IIPA's Section 301 Filing Shows It's Really Not At All Interested In Reducing Copyright Infringement

from the incredible dept

We've covered some of the better comments to the USTR over the Special 301 report, such as the submission from the CCIA. But, of course, there were some ridiculous submissions as well -- and at the top of the list has to be the submission from the IIPA -- the International Intellectual Property Alliance, a trade association/lobbying group of trade associations/lobbying groups (including the RIAA, MPAA, BSA, ESA and NMPA) that proudly highlights how it has filed comments for the Special 301 report since such things began in 1988. But what's stunning is what the report effectively admits. Even though it claims to want to focus on ways to cut down on copyright infringement, the details show it wants the exact opposite. That's because in reports on a variety of countries, the IIPA seems to suggest that policies encouraging or mandating the use of open source software is somehow a bad thing.

But if your goal is to actually reduce infringement, then wouldn't you want to encourage the use of legal software? And by encouraging the use of open source software, you are making it that much less likely that infringement will be a problem, since the software will be cheaper. Basically, the IIPA is flat out admitting that it's not actually interested in reduced copyright infringement. It's abusing the USTR's Special 301 process to set up protectionist policies for the companies and organizations it represents -- and trying to use that process to deny efforts to actually reduce infringement.

This is really incredible when you think about it. Even though the USTR 301 report is supposed to be about figuring out ways to reduce infringement in countries around the world, the IIPA is trying to shoehorn open source software into the mix, claiming that it's somehow worse than infringing. While many of the IIPA's complaints have to do with mandates for open source software, it even goes after Indonesia, which is just recommending gov't agencies consider open source software -- and here, the IIPA basically exposes its agenda even further:
It encourages a mindset that does not give due consideration to the value to intellectual creations. As such, it fails to build respect for intellectual property rights...
Yes, you read that right. The IIPA is claiming that telling people to consider open source technologies -- which are not at all "anti-intellectual property rights" -- "fails to build respect for intellectual property rights" and doesn't properly value intellectual creations. In other words, in the eyes of the IIPA, properly licensed software that happens to be under an open source license is worse than infringing because of its price.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 24th, 2010 @ 2:21pm

    Huh...

    Wow, you know what, I never really noticed the subtlety before, but now I wonder how in the world I missed it.

    "It encourages a mindset that does not give due consideration to the value to intellectual creations. As such, it fails to build respect for intellectual property rights..."

    It's an incredible insight into the mindset of these organizations and lobbyist groups, and it's actually been on display for all to see, even right here on Tech Dirt. Think about it. When we here people decry the practice of infringing downloading of music, including here, there are two things you hear people say:

    1. Pirating/Infringing is illegal. You should pay for music!

    2. Pirating/Infringing is illegal. You shouldn't download infringing music!

    Maybe I'm the only one that missed it, but despite the similarities, those two statements are very, VERY different. The first doesn't want you to stop what you're doing, it just wants you to start handing over money for it. The second is actually far more on point. What you're doing is illegal, so you should stop.

    The quote above highlights how these content industries ascribe to option #1. It isn't about doing something wrong, it isn't about doing something illegal, it's just about collecting more money. This is why they think open source or FREE! options are so dangerous: if there's a free alternative, and it becomes more widely used, they go away entirely. It's no longer about getting more at that point.

    It's about surviving....

     

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      vivaelamor (profile), Feb 25th, 2010 @ 5:30am

      Re: Huh...

      "This is why they think open source or FREE! options are so dangerous: if there's a free alternative, and it becomes more widely used, they go away entirely."

      Those damned hippies cheated us out of our monopoly! Free is unfair competition. *twirls moustache and looks pensive*

       

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      Hephaestus (profile), Feb 25th, 2010 @ 7:22am

      Re: Huh...

      "This is why they think open source or FREE! options are so dangerous: if there's a free alternative, and it becomes more widely used, they go away entirely. It's no longer about getting more at that point."

      That is why ASCAP's site has a whole Anti CC section. Doing the scare tactics thing they and RIAA do so well.

       

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    Flakey, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 2:58pm

    FOSS

    I gotta tell you. I don't use M$ Office. The free one that came on the computer was uninstalled and dumped. I use Open Office instead. Open Office doesn't have phone homes. There's not a ton of people writing macro viruses for it.

    Nor do I use Photoshop. Why in the world pay that much for a program that GIMP does just as well at? Best of all, GIMP doesn't phone home either.

    So let me wander over there, adjust muh parrot, polish muh eye patch and feed muh pegleg.

     

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    Steve R. (profile), Feb 24th, 2010 @ 3:06pm

    Everything Must Have a Price

    It seems that there is a subset of people who cannot accept that things can be "free", such as Linux or Wikipedia. That everything must somehow be monetized.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 3:09pm

    In other words. "It's illegal if we're not getting paid for it"

     

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    inc (profile), Feb 24th, 2010 @ 4:23pm

    They also miss the whole point of open source. Hopefully most users of open source software agree it basically means, "free as in free speech, not as in free beer". It's amazing how many proponents of copyright think that open source somehow means you can't get paid for your work. Depending on the license used, I mainly free it just gives me the right to modify and improve the software I paid for; which I don't feel there needs to be a special license for.

     

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      Richard (profile), Feb 25th, 2010 @ 4:41am

      Re: Free speech, free beer..

      Actually FOSS takes you beyond even free speech - its takes the developer to "Free Man" because you are not enslaved to the task of guarding your IP....

       

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    kyle clements (profile), Feb 24th, 2010 @ 4:28pm

    IIPA: protecting capitalism by creating legal barriers to prevent a less expensive product from competing in an open market.

    is that about right?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 5:28pm

    Let me see if I have this right.

    Company A produces and sells a proprietary software product and, perhaps, associated support services.

    Country B legislates that its government procurements must eschew proprietary software.

    Company A is thus locked out of being able to submit a responsive bid to the government procurement officials in Country B.

    If I was the President of Company A you are darn right I would be upset, not because I would be competing with Open-Source in a free and open competition, but because I could not even submit a proposal to the cognizant government agency for my product.

    This is not about proprietary vs. open source, but about precluding one with a proprietary product from even participating in a government procurement.

     

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      Modplan (profile), Feb 24th, 2010 @ 5:39pm

      Re:

      No it isn't, because there are reasons Governments are starting to look more towards open source over proprietary software, which stem from being competitive against proprietary counter parts.

      Not to mention that this isn't the argument that IIPA is making - IIPA is saying that open source undermines copyright and/or patents, not that looking more towards open source alternatives might be unfairly skewing the market, because they know that this isn't what's happening.

       

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      Not the Prez, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 6:02pm

      Re:

      Many governments look into open source because they recognise the benefits of using open standards for their data archive needs. Some closed source shops claim compatibility with open standards, but this is arguable. Possibly you are familiar with what is referred to as "forced upgrade". This perpetual cycle is costly and very difficult to break free of once you have a significant amount of data saved in the particular proprietary format.

      In your example, company A is not locked out of submitting a bid. They can easily support an open standard archive system, but they choose not to, and therefore it their choice that has precluded them from competition.

      In your example, "Country B legislates that its government procurements must eschew proprietary software." Where did that come from? You can't be serious.

      So, it is a "free and open competition" if you want to compete. The customer (gov in this case) wants a product that meets their needs, the company (A in this case) is free to bid if they so choose. It is not about "precluding one with a proprietary product from even participating in a government procurement" ... that is nonsense.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 7:12pm

        Re: Re:

        It is easy to understand why you believe as such, but after decades of dealing with government agencies, be they federal, state or foreign, I can assure you that what may strike you as nonsense happens all the time.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 8:30pm

      Re:

      Country B legislates that its government procurements must eschew proprietary software.

      Except, that isn't what's happening here and you're just another freaking, lying copyright shill.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 7:17am

        Re: Re:

        I read each of the individual country attachments addressing this matter and being locked out from participating in a procurement was the underlying concern.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2011 @ 8:11am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Including Indonesia? You know, the place specifically called out in this very article as *not* requiring open source, merely recommending that it be considered at all?

          Liar.

           

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      Richard (profile), Feb 25th, 2010 @ 3:03am

      Re:

      Country B legislates that its government procurements must eschew proprietary software.

      If a government wants to have access to the source code in order to preserve its investment then it is no business of a supplier company to tell them they can't have it. The customer is always right - if you aren't prepared to supply on their term then you don't get the contract.

      Governments have ALWAYS insisted on their own terms and conditions when they procure stuff (in the past they never used to procure COTS anyway precisely because they didn't have source access. FOSS is ideal - it combines source access with the robustness of COTS. If you aren't prepared to supply it then you have NO business to tell the goverment and the supplier who IS prepared to deal that way that they can't.

       

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      Richard (profile), Feb 25th, 2010 @ 3:28am

      Re:

      Company A produces and sells a proprietary software product and, perhaps, associated support services.

      Country B legislates that its government procurements must eschew proprietary software.

      Company A is thus locked out of being able to submit a responsive bid to the government procurement officials in Country B.

      If I was the President of Company A you are darn right I would be upset, not because I would be competing with Open-Source in a free and open competition, but because I could not even submit a proposal to the cognizant government agency for my product.


      Tough. I used to work for a company that sold stuff to the US/UK/Australian governments. Governments write "invitations to tender" they put on conditions. Sometimes your product meets them, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the conditions were inserted at the behest of a competitor.
      On one occasion we were given a spec. (for a piece of equipment that would live in an office environment) that said it must be either mil. spec. (ie suitable to put in a fighter plane) or COTS (where COTS was defined in such a way that a certain competitor's product just qualified and ours didn't.

      If you make proprietary s/w you can always release the source to the government if you want the contract enough. The rules don't specifically exclude you - just the standard terms and conditions that you choose to impose.

      If the governement asks for bananas then don't whinge if you have decided to sell apples.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 7:31am

        Re: Re:

        The article and the 301 submission did not go into any detail adding facts to the degree you mention.

        Yes, I have seen COTS with source code mandates. I have seen equipment design with tech transfer of know how and show how in order to establish dual sourcing. I have seen small business set-asides that locked out original manufacturers. I have seen mandates for in-country manufacture and incredibly ridiculous off-set requirements (ever try and sell a military system upon the condition that if you win you will be required to establish in country a cat fish farm?), government demands for a full TDP and full tech transfer to segments of the government can themselves compete directly with the private sector developer (e.g., BLU-117)...the permutations are limited only by the imagination of procuring agencies who somehow think companies are stupid enough to give them something for nothing.

        Government "contracting" is a world unto itself, and any resemblance between government contracts and contract law are purely coincidental and certainly not intentional.

         

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          jbashy227 (profile), Mar 12th, 2010 @ 5:46am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm really interested and have been researching this - can you provide some examples of these"...........I have seen equipment design with tech transfer of know how and show how in order to establish dual sourcing. I have seen small business set-asides that locked out original manufacturers. I have seen mandates for in-country manufacture and incredibly ridiculous off-set requirements (ever try and sell a military system upon the condition that if you win you will be required to establish in country a cat fish farm?), government demands for a full TDP and full tech transfer to segments of the government can themselves compete directly with the private sector developer.......... "

          Let me know!

           

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      techflaws.org (profile), Feb 25th, 2010 @ 3:57am

      A strawman right there

      Country B legislates that its government procurements must eschew proprietary software.

      Country B legislates that government procurements must use open formats.

      Micros~1 could have made their Office read/write ODF but they refused to play along and released their own "open" format which is as helpful as having two standards for railrod tracks.

       

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        Richard (profile), Feb 25th, 2010 @ 4:38am

        Re: A strawman right there

        Micros~1 could have made their Office read/write ODF but they refused to play along and released their own "open" format which is as helpful as having two standards for railrod tracks.

        No, that's too generous. It's more like having two standards about which side to the road you drive on...

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 5:25am

      Re:

      'CONSIDER' using open source.
      Not legislation aainst proprietry software, just asking them to think about alternatives.

       

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      John Fenderson (profile), Feb 25th, 2010 @ 6:27am

      Re:

      "If I was the President of Company A you are darn right I would be upset, not because I would be competing with Open-Source in a free and open competition, but because I could not even submit a proposal to the cognizant government agency for my product."

      Of course you could!

      The only problem is if your product does not meet the requirements of the agency, namely being open source. Open source does not necessarily mean non-commercial, remember.

      There is nothing in the world stopping Company A from producing an open source product and submitting a proposal for that.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 7:34am

        Re: Re:

        Flip the facts...Open-Source will not be permitted. This would equally be unfair and Open-Source providers would have every reason to complain as well.

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 11:50am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Flip the facts...Open-Source will not be permitted.

          The real "fact" is closed-source is still permitted and you're obviously a shill.

           

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 12:59pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It helps to read an entire comment before weighing in and hurling accusations at someone you do not know.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 1:46pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              It helps to read an entire comment before weighing in and hurling accusations at someone you do not know.

              Claiming that situation would be a flipping of the facts in this case is untrue. If you aren't a shill, then just exactly is your reason for telling such a lie? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you aren't a shill. Maybe you just like to lie for no reason. But I doubt it.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 4:54pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Flip the facts...Open-Source will not be permitted. This would equally be unfair and Open-Source providers would have every reason to complain as well".

                If OS was not permitted to participate that would be equally as unfair. In the US any federal procurement attempting to try this (whether proprietary excluded or OS escluded) would immediately find itself on the losing end of a bid protest...and justifiably so.

                 

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                  abc gum, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 7:48pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Not sure where you get the "not permitted" stuff.

                  Typically, whomever desires a new widget will somehow publish a request for quote, to which interested parties respond. If you are not interested, then I see no benefit to whining about being left behind.

                   

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          John Fenderson (profile), Feb 28th, 2010 @ 12:42pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Open-Source will not be permitted. This would equally be unfair"

          How would this be unfair at all? I'm not seeing it. The customer is simply saying that they prefer a certain type of licensing arrangement. Why is the customer obligated to take a kind of licensing arrangement that they find unappealing? *That's* unfair, as well as anti-capitalism and anti-free market.

           

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      identicon
      Brian X, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 4:20pm

      Re:

      Uh... no. Consider open source licensing as a feature like any other. If someone insists that their software be open source, it's no different from insisting that it has a specific type of encryption or something like that.

       

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    vyvyan, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 7:10pm

    Yeah, yeah. Open source is unconstitutional and un-American. Every once in a while some moron shouts this. I'm getting sick of their lack of creativity.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 8:25pm

    Use Open Source? Then You're a Pirate!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 8:54pm

    You know what we need to do is to delegate our efforts into one group, perhaps the EFF, and fund them to fund campaign contributions to whatever of the two dominant parties (ie: democrat or republican) that promises to alleviate our ridiculous intellectual property laws. They can fund Ron Paul or whoever is most likely to win that will most strongly alleviate our intellectual property laws. They poll money from the masses and use that to contribute to campaigns in return for promises that they will try to alleviate IP laws, and if they break their promises they won't get funded next time and the group will fund the opposite party instead. At least that can help alleviate IP advancement until we can get a decently influential and funded pirate party up and running in the U.S.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 8:58pm

      Re:

      basically the group can pick any congressmen (senators or house of representatives be they democrat or republican) or even presidential candidates that have the strongest chance of winning and give them money in return for the promise that they will help alleviate our IP laws. If they follow up on their promise they keep getting funded. If they don't, we fund someone else instead.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 9:03pm

    "In other words, in the eyes of the IIPA, properly licensed software that happens to be under an open source license is worse than infringing because of its price. "

    in other words, charity is wrong. If I want to build a piece of software and donate it to the masses that's charity and hence wrong. I must fund an "official" charitable organization that will probably end up secretly wasting most of the money on "administrative costs" (IE: the brand new top of the line BMW of the owner of the organization).

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 9:13pm

      Re:

      in other words, charity is wrong.

      Hell yeah it's wrong!
      Don't you know anything about capitalism?

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 9:59pm

        Re: Re:

        Kevin: What are we going to do with this hacked off part?
        Michael: Well, that is a perfectly good mini tree, Kevin. And we are going to sell that to charity. That's what Christmas is all about.

         

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 11:17pm

    Not surprising

    Copyright and patents are monopolies meant to suspend the free market system, making competitor's products illegal would be a natural extension of that.

     

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    techflaws.org (profile), Feb 25th, 2010 @ 3:59am

    Coming soon

    Expect Micros~1 to start charging for Internet Explorer, after all giving away software for free is immoral, right?

     

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    senshikaze (profile), Feb 25th, 2010 @ 6:38am

    If open source undermines intellectual property, I am even more vehemently pro-FLOSS.

     

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    Daemon_ZOGG (profile), Feb 25th, 2010 @ 8:46am

    USE FOSS!

    There. I said it. If that makes us rebels, then BRING IT ON, BABY!!

    The IIPA and everyone under them are a bunch of Hypocritical Mafia SNOBS that FEAR competition whenever they feel unappreciated or beat.

    Unfortunately, the US government is already terminally stupid, has a knee-jerk reaction to unfounded allegations on everything, and is slowly becoming more undemocratic every year.
    :P

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 12:09pm

    http://www.iipa.com/

    Runs on a Linux derivative. Will they sanction themselves?

     

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