by Mike Masnick
Tue, Feb 22nd 2011 1:00am
It always seems amusing to us when various trade officials include stronger copyright and patent laws in so-called "free trade agreements." By their very nature, copyrights and patents are monopolies. They're protectionist policies and the very antithesis of true free trade. Yet, for a variety of reasons (i.e., lobbyist demands), it's now becoming quite standard for officials to put stronger protectionist patent and copyright rules into the misnamed "free trade agreements." The gold standard here, of course, was the one that the US and South Korea signed a few years ago, that forced Korea to massively ratchet up its copyright laws, leading to dangerous precedents, including fears that certain advertisements could get you in trouble for copyright infringement. Of course, the US-SK FTA was also the basis for ACTA, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the EU has now signed a similar "free trade agreement" with South Korea, and EU officials are hyping up how it involves stricter patent and copyright requirements. They also note how they followed the lead of ACTA in keeping all the details entirely secret from the public (though you can probably assume that industry representatives were able to read it) until it was already signed. The new transparency at work.
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