Why Is Red Hat Associated With A Letter That Calls More User Rights In Copyright A Dangerous 'Contagion'?
from the hopefully-they'll-stop-that dept
We covered the ridiculously long fight in WIPO to finally get a treaty that allows greater rights for the blind to get access to copyright-covered works. This fight, which went on for over a decade, finally reached mostly a conclusion in the past few months with the Marrakesh treaty. While the US avoided it at first, even it signed on at the beginning of October. Of course, the US was the main force opposing the treaty for a long time, with the main argument against it being something along the lines of “if we make any concessions towards more user rights over copyright-covered content, it will set a bad precedent.” This is the mind of a maximalist: the ratchet can only work one way, and that way is for greater protection and enforcement, even if there’s no evidence that it does any good (and plenty of evidence of the harm it does).
KEI points us to a just-discovered letter sent to the State Department to fight against the WIPO treaty right before it was finally agreed to, arguing (of course) that any effort to give users greater rights is a horrible precedent to set. The letter was sent from a group called the Trans-Atlantic Business Council (TCB), and was apparently pushed around DC by a lobbyist for General Electric (note taken: General Electric wants to fuck over the blind — what, they don’t buy enough lightbulbs?).
More incredible is that among the members of the TCB is… Red Hat. If ever there were a company that should be in strong favor of more user rights and against maximalism, it’s Red Hat. One hopes that the company doesn’t approve of this letter being sent in its name. Similarly, IBM is on the list, and it’s a company that relies tremendously on open source software. Does IBM want to go down as a copyright maximalist with no concern for the blind? If not, it might want to reconsider its membership in such an organization.
The letter itself really is incredible in the ignorance it pushes, definitely fitting into the category described above:
As currently drafted, the VIP Treaty would set a negative precedent, reversing years of joint U.S. and EU efforts to prevent the erosion of global Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and undermining the U.S. and EU negotiating positions in a range of other global IPR and trade negotiations.
And here’s the really incredible part, which likens rights for the public to a disease:
Agreement of the VIP Treaty on the basis of this text (or anything approximating it) could negatively affect U.S. and EU IP-related negotiating positions across global forums for years to come. The risk of contagion is not limited to copyright issues alone, but spans the entire range of IPR issues, including also patents, trade secrets, and trademarks. U.S. and EU positions in the ongoing debates at WIPO, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNTCCC)–where IPR issues have been a politically divise issue for years–and the World Health Organization (WHO) could certainly be undermined.
The idea that more user rights is a “contagion” and might harm other agreements is, fundamentally, ridiculous.
One hopes that Red Hat will distance itself from such ridiculous language, which appears to go very much against the company’s stated position on both copyright and patents.