their hands.

See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/not-ipr.html for more explanation.

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