Now US And EU Want To Apply Upward Ratchet To TRIPS Itself

from the once-a-maximalist,-always-a-maximalist dept

Here on Techdirt we often talk about the copyright ratchet — the fact that for three hundred years changes to copyright have always been in one direction: longer, wider and stronger. But there’s a group of countries where the copyright ratchet isn’t in place yet. These are the so-called LDCs — the Least Developed Countries — where many of the world’s poorest citizens live. That’s because the main Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, better known as TRIPS, explicitly allows LDCs a transitional period of ten years, during which time they are not required to meet all the stringent requirements laid down there for granting intellectual monopolies. Moreover, the TRIPS agreement specifies:

The Council for TRIPS shall, upon duly motivated request by a least-developed country Member, accord extensions of this period.

And as an article on infojustice.org notes:

Last November the LDCs exercised their legal rights under the TRIPS rules, and submitted a request to the TRIPS Council requesting an unconditional extension of the transition period for as long as a country remains an LDC. The current transition period expires on 1 July 2013.

Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement grants LDCs a renewable exemption from TRIPS obligations. The rationale is that LDCs need maximum flexibility to develop a viable technological base and address their constraints, and that the standard of TRIPS IP protection may be an obstacle in achieving those objectives.

The US and EU routinely insist that countries follow TRIPS to the letter, but it seems they are only too happy to ignore their own obligations when it comes to granting a further exemption to LDCs:

Developed countries, particularly the United States and the European Union, have offered a poor and impractical deal of an incredibly short extension of 5 years with restrictive conditions to least developed countries that are entitled to be exempted from implementing the WTO TRIPS Agreement.

Particularly problematic is their demand that the LDCs agree to a “no-roll-back” clause, a TRIPS plus condition that will prevent LDCs from rolling back (i.e. providing a reduced degree of IP protection) their current laws, even if they adversely impact their development concerns.

“No roll-back” is another way of saying upward ratchet. But the US and EU are trying to haggle over details of an agreement that was finalized and signed back in 1994. As infojustice.org puts it:

The US and EU demand, if agreed to, would actually amount to an amendment to Article 66.1, but without following proper WTO procedures as required by Article X of the WTO Agreement

That is, the US and EU are not only trying to bully smaller countries into accepting unofficial changes to negotiated agreements, in this case to lock LDCs into a system with a built-in ratchet for intellectual monopolies, but they want the upward ratchet to operate on TRIPS itself.

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Comments on “Now US And EU Want To Apply Upward Ratchet To TRIPS Itself”

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13 Comments
gorehound (profile) says:

Re: Like I said before...

Me Too ! I so hate our corrupt Government and I so hate Copyright Laws as well as Patent Trolls.

More Nations need to just give our US Government the two fingered Salute.China will be glad to take them under their wing instead.
I for one am in such a big hate mode over patents,copyrights, and a corrupt system I guess I will State what I stated.
Obviously the way the system is here it will only eventually result in us owning very little at all and the rich fraks owning the majority of all things.

Anonymous Coward says:

and exactly who has started this bull shit? i bet it dont take a genius to work that out! and who is involved in the EU that will want this bull shit implemented? i hazard a guess at it being the same arse hole that tried to get ACTA voted in in the EU and has also been over to the USA having talks with Hollywood execs! what the fuck is it with these people? dont they realise that there are far more important problems facing the world than whether a studio is getting every last cent from a movie release, while at the same time refusing to pay the very people that starred in that movie and criminalising as many people as possible because they shared that movie with a few others over the internet? Jeez!!

horse with no name says:

Almost missed this

Almost missed this post under the paid advertisement post.

the fact that for three hundred years changes to copyright have always been in one direction: longer, wider and stronger

Yes, The use of the copyright material has also become longer, wider, and stronger. Your point?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Almost missed this

You’ve come into the conversation late.

In Eldred, and again in Golan, Justice Ginsburg gave her that Congress has plenary power to fashion the copyright regime, unrestrained by effective review from the judiciary.

As we look back at the history, and project that history forward into the future, we see that copyright terms are increasing without any limit. The court has written the “limited times” phrase out of the Constitution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Almost missed this

“use of the copyright material has also become longer, wider, and stronger.”

And your statement is based upon what, exactly?
– population increase?
– quantity increase?
– piracy increase? (lol)

Typically when comparing periods in history one makes an attempt to normalize the data before drawing conclusions.

Mike Raffety (profile) says:

LDCs and IP protection limit growth?

“The rationale is that LDCs need maximum flexibility to develop a viable technological base and address their constraints, and that the standard of TRIPS IP protection may be an obstacle in achieving those objectives.”

Doesn’t this itself shoot a big hole in the claim that IP protection is essential to economic growth? If patents and copyright are necessary for growth, it seems like the LDCs would be clamoring to immediately implement the most restrictive laws possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: LDCs and IP protection limit growth?

… shoot a big hole in the claim that IP protection is essential to economic growth?

No. It doesn’t shoot any holes at all.

Why? Because the claim is laughable on its face, and unsupported by history. For most of the Nineteenth century (up until 1891) , the United States did not extend copyright protection to foreign works. We developed just fine under this policy.

Now, it’s true that we had oceans on either side of us?that helped a lot?and after the War of 1812, the British weren’t too keen on sending another army. Perhaps, in today’s changed circumstances, the oligarchies of the imperial nations may be more inclined to impose their diktat upon ?pirates?. Getting invaded sorta devastates an emerging economy.

But, the fact is, the United States was, in a literary way, a ?pirate nation? nation during the first century of our development.

So you’re responding to a claim that can’t be shot full of holes?it’s already a hole?there’s no there there.

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