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UN Broadcasting Treaty May Restrict Speech 257

Posted by Zonk
from the really-big-brother dept.
ashshy writes "A UN treaty under proposal could lead to unprecedented restrictions on free speech and fair use rights around the world. Ars Technica pulls together what you need to know from multiple sources." From the article: "The proposed broadcasting treaty would create entirely new global rights for broadcasting companies who have neither created nor own the programming. What's even more alarming is the proposal from the United States that the treaty regulate the Internet transmission of audio and video entertainment. It is dangerous and inappropriate for an unelected international treaty body to undertake the task of creating entirely new rights, which currently exist in no national law, such as webcasting rights and anti-circumvention laws related to broadcasting."
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UN Broadcasting Treaty May Restrict Speech

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:06PM (#15263621)
    Rights are by default. "Creating rights" means lifting bans, not the other way around.
    • You cannot create rights. Rights are by default. "Creating rights" means lifting bans, not the other way around.

      Actually, you'll find both are manmade. Nature has neither concepts.
    • by Dachannien (617929) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:58PM (#15264131)
      Actually, the default state is that the only "rights" you have are the ones you can physically defend for yourself. The concept of basic rights only comes about because societies collectively protect those rights, in essence creating them.

      That said, society can also take rights away without abdicating those rights to the default state, and that's probably a better description of what's intended with this treaty.

    • Rights are "recognized." China for example does not recognize "Freedom of Speech" as a right.

      However, rights can be created, when there isn't one. But what it really boils down to is what are our rights. If our right is to act completely in our own self interest and to impunge the rights of others, then where does one person's rights end and another person's right begin? For example, I have a right to be free and the right to make my own choices. Does that mean when I excerise a right to make choices and I
    • OK, so you choose to define "right" that way. I think you'll find (1) that it doesn't correspond to everyone's usage and (2) people who say this are usually trying to push a particular view of rights, often a fringe one such as libertarianism.
    • Rights can be created, usually by the State. For instance, the right to vote. Probably no one here, but some would argue that owning property is a State-granted right. (If you don't believe me, try to buy urban land in China.) How about the right to get equal treatment based on race, color, gender, ancestry, or age? How about the right to an education? The right to medical treatment? You aren't born with any of those.
  • It's an unelected international body. Therefore not binding law. Right?
    • Re:Um, exactly. (Score:5, Informative)

      by OrangeTide (124937) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:15PM (#15263713) Homepage Journal
      Depends mostly on if our elected officials grant this unelected body the right to govern us. Happens all the time through various treaties.
      • by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:23PM (#15263791) Homepage Journal

        True, but "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Doesn't this mean that the Senate shall enact no such treaty?

        • by OrangeTide (124937) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:31PM (#15263860) Homepage Journal
          Bingo. Although it is against the law to shout "FIRE" in a crowded room. And it's against the law to publish copyright protected works without permission, and it's against the law to make up lies about people that damage their reputation. So "freedom of speech" has some limits.

          The senate cannot violate constitutional rights, treaty or no. When you agree to a treaty you generally just agree to make the contents of the treaty a law in your country. If you do not manage to make the treaty legally binding in your jurisdiction then the treaty is not ratified (much to the annoyance of treaty cosigners).
          • The "Yelling fire in a theatre" principal is not ingrained in law. It was spoken/writen by a supreme court judge in a ruling that was later overturned (by a later supreme court ruling).

            I'm too lazy to google for it right now.
          • and it's against the law to make up lies about people that damage their reputation.

            Actually, it's not - you won't be arrested for calling the president a pedophile, for example.

            Now, he can sue you for damages, but that's a civil case.

            It's also not against the law to shout "fire" in a crowded room, either... as long as there is actually a fire, of course.
        • True, but "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Doesn't this mean that the Senate shall enact no such treaty?

          In a perfect world.

          The world's not perfect.
        • I think this part of Article six applies:

          This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

          So yes, once we sign a treaty- it becomes law at the level of the constitution, overriding state laws- not sure
          • every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

            The meaning of that statements depends on the binding of the clause "any State." There are two possible parenthesizations:

            "every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in (the Constitution or Laws) of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

            vs.

            "every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in (the Constitution) or (Laws of any State) to the Contrary notwithstanding."

            The first

    • Re:Um, exactly. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fussili (720463) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:16PM (#15263719)
      Depends on the state/situation. I'll simplify things because you don't really need to know all the law and only weirdos like me find constitutional law interesting. Some 'international' legislation is enacted immediately (for instance, in France European legislation of a certain type is automatically a part of French law), however for the most part, there is almost no chance that 'International law' (the phrase itself is an anathema and complete and utter crap btw, anyone who mentions it needs their heads examined or their phony law degree torn up) can be relied upon in domestic courts. There are however situations in which some international agreements would have some legal force. For instance, in the courts of England and Wales there is a presumption at law that Her Majesty's government intends to honour its treaty obligations - a presumption relied upon heavily in the past 20 years as the House of Lords has gone about carving its own Human Right's jurisprudence. As for this resolution however, any assertion made that it will be applicable or enforceable in domestic courts is laughable. In the United Kingdom, as I presume it would be in US courts which are markedly slow to consider international agreements as having any legal force.
      • Go Go Massive-Unreadable Block of Legalese! Thank you bad mousing! Here's a better edited one:

        Depends on the state/situation. I'll simplify things because you don't really need to know all the law and only weirdos like me find constitutional law interesting.

        Some 'international' legislation is enacted immediately (for instance, in France European legislation of a certain type is automatically a part of French law), however for the most part, there is almost no chance that 'International law' (the phr
      • In the United Kingdom, as I presume it would be in US courts which are markedly slow to consider international agreements as having any legal force.

        Remember how the DMCA, SonnyBono-copyright-extension act, etc started in USA: as something Congress felt they were required to do, in order to have US law match treaties such as WIPO. Then the treaty was indirectly enforced.

        This treaty may be a prelude to weirdo legislation appearing in Congress. How they'll get past the First Amendment is questionable, bu

        • by Eccles (932) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @02:10PM (#15264232) Journal
          Remember how the DMCA, SonnyBono-copyright-extension act, etc started in USA: as something Congress felt they were required to do, in order to have US law match treaties such as WIPO.

          Actually, the DMCA started when the US pushed for the WIPO copyright treaty, then pushed for the DMCA on the grounds that US law had to match WIPO. A handy scheme to get around local objections.

          Time to build Dogbertland, I think.
    • Re:Um, exactly. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Elemenope (905108)
      True, but not conforting. Treaties are negotiated between the parties (sometimes with an intermediary like the UN). Then, each party goes through whatever its ratifying process is; in the US case, ratification requires the consent of the Senate, for example (and do you really think they wouldn't?). Once it is ratified, it is law. Now, there is some disagreement amongst scholars (notably Akhil Amar as a famous dissenting voice) as to whether treaties under US law should be considered superior, equvalent, o
      • Re:Um, exactly. (Score:3, Informative)

        by general_re (8883)
        Now, there is some disagreement amongst scholars (notably Akhil Amar as a famous dissenting voice) as to whether treaties under US law should be considered superior, equvalent, or subordinate to Federal law when they conflict

        Scholarly debate notwithstanding, case law is really fairly clear that treaties are on a par with federal statute, and that both are subordinate to the Constitution in any case - see, e.g., Reid v. Covert, 354 US 1 (1957).

    • Unfortunately, no. From what I can remember from my intro law class, once signed, such treaties have a high status and can even override local laws.

      Don't worry though, the solution is simple: simply pretend no such treaty was ever signed, and the worst case scenario is that UN will be very angry with you and maybe send you a letter saying how angry they are.
    • Re:Um, exactly. (Score:3, Informative)

      by badasscat (563442)
      It's an unelected international body. Therefore not binding law. Right?

      Right, and after that last sentence I'm not quite sure that the article submitter really understands how treaties work.

      Every country handles treaties a little bit differently, but to my knowledge no country allows an international treaty to trump national sovereignty. In the US, for example, treaties must be ratified by both houses of congress and signed by the President to take effect. Thus, there is no danger of an "unelected interna
      • Just to clarify a few points: it takes a 2/3 majority of the Senate alone to ratify a treaty (the House has nothing to say about it), and any treaties so ratified acquire the force of law. I'm not sure what would happen if a ratified treaty directly contradicted a provision in the Bill of Rights. My guess is that the treaty would prevail--effectively repealing the Article in question, but I invite any lawyers out there to contribute opinions more authoritative than mine.

        Article II, Section 2 of the Unite [usconstitution.net]

        • I'm not sure what would happen if a ratified treaty directly contradicted a provision in the Bill of Rights. My guess is that the treaty would prevail...

          No. The Constitution supersedes treaties. Otherwise you could sneak amendments to the Constitution in through the back door by simply signing a treaty with some other country. Article VI needs some careful parsing, but the effect of Article VI is that treaties, like federal laws and the Constitution itself, supersede state laws and state constitutions

    • It's an attempt by a group of national governments to synchronize their understanding and treatment of [fill-in-the-blank]. It is _not_ "creating" ANYTHING. It is simply a document that says "we're all going to agree to do things the same way so we don't have confusion."

      If people would actually READ the !#%$ing document, they'd see that it is not all that spectacularly upsetting:

      http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/html.jsp?url=http: //www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/sccr/en/sccr_14/sccr_14 _2.doc [wipo.int]

      As NATIONAL laws chang
    • The Web site has a second hand account of a somewhat bizare interpretation of the treaty. The treaty does not extinguish fair use rights, does not bar the Daily Show from using clips of Fox News, does not provide the degree of control described.

      What the treaty does appear to be trying to do is to extend geographic rights limitations currently enforced through the limitations of broadcast media (TV signals only go so far) to the Internet.

      An international treaty has no effect unless the member states agre

    • Not until the treaty is actually written, signed, and ratified by actual governments. But the US making particular proposals is a sign that the US administration wants those to be in a final treaty that it wants to sign and get ratified.
  • A direct attack (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:10PM (#15263658) Homepage Journal
    On Comedy Central I'd say. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have made fun of traditional media- and this attacks their primary way of getting their fake "news" (by Tivo'ing the other channels and picking out stuff to make fun of).
  • by kratei (924454) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:12PM (#15263677)
    If you don't like this, do something about it. What? Contact your representatives. I don't know what to tell those outside the US, but for those of you inside it:

    https://secure.eff.org/site/Advocacy?JServSessionI dr011=kftdaz9nm1.app13b&cmd=display&page=UserActio n&id=163 [eff.org]

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:12PM (#15263686) Homepage Journal
    First we say the UN is irrelevant and we won't send any of our people to the UN International Court of Justice because the UN has no authority over us.

    But, then we say that the UN gave us the ok to invade another country.

    However, then we say that the head of UN is corrupt and the whole system needs to be replaced.

    But now we're asking this corrupt body who has no authority over us to impose rules on other countries and how they transmit items over the net and elsewhere.

    Someone stop the spinning! I'm gonna throw up!
    • Also, the US ambassador to the UN, Bolton, is publicly opposed to the existence of the UN. Who better to represent us in an international assembly than a person who believes the assembly should be abolished? Brilliant.
      • Sometimes it's extremely benefitical to bring in someone who hates your product/organization to figure out any problems. Bolton does that now for UN instead of just sending a bunch of fanboys. Many Open Source projects could learn this.

        Neitherless, UN is corrupt, mostly worthless organization who would should kick out of New York and put all the diplomats back on boats and send them back to where ever they came from.
    • A forum for international debate. According to Article 6 of the Constution, "all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land." Means if we enter in to a treaty, it is a law up there on the same level as the Constitution itself and has to be obeyed as such. Most countries operate similarly, even if they don't have a constitution that explicitly spells it out.

      So the UN has power in that respect. Countries get together, they hash out an
      • Means if we enter in to a treaty, it is a law up there on the same level as the Constitution itself and has to be obeyed as such.

        Er, no. Welcome to Civics 101. All laws and treaties in the USA are legal only in that they do not conflict with the Constitution, as amended. Plus the US Govt has never been particularly good at sticking to treaties, except when it suits the fancy of the current administration, so words like "binding" and "obey" have a pretty dubious application here.

        That said, there is nothin

        • Plus the US Govt has never been particularly good at sticking to treaties,

          Yes, but how many have actually been approved and passed by Congress as law? Seems to me that the President goes out, signs something to make nice, but Congress never actually passes it, so by all technicalities, the USA doesn't have to abide by the treaty.

    • 1. Yes, America just as every other country are full of hypocritical people led by hypocritical leaders. This isn't news. They'll Slam the UN one day when they don't want to participate (Iraq war), and praise them the next when it serves their purposes (Strong media conglomerates).

      Why the US -won't- fight this is simple. When it comes to entertainment (Audio/Visual) economies, the US is way ahead of the rest. Why would they stand up to a resolution that allows other governments to police their income? It do
  • by alphasubzero949 (945598) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:18PM (#15263738)
    The traditional mass media is becoming more and more irrelevant with each passing day thanks to the advent of blogs, podcasts, independent music, and films. You can bet your bottom dollar that the conglomerates have been looking for ways to thwart this "revolution" in mass media and get pieces of the pie - albeit unsuccessfully. This is the **AA's "last stand" - if you will - on a global scale because they want that control back and will do anything by any means necessary.

    Seriously, how are they going to crack down? File John Doe lawsuits in Albania?

    Get real.
    • The lawsuits that shut down Suprnova weren't too many miles away from there, if I do recall correctly. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the reach of multinational corporations with obscene amounts of money, even if I do dislike them just as much as anyone. This is exactly what this is-they want to try and shut down Bittorrent and other such trackers in Albania, or Sweden, or Slovakia, or what-have-you.

      Absolutely agreed that this entire issue is about control. It's pretty difficult to maintain artificial

    • The traditional mass media is becoming more and more irrelevant with each passing day thanks to the advent of blogs, podcasts, independent music, and films. You can bet your bottom dollar that the conglomerates have been looking for ways to thwart this "revolution" in mass media and get pieces of the pie - albeit unsuccessfully. This is the **AA's "last stand" - if you will - on a global scale because they want that control back and will do anything by any means necessary.

      Maybe in your eyes, but not in re

    • I really hope this is the *AA's last stand as you say. I also hope this treaty doesn't go anywhere. However, if it does, this is how I could imagine it going:

      Treaty is passed --> US begins to enforce the treaty as US law --> To "protect the rights of content creators," compulsory registration of US web sites, blogs, etc. is passed

      I realise that this is a slippery slope argument, but I also believe that this could actualy happen in the next decade or so. I think that the internet is more free (as i

  • This is a real problem. We have to fend off the US Congress, the FCC (they will be back, Congressional authority or no), the EU, the UN, etc. and as soon as we defeat one attempt another is introduced. We have to win every battle, they to win once. One step is to cut the number of fronts. Just oen more reason to burn the UN building to the ground and send those idiots home.

    The UN is useless anyway so it isn't like it wouldn't be a good thing all around. The indisputable fact that it is a 'Parliment of
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:22PM (#15263785) Homepage Journal
    It is dangerous and inappropriate for an unelected international treaty body to undertake the task of creating entirely new rights, which currently exist in no national law, such as webcasting rights and anti-circumvention laws related to broadcasting.

    It is also dangerous and inappropriate for even elected national officials to undertake the task of destroying rights they are specifically not allowed to destroy (see Constititution, definition of "no law" means "no law").

    The rights of the people are best protected when regulations are created and enforced close to home. The International government has no rights to give preferential treatment to one person or party over another. The bigger that government is the, less it should do to try to level any playing field. In the long run, more power at the upper levels of government are almost always abused to create paternalism and cartelization, not to actually protect rights.

    Our own Congress in the U.S. has overstepped their bounds with the FCC and the myriad of unconstitutional laws affecting speech. These laws, if wanted by the people per the 9th and 10th amendments, are better suited for the state or the village to create and enforce.

    The interstate commerce clause was not meant to give Congress the right to regulate trade or commerce on a control level -- it was written to give Congress the power to penalize states that infringe on a person's right to trade freely with other states within the union of states. Don't read more into simple words than is necessary.

    The UN is just as irrelevant in my life as the US is. I'm an Illinoisan first and foremost. Even that group is too big to treat me with respect and to protect my rights from those looking to trample on them. What other people want to do in other countries, states or even cities is none of my business: I have no desire to prevent them from harming themselves or encouraging them to be lazy by paying for their failures. The UN is the epitome of wealth transfer and power transfer, and if you look at the corruption that has occurred that we know about, it only makes me wonder what corruptions have occurred that we don't know about.
    • The UN is just as irrelevant in my life as the US is. I'm an Illinoisan first and foremost. Even that group is too big to treat me with respect and to protect my rights from those looking to trample on them...

      Your statement is excellent. If there is one thing I wish we would all learn about politics it's the point you made. Your local government is what matters. Local government has the ability to make decisions to protect your rights. That's why the constitution was written the way it was. 200 year
    • "Our own Congress in the U.S. has overstepped their bounds with the FCC and the myriad of unconstitutional laws affecting speech. These laws, if wanted by the people per the 9th and 10th amendments, are better suited for the state or the village to create and enforce."

      You know...I've really started wondering how the Fed's have so much power over the states...even with the Interstate Commerce act.

      I was watching something from the History channel the other night about illegal drugs...and how

      • Basically, because the Supreme Court said so. I will go ahead and give their reasoning behind this. If a person from another state can somehow receive the good or service (in their own state or the atate of origin) it is interstate commerce. And, if a state attempted to ban the sale of something to someone from another state, that would be unconstitutional since it is regulating interstate commerce. It really stinks, but that is how they get away with it.
        • So, you're telling me that this rulling stated that:

          intra-state == inter-state?

          Hmm..I'm gonna start reading up on this...always wondered how the Feds pulled that one off...

          • Yes. It is the basis they use for all civil rights legislation. Since any state or local discriminatory laws could possibly affect a traveler from another state. The other way they control states is with purse strings. The congress writes legislation that says is a state does this (say lower speed limits) they will get federal funding for something. The corollary is is a state doesn't do this, it will not get the federal money. When you are talking about things like highway dollars and federal money for en
            • Yes. It is the basis they use for all civil rights legislation. Since any state or local discriminatory laws could possibly affect a traveler from another state.

              That's not even remotely accurate. Federal civil rights legislation is based on the 14th amendment:

              "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within i
  • by Distinguished Hero (618385) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:24PM (#15263801) Homepage
    "It is dangerous and inappropriate for an unelected international treaty body to undertake the task of creating entirely new rights, which currently exist in no national law, such as webcasting rights and anti-circumvention laws related to broadcasting."

    So, someone has finally noticed that the UN is unelected. Quite interesting how nobody seems to mention that when they agree with what the UN is doing.
    • The genocide in Sudan is still going on, and the Holocaust denying leader of Iran is still making nuclear headway, but yeah, I guess if you had to mention the most important thing going on at the UN, I guess this proposed treaty that nobody has to abide by anyways (like most of the other UN treaties) is it.
    • by Tony (765)
      The Supreme Court of the United States is unelected, as well. Yet we seem to put great faith in them.

      Unelected is not necessarily bad.
      • They don't have the authority to create laws.

        Police aren't elected yet they enforce laws. Judges judge laws, and sometimes judge them as invalid. We don't elect them because they are not deciding what is enforced, the legislative branch is ELECTED to do that.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:31PM (#15263866)
    Without the ability to defend your rights, you have no rights.

    Without the ability to defend yourself, you have no Constitutionally protected right of self-defense.

    Only when they silence the First Amendment, will you need the Second Amendment.

    The Internet has been the most democratic invention in human history. Anyone who can get on it has a potential world-wide voice, which is why some countries censor it to heavily. But they can't censor it in secret. So who are these clowns at the UN, and how do we get them thrown out?
    [/soapbox]

  • by the_skywise (189793) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:33PM (#15263881)
    http://www.digmedia.org/content.cfm?id=7223 [digmedia.org]

    Since 1997, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has been considering a treaty that would modernize broadcaster protection provisions of the Rome Convention to account for digital broadcasting and the challenges of online networks. The focus has been to protect broadcasters against signal piracy, particularly related to the unauthorized commercial retransmission of signals captured over-the-air or intercepted from satellite transmissions. One example of this was in 1999, when a company called iCraveTV captured U.S. television stations' signals and retransmitted them over the Internet without permission or license. Though a Canadian company, iCraveTV had registered its domain name in the U.S. so a U.S. court was able to exercise jurisdiction and end this piracy.

    The iCraveTV episode demonstrated the vulnerability of broadcasting to unauthorized retransmission over the Internet that reduces revenue to broadcasters and the copyright owners whose works are being transmitted. Given the risks of signal theft and the potential harm to the broadcast industry, the United States has supported enhancing legal protections for broadcasters by updating the rights addressed in the Rome Convention.

  • Stop blaming the UN! (Score:5, Informative)

    by MikTheUser (761482) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:34PM (#15263887)
    This is a _proposal_ by the United States, so if you want to go and cry blue murder (which I think _is_ appropriate), don't take it to the UN, take it where it belongs - to the Bush administration.
  • by Logger (9214) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:50PM (#15264051) Homepage
    The article is written to make you think this treaty will steal copyrights away from content creators if they choose to broadcast content through some broadcaster of some sort. It does not do that. So the article is being alarmist to attract attention. (That or they probably didn't read the treaty either.)

    The Bad: Looks like it would put an end to PVRs as we know them. I'm sure ABC would allow Comcast to rent you a PVR which enforces ABC's rebroadcast requirements. YUCK! So the article got that much right.

    The not bad: The so called restrictions on the original content creators don't exist. Basically the treaty states FOX can state terms to Groening that if they are going to broadcast the Simpsons on their network it is going to have the broadcast flag and be restricted according to their policy. Groening could of course not agree to those terms and tell them to fly a kite. Fox may then come back to groening and say OK we won't do the broadcast flag. That my friends will never happen, because Groening wants FOX to get the add revenue (which is of course how they pay him). Even with the broadcast flag on every episode of the Simpsons there would be nothing preventing Groening from hosting a webcast of the show himself without the broadcast flag. That is unless his contract with FOX prevents him from doing so, which I think it already does anyway.

    The unclear: The webcast amendment doesn't appear to read like Comcast can tack on a broadcast flag to a home movie my parents stream from my .mac account. It seems to be giving the webcaster the right to impose such restrictions if they wanted to. In this example .mac would have to add the broadcast flag to the video. Comcast simply being the conduit, could not. So this has the same restrictions as over-the-air broadcasters, I could still chose not to use that service and set up my own server if I didn't agree to the terms.

    So, for content creators the sky is not falling, but for PVR users it probably is. This isn't really anything new, just more of the same. I am not sure what to think about this actually. I don't think it's evil as some would like to suggest. If everyone skipped all commercials, networks would go out of business as we know them. That wouldn't cause an end to media, it would just transform the way we get it. Content would end up being sold pay-per-view for everything. We already seem to be starting that transition. So if you don't want to pay for everything, and are willing to live with ads to pay for some content, allowing things like the 'broadcast flag' may be the necessary evil. Just a thought.

    ** Names of companies and TV shows were pulled out of thin air for the purposes of illustration. Don't read anything this post as implying these particular companies are or aren't behind this treaty.
  • Read the fine print (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:53PM (#15264083)
    The US proposed this as an UN treaty. It's not yet signed.

    Actually everyone (well, every nation that's a member and has the right to, but let's ignore the details for now) can make a proposal. China could propose to have everyone shot that dares to speak up against the ruling bodies of the nations.

    What's scary is, it might even get a majority... but let's ignore that detail too.

    In fact, if you want to get irate, at least pick the right target. It's not the "UN" who proposed it, it's the US. Or, rather, its leaders.

    And I find it quite amusing, in a grim way, that the US government turns to the UN to push through their copywrong internationally. Whenever it goes against their ways, the UN is brushed aside, but suddenly it becomes interesting again.

    Face it. The UN is a tool to some countries. No wonder pretty much everyone ignores it.
  • limit broadcasting over the internet ? right.

    dudes, that's what SSL tunnels exists for. if this thing passes, we'll soon see underground encrypted networks bcasting all kind of contents. with open source software, of course.

    then they'll come with regulations on open source, because it "promotes criminal activities". that's when i'll start shouting "stop the world, i wanna get out".
  • Did anybody RTFA? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:57PM (#15264116)
    I've scanned all the visible, non-threaded comments and none (including the /. blurb) mention what is most troubling to me:

    broadcasters such as cable companies, radio stations, and Webcasting operators would essentially take over the rights to control material broadcast over the Internet, to the point where the original content creator would have to "beg permission from broadcasting companies in order to make any use of their own performances."

    (emphasis mine)

    If you think this is unlikely, remember that if you make up a song and sing it without writing it down or recording it, you have no US rights to that song.

    And should you make a major label record, the label owns the copyright to the song you wrote and performed!

    AFIAC, both major US political parties are my enemies. I intend to protest by splitting my vote amongst any third parties on the ballot this November. Clearly, my government, as well, it seems, as every other government are in the multinational corporations' back pockets.

    Is it going to take an armed revolution to get our countries, our world, back? My country's declaration of independance starts with "We, the People." We, the people aren't being represented at all any more.

    Fucking slashdot, I was already in a bad mood today >=(
    • If you think this is unlikely, remember that if you make up a song and sing it without writing it down or recording it, you have no US rights to that song.

      Dude, take your chill-pills and review the basic premise of copyright. It is the right to copy something. If you never write it down or record it, there is nothing to copy. Others can repeat your song-passed-along-verbally as much as they want without any promise of compensation to you. Conversely, you can sing any song you want (as long as you do
      • Re:Did anybody RTFA? (Score:3, Informative)

        by LocalH (28506)
        Conversely, you can sing any song you want (as long as you don't record it or write it down) no matter who holds copyright for no charge.
        Have you never heard of performance rights? You try performing music that you don't have the copyright to, without recording or writing it down.
  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Thursday May 04, 2006 @02:06PM (#15264192) Journal
    In any democratic nation a signed treaty is not law until Parliamnent or its equivalent passes enabling legislation. Just because representives sign a treaty doesn't make it law or even certain that Parliament will pass the treaty legislation. Even though Canada has signed on to the WIPO protocols (the alleged impetus in the U.S. for the hated DMCA act) we still haven't passed the required enabling legislation, although the preceding Liberal government did introduce legislation as required by the treaty before it died. Most treaties contain language stating the minimum requirements to meet treaty obligations and dates for compliance. The United States signed the Kyoto Protocol yet President Bush later reversed that decision, so it's not like Kyoto became law in the U.S. the second Clinton signed the treaty.

    I know in the U.S. the Senate holds exclusive authority over treaty legislation and once passed treaty obligations are considered equivalent to domestic law, if memory serves. I don't see how the Senate could pass treaty legislation that violates the constitution, but I am not a contitutional expert.
    • From US Constitution, Article VI:
      This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
    • Treaties in the US are of equal authority to the Constitution, according to the Constitution. They cannot, however, supersede it, so a treaty cannot violate the first amendment.

      Plus, so far as I know, as with most nation, even once it's ratified, it still needs enabling legislation.

      Looks to me like the US is sponsoring a treaty that can never be implemented in the US. Perhaps a way of making sure other nations can't compete with us.
  • by Aqua_boy17 (962670)
    "Despite the benefits, and despite the fact that the data is available to everyone, the use of illegally obtained records in a law enforcement investigation is highly dubious and fundamentally antithetical to the principles of due process. Privacy and civil liberties advocates point out that purchasing private phone records allows law enforcement agencies to circumvent judicial oversight and other applicable constraints."

    Well, if it's good enough for the Bush administration and the NSA, it's good enough fo
  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @02:29PM (#15264431)
    The fact that the UN refuses to recognize a legitimately free nation like Taiwan is evidence enough that the organization is full of shit.
    • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Thursday May 04, 2006 @03:16PM (#15264836) Homepage Journal
      The UN is the sum of its member states, nothing more, nothing less. What the UN is good at or bad at mainly reflects that too.

      The problem is that the alternatives are worse: You could dissolve it, of course, but then you would remove a useful organ for peaceful cooperation. You could strengthen it, but that would mean for nations to hand over part of their sovereignty to a body where their enemies and rivals have power too. As it stands, the UN is largely what it can be - it has power where most countries agree, and it has none where there is widespread controversy.

      Judging the UN with unrealistic expectations is pointless. Judge its actions on the basis that it is an organisation comitted to bringing together nations regardless of their forms of governments, and regardless if they are oppressive dictatorships. In light of the huge differences between the member states it's a wonder the UN manages to accomplish anything at all.

  • by Sowelu (713889) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @02:46PM (#15264593)
    "As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last loose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master."

    -- U.N. Commissioner Pravin Lal, "Librarian's Preface"
  • Human Rights (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kisak (524062) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @05:35PM (#15266067) Homepage Journal
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the document that defines the UN and its purpose. One of the Human Rights is freedom of expression. [wikipedia.org] If the RIAA and MPAA and other evil USAian corporations are able to get their poison into this new international UN Broadcasting Treaty, and this poison is not compatible with the Human Rights, the treaty will be void and will have to be changed. It is as simple as that.

    Oh, and explain me again the theory that whatever governments do is evil while corporations can do no wrong because they are a part of a "free market" and should only make money for their stock holders.

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