Former DHS Official: ACTA 'Sweetheart Deal For IP Owners; Free Gov't Enforcement Of Private Rights'

from the indeed dept

We recently wrote about a 2008 memo and position paper from Homeland Security to the USTR warning that ACTA was a bad idea that could harm national security, and transfer private civil issues to the government to enforce. The author of the original memo, Stewart Baker, who is no longer at DHS, has now commented on our coverage of this issue, stating that DHS did not like ACTA as it was drafted:
It seemed like a sweetheart deal for a few intellectual property owners, who’d get free government enforcement of their private rights, potentially to the detriment of security and traditional customs enforcement. Worse, the sweetheart deal would be written into international treaty, putting it beyond Congress’s reach if the risks we foresaw actually came to pass.
Baker notes that he still feels this way. Of course, he also jokes that it appears to cause us "physical pain" to admit we agree with the DHS. I recognize it's a joke (and kind of amusing, too), but just for clarity's sake, I have no problem agreeing with anyone when I think they're correct (even the RIAA). It's not about who's making the argument. It's about the argument.


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(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    bob, Apr 28th, 2011 @ 1:53pm

    Laws are always sweetheart deals

    Aside from some generic bromides about the pursuit of happiness, most of the laws benefit a subset of the people. The TSA searches, for instance, protect air travelers (rich), airplane owners (richer) and building owners (richest). The last time I looked at the Greyhound terminal, the TSA wasn't there protecting the average American. So the DHS is already playing favorites.

    This is true at all levels of the legal system. Parking meters? They help the local businesses ensure that people don't park their car in front of the shops for days. Corn futures regulations? They help the big businesses keep the corn pipelines flowing smoothly.

    Now you might say, "I don't own a shop downtown" or "I don't make High Fructose Corn Syrup." Why are you paying for the enforcement of these rules? Maybe because you want the merchants to continue to thrive so they'll be there when you need to buy something. Maybe you love HFCS. Maybe you just want to eat corn-fed beef and a smoothly running corn marketplace keeps the price lower.

    The same is true of IP regulation. If we leave aside the fact that all of us create copyrighted content every day, we still benefit when the major corporations benefit. I'm not talking about the CEO's high salaries, which I hate, just the fact that cracking down on piracy means films become more profitable. More profits attract more capital and that means more films will be made. If you're a film lover, you want the development costs spread amongst all of the consumers. So everyone who goes to the movies or watches TV has a stake in a fair marketplace.

     

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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Apr 28th, 2011 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Laws are always sweetheart deals

    If you're a film lover, you want the development costs spread amongst all of the consumers. So everyone who goes to the movies or watches TV has a stake in a fair marketplace.

    Except this is not what industry wants, they want everybody to pay even if they don't consume (see: media levies in Canada, government enforcement subsidy in US). And even if the consumers have paid, they want them to pay again...and again.

     

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  3.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Apr 28th, 2011 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Laws are always sweetheart deals

    Ok my first response is definitely WTF?

    "I'm not talking about the CEO's high salaries, which I hate, just the fact that cracking down on piracy means films become more profitable. More profits attract more capital and that means more films will be made. If you're a film lover, you want the development costs spread amongst all of the consumers. So everyone who goes to the movies or watches TV has a stake in a fair marketplace."

    Maybe I'm just new to the marketplace, but I had no idea that film lovers like myself wanted the development costs to be spread amongst all of the consumers. It's more likely that film lovers want to see a good film. The internet (piracy til someone offers a legal free or reasonably priced solution) now allows us to preview a film before spending money on the social experience of the theatre. It would seem that this would make good films much more profitable at the expense of poor films. Im ok with less poor films and more high quality films, as opposed to just more films being made.

    As for cracking down on piracy making movies more profitable, is that a gut instinct or has the movie industry been losing money every year since the rise of piracy? And I just have to ask why can't we just change the name from piracy to something else and make it legal? Lobbying and Bribery are the same act, but one is legal.

     

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  4.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 28th, 2011 @ 2:39pm

    Re: Laws are always sweetheart deals

    Now you might say, "I don't own a shop downtown" or "I don't make High Fructose Corn Syrup." Why are you paying for the enforcement of these rules? Maybe because you want the merchants to continue to thrive so they'll be there when you need to buy something. Maybe you love HFCS. Maybe you just want to eat corn-fed beef and a smoothly running corn marketplace keeps the price lower.

    I believe you have a faulty understanding of economics. This is extreme trickledown that you're talking about, where you don't support the freemarkt, but you support propping up legacy large businesses in the hopes that it will trickle down to others.

    Economically speaking, this is a total nonstarter. That's because economic growth -- the kind you really need -- is usually not driven by such large companies, but by smaller, more innovative and nimble players.

    So what you are advocating does not help. What you are advocating hurts, because you are protecting the non-innovative companies.

    The same is true of IP regulation. If we leave aside the fact that all of us create copyrighted content every day, we still benefit when the major corporations benefit. I'm not talking about the CEO's high salaries, which I hate, just the fact that cracking down on piracy means films become more profitable. More profits attract more capital and that means more films will be made. If you're a film lover, you want the development costs spread amongst all of the consumers. So everyone who goes to the movies or watches TV has a stake in a fair marketplace

    This is simply false. Once again, you are protecting the less innovative at the expense of the more innovative. You are holding back economic growth, which is what actually benefits more people.

    If you want more films being made, you should support the more economically efficient system, rather than the one that protects a few gatekeepers, who have every interest in limiting supply.

    So, I'm sorry, but your economic analysis simply fails. It's voodoo economics in the extreme.

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Apr 28th, 2011 @ 2:44pm

    It's not about who's making the argument. It's about the argument.

    Respect level just jumped tenfold. That's why I come here.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Apr 28th, 2011 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Laws are always sweetheart deals

    Dude, the Eighties called, and they want their false economics back.

     

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  7.  
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    That Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2011 @ 4:18pm

    We can let them have all of this free enforcement, just as soon as you close the loopholes in the tax code that allows them to turn a multimillion blockbuster into a money pit where they lost money.

    While free enforcement sounds good, given how they react to the idea of loosing a nickel today to make $5 tomorrow I think they would run far far away from it.

     

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  8.  
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    abc gum, Apr 28th, 2011 @ 6:25pm

    Re: It's not about who's making the argument. It's about the argument.

    Yes, and to some extent upon why they are making such an argument.

     

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