It certainly has the potential to remove some open pollinated plants from the public domain, which is why the OSGATA (Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association) has filed suit against Monsanto. Their suit was rejected but is now on appeal, with oral arguments having been heard on January 10, 2013. It's an uphill battle for them to get standing in the case, though. Organic growers aren't in the habit of spraying RoundUp on their plants, so even if they're at risk for contamination, Monsanto is arguing that the organic growers have no exposure to litigation for infringement of the RoundUp Ready patent. The oral arguments make for an amusing, albeit sad, read.
I need to correct myself - that's not the argument Monsanto is making this time. The best summary I've found is this argument preview. Basically, the prediction is that they'll be found to big and important to be held to any basic standards of decency in their dealings with little guys. Also of interest, who's weighing in on which side.
Actually, much as Monsanto would prefer you not believe it to be the case, farmers do continue to develop their crops without large, patent protected, corporate budgets. There's the American Chestnut Foundation, which has spent well over a decade developing a blight resistant American Chestnut, and Badgersett Research, a little Mom and Pop place that's been working on developing better hazelnuts, chestnuts, and hickory trees for food production, just to name a couple of the longer term projects that supposedly can't take place without the protection that patents give.
It gets even more convoluted - I've been following this. It's the act of benefiting from the gene that is illegal regardless of whether you've signed a license or not. It's OK to replicate (hence the plants are off the hook), and you can even plant the seed, but as soon as you spray the round-up on it and the plant doesn't die, you are in violation. I kid you not.
I've noticed the copyright maximalists are so afraid of that apt word that they really can't think straight when it is uttered. Makes sense though. Given a choice between a monopolist and a pirate, which do you think is the more politically damaging term? Especially since the public can recognize (or read in the US Constitution) that copyright maximalists really are monopolists.
Arguing in favor of the Pirate name, it is associated with unprecedented political upset: the defeat of legislation that conventional wisdom said couldn't be defeated. This has made me realize that we really aren't powerless, as those who are trying to maintain their hold on power would prefer we believe.
Also, there's a long history of underdogs embracing derogatory labels (eg geek). A negative label which can be associated with such a great success is a treasure in the P.R. world which I don't think we should lightly squander. We fight censorship, and they call us pirates. Maybe the label pirate is one that we should embrace?
Actually, I think the comment makes some sense. The Germans most definitely have not forgotten how easy it is to completely lose freedom and come under the rule of a totalitarian state. Don't forget how enlightened pre-Nazi Germany appeared to be, and you might see some parallels with how the U.S. now sees itself as a haven for freedom.
Those who live in countries that were on the side of freedom in the war have a dangerous hubris about how "it can't happen here." We aren't as likely to notice signs of an impending police state such as "your papers please." I remember my mother, who was a Wave officer in the Navy during WWII, explaining how in the United States indefinite detention is illegal, supposedly one of the freedoms she fought for. Japanese detention camps aside, I still think she's been turning over in her grave about the fact that after Obama signed NDAA, indefinite detention has become the law of the land here.
Does this bill permit packet sniffing by cable companies in the name of detecting cybersecurity threats? If not, what does the following language in the bill mean?
"Title VII Information
Notwithstanding chapter 119, 121, or 206 of title 18, United States Code, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), and the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.), any private entity may
(1) monitor information systems of the entity and information that is stored on, processed by, or transiting the information systems for cybersecurity threats;"
(The referenced Title 18 of the United States Code has to do with pen registers and interception of communication. Notwithstanding means in spite of or despite)
I found this while trying unsuccessfully to sign one of these petitions:
"USTR is committed to President Obama’s OpenGov Initiative, helping to create a government that is transparent, participatory, and collaborative with the American people. USTR’s OpenGov page will allow for the American public to ask USTR questions, review Annual Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reports, and contact USTR officials. As USTR works to create trade policy that benefits American workers and families, the OpenGov initiative will be a vital tool in maintaining an open dialogue with the American people.
Share Your Ideas
"USTR has created a comment form where you can comment on USTR's open government plan and priorities."
I also downloaded the USTR transparency plan (pdf) from this page, which says about the TPP: "This new initiative presented an excellent opportunity to engage more robustly and in new ways with the American public to gain input as the Administration crafts its trade policy." and refers to this page:
The whole experience of trying to sign this petition is just a bit too Kafkaesque for my tastes. I think I'll wait 'till tomorrow to read the TPP information which has been posted to make it, not just in compliance with, but exemplary of the OpenGov Initiative. YMMV
Sorry Google, I'm not quite ready to hop on board the OPEN Act yet. I think at this point we can ask for more than that - like real copyright reform. The legal interpretation of the balance between the interests of rights holders and promotion of progress (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution) has shifted way too far towards rights holders. Until some balance is restored, you're going to have as much trouble combating piracy as they had enforcing prohibition. And, I fear, we're going to get some really entrenched criminals as a result, just as we did with prohibition.
Here's the press release. Not sure when the change takes place. I do believe that Leahy honestly believes in PIPA and would not disagree with anything in Obama's press release. The same may go for Ed Pagano. Please, everybody, spend more time talking to your legislators and their staff, and less time in the echo chamber.
On Thursday, Leahy backed off on DNS. On Friday, Leahy announces that his Chief of Staff Ed Pagano is leaving to be Obama's liaison with the Senate. And here we read that Abramoff "would talk to staffers -- especially chiefs of staff -- and just let them know he had a job opening for them whenever they wanted it." Also, there's the big splashy White House announcement supposedly against SOPA/PIPA. Anyone want to speculate on how these dots are connected?
I, for one, trust Leahy, who took very unpopular stands against both the Iraq and Vietnam wars. I think he really views piracy as stealing and has been blinded by his passion against stealing to the nuances of this issue. I think Vermonters might be getting through to him that eating Gilfeather turnips isn't stealing. John Gilfeather of Wardsboro, VT, and the developer of the Gilfeather turnip, would cut the bottoms and tops off them before selling them, so that no one else could grow them - DRM for the 19th century.