US And Europe Move On To TAFTA: Yet Another Chance To Push Through ACTA/SOPA Style IP Maximalism

from the it-never-ends dept

ACTA and SOPA may have flopped, but minor setbacks like that won’t stop the onslaught of abuses from the entertainment and pharmaceutical industries looking to use the international treaty process to try to pressure everyone to keep ratcheting up protectionist laws concerning copyright, patents and trademarks. Obviously, we’ve been talking about the still worrisome TPP agreement involving a bunch of Pacific Rim countries, but it’s not stopping there. Back in October, we warned that the US and EU were preparing a new trade agreement as well, and the preliminary plans noted that it would include a “high level of intellectual property protection, including enforcement.”

More details are starting to come out as the main EU negotiator for ACTA, Karel de Gucht, came to DC to see about getting things kicked off, on an agreement that’s being called TAFTA — the Trans Atlantic “Free Trade” Agreement. Of course, instead of recognizing the lessons from previous failed efforts to push for broken maximalist policies, it appears that the plan is to try, try again. Some are already saying that this is “the opportunity to try to set the gold standard” in copyright, patent and trademark protection. The goal, as with ACTA and TPP is to ratchet up the laws, and then put tons of pressure on China and India to “respect” those laws. To put it mildly: this is stupid. Both of those countries recognize how protectionism works. We’ve already seen that China is becoming exceptionally good at using patent laws to basically punish foreign companies, while helping domestic Chinese companies. It seems downright idiotic to provide them with even more tools to do so.

Of course, the real questions are why do we keep letting our governments negotiate these kinds of deals, and why do we let them do so in secret?

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Comments on “US And Europe Move On To TAFTA: Yet Another Chance To Push Through ACTA/SOPA Style IP Maximalism”

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63 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

I’m starting to see a pattern here. The US executive is trying to enact domestic laws by pushing them via trade agreements…

Executive pushes for international agreements then comes back to the Congress/Senate and say “See? We are bound by those agreements, we must adjust our domestic laws to fit them as every other nation will do it”. Never thought of it this way. Scary.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Wrong on both counts? How so? First, in what sense do existing laws not apply to the internet?

Second, there is a great deal of respected historical research on this topic, and it’s pretty well established that with the exception of a literally one or two places, the “lawless wild west” in the sense most people think of it (thanks to TV and movies) never actually existed. By all measures (crime rates, etc.), the “wild west” was about as lawless as the modern west is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Shh. Leave the troll alone. Facts that don’t support his reality are unwelcome.

But yes, it is true. The internet never has been a lawless “Wild West” and the Wild West itself wasn’t a “lawless” place.

Part of the reason, and I’ve researched this before, is that the Wild West era took place immediately after the Civil War. So what you had were vast numbers of people who had seen the most vicious war fought within this country ever, all of whom survived and quite readily knew how to take care of themselves and survive. Meaning, even if law enforcement couldn’t solve a case or catch a criminal, you can be damn sure the average joe could, and as such crime became much riskier due to the fact that the person you were committing a crime against literally was in no mood for your bullshit and wasn’t going to stand idly by and let you get away with it. In point of fact, if anything, the Wild West was actually a much more civilized time for this very reason. People respected the rule of law, and with the exception of a handful of individuals and towns, the majority of the Wild West was actually a decent place to live, with people helping one another as they could and prospects in general looking good (at least when put in perspective of “Holy shit! We just fought a war amongst ourselves!).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

He, let’s just for a minute pretend the wild west was exactly like it was in the movies though. How is rampant copyright infringement anything at all like gunfights at the ok coral? I mean these stories are about murder in the fucking streets and he’s comparing rampant copyright infringement to that? It’s fucking bonkers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’m starting to see a pattern here. The US executive is trying to enact domestic laws by pushing them via trade agreements…

Executive pushes for international agreements then comes back to the Congress/Senate and say “See? We are bound by those agreements, we must adjust our domestic laws to fit them as every other nation will do it”. Never thought of it this way. Scary.”

Took you that long to figure it out? That’s how we got the DCMA.

International trade agreements are a wonderful way for industries to protect their pet laws from dreadful diseases like that nasty vox populi that killed SOPA.

Kevin H (profile) says:

This crap is like playing a never ending game of whack-a-mole. We do what we can to get one squashed and then suddenly some NEW piece of legislation is introduced that just roles the what we just defeated into a new box with a pretty little bow on top.

My pitchfork is in need of servicing and my torch is beginning to burn out. I cannot even fathom a guess at the number of calls and letters I have written on various pieces of legislation.

Not to mention I am fairly certain that its all part of their plan to wear us down to this point until we simply quit fighting.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This is what I’ve been saying for years now. This will continue, just like a game of whack-a-mole, until we stop playing whack-a-mole. And there are two ways to stop playing. We can give up and quit fighting, or we can push back and accomplish something meaningful. What we need to do is find a way to get our own copyright legislation sponsored and placed before Congress.

To change analogies a little, when a weed grows in your garden, cutting off the visible part does no good. Unless you pull it up by the root, it will grow back, again and again. And the root of this neverending parade of copyright abuse proposals is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Everything that’s evil and offensive in SOPA and ACTA and the TPP already exists in the DMCA, just at a smaller scale. And until we pull up the root and kill it, the weeds will keep growing back.

If we’re going to accomplish anything meaningful, the first thing to be done is to repeal and reverse the DMCA. No more DMCA takedowns on accusation alone with no evidence and no due process. No more legal protection for hacking other people’s computers and calling it DRM. And no more foundation upon which to build greater abuses in the future.

Jonathan says:

Re: Re:

I think I agree with your idea of the end-game. It’s telling that NGOs are merely content with resisting these infringements rather than pushing back, hard. There’s very little citizen force behind gaining ground against power consolidation, and much elite pushback when any event that might have such an effect comes about.

I still believe that the general strike is among the few effective weapons. It’s very well understood and it works well enough that it’s met with paramilitary force every time it’s tried.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What, that’s it? Ad hominem attacks, petty namecalling? Where’s the elaborate deconstruction, the disillusioning rebuttal?
I want my viewpoint to be challenged, not reinforced! If you’re going to take the time to go to this site, skim headlines, and post disparaging remarks, put some freakin’ effort into it!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It is called neomercantilism. China and east asia are known for a policy based around these principles. To combat it, the conservative parties in the western countries (US democrats included!) have made their own strain of neo-mercantilism where the traded goods are IPR and the tarriffs are licenses. Conservatives call it free trade, but in reality it is corporate mercantilism.

Anonymous Coward says:

“The goal, as with ACTA and TPP is to ratchet up the laws, and then put tons of pressure on China and India to “respect” those laws.”

This, quite simply, won’t work.

China already manufactures the vast majority of electronic devices for the entire world. How are you going to pressure the guy that builds your everything? Ah, maybe you’ll use your mighty industrial infrastructure. Oh wait, your mighty industrial infrastructure was exported to China too. Because the labour is cheaper and the laws are laxer.

Face it, China has the world by the balls, and a toothless piece of paper won’t change anything until people actually start moving away from them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Exactly. As stated, not only would it not work against China, they’d actually be able to use it against the US.

I suppose you could say the real goal is to ratchet up their own laws, but US law enforcement hardly needs legal justification to act.

Perhaps the people who wrote ACTA/TPP/etc. are chuffed that the public rose up against them, and are determined to prove they aren’t beholden to the proletariat? There’s doubtless some irrational reason behind their irrational behavior…

Jonathan says:

Re: Re:

Ownership is a cultural/social postulate. Economics is merely a mathematical attempt at elaboration of cultural/social first principles.

I think it’s fairly unlikely that China would subscribe to strong scarce-IP culture, unless there were something else the rest of the world might have to offer China, that China doesn’t already have, on China’s own terms. Something on the order of the Louisiana Purchase.

But, the bottom line raison d’etre of modern economics, protecting the purchasing power of incumbent creditors as informed by the “3% annual growth, forever” evangelists, would be met even if only the smaller but important economies (Australia, Japan, Korea, Egypt, Norway) joined up in strong scarce-IP culture.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Everybody's got one.

The difference is that the “content industry”‘s whack-a-mole is unnecessary. The piracy problems they have can be easily dealt with without causing widespread societal damage.

The internet’s whack-a-mole is trying to prevent the widespread societal damage being caused by the “content industry”‘s whack-a-mole game.

In other words, the “content industry” is engaging in a completely optional and self-proclaimed war. The internet is trying to prevent it (and everyone else) from being collateral damage in that madness.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: Re: Everybody's got one.

Except that when you take a step back and look at things from Hollywood et al’s perspective, this whack-a-mole is completely necessary because it threatens their business model by causing a change of social norms. However, in the bigger picture, their stance is counterproductive and outdated when compared to the 21st century business models that are popping up and proving successful.

And yeah, the Internet’s war is a war of self-defense (more or less).

Doug Webb (user link) says:

TAFTA

Why do our governments keep doing this? Because the entertainment industry is spending hundreds of millions of dollars and euros on campaign contributions to all political parties. Even opposition parties tow the entertainment industry line. Corporate campaign donations are an arrow in the heart of democracy. If you can’t vote, why can you donate to a politician and potentially change the political landscape?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

The point is actually moot anyway. By the time these treaties are enacted, we will have the ability to 3D print any chemical imaginable, from a small stock of raw materials. Doing away with any chance any resulting pharma laws have any chance of succeeding.

Data sticks in 10-12 years will be in the quad (q-byte) range, making the distribution of all music and video from the past a simple thing. Bit torrent is implementing a distributed private network system that you need to be invited into. Add encryption on top of that and you have private interlinked darknets galore. All this leads to the obvious conclusion that any RIAA or MPAA based laws will be ineffectual and impossible to enforce.

All in all, it doesn’t matter if they get one, or even all of these treaties enacted. Advances in technology will cause them to fail horribly.

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