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The Almighty Buck

U.S. Intellectual Property Law Goes Global 117

That's a large part of the intent of the Hague Convention on Jurisdiction and Foreign Judgments, tempered by other countries' desire to have their copyright and patent laws enforceable worldwide, too. Today I attended a public roundtable discussion about this treaty proposal at the U.S. Library of Congress. (more)

Representatives of "copyright holders" heavily outnumbered freedom advocates, as is typical at this kind of event, but the leadoff speaker, Michael Davis of the Progressive IP Law Association, started the session by talking about how hip-hop sampling would be killed by the Hague Convention if it is ratified in its present form, which has "fair use" provisions nearly as onerous as those contained in the DMCA.

Interestingly, Marilyn Cade of AT&T spoke out against much of the Hague Convention's intent; her company's concern, she said, is keeping global communications and ecommerce free and easy. A representative from Yahoo! was even more negative about this treaty, which would make U.S. authorities responsible for enforcing other countries' copyright and IP laws, and vice versa.

Think about this spectre, which another participant raised: a court in Moscow, Iran or China could decide something posted on a Web site based in the U.S. violated their countries' laws and, as Hague Convention signatories, demand that U.S. authorities force the Web site owner to remove the offending material. This is not a far-fetched idea; remember Yahoo! and the French government's objection to Nazi memorabilia sales?

At the other extreme, the American Society of Media Photographers loves the idea of a treaty that will help its members collect royalties from foreign media that use their images.

Not Just Speaking to the Peanut Gallery

I only counted 36 people in the audience; intellectual property issue discussions never draw mass attention. But the only audience that counted today was the U.S. Hague Convention delegation, and they were here, sitting up front, listening to every panelist's words, asking questions, and generally trying to learn what various constituencies want (and don't want) in the way of intellectual property treaties before they go off to the next negotiating session.

A Nationalized Movie Industry?

Jared Jussim of Sony Pictures talked at length about the "entrepreneurialism" of the movie business and how vigorous international copyright enforcement is needed to keep the movie business healthy. He said, "If we could have the Digital Millenium Copyright Act extended throughout the world, I would be ecstatic about it."

Jussim ranted hard about online freedom-seekers; he dumped on "professors" who "cite each others papers in a big circle" and how they are all "liars." Strong words. But that wasn't enough for the man. He directly stated that if movies or even pieces of them were distributed online or through other means not approved by the movie companies, the entire industry would eventually shut down; that "you would pay a tax" to finance government-produced movies; and that government flunkies would decide what movies got made and what you saw in theaters and on TV. Horrors!

The spectre of a government-controlled film industry obviously is enough to make any right-thinking person want to see all possible copyright protection added to every possible intellectual property treaty.

Faced with this potential evil, it is obvious that the ACLU and all those professors who yammer on about fair use, freedom of speech, constitutionality and similar silliness must be ignored.

Media Attention

The Washington Post showed up. A cameraman from TechTV shot a few moments worth of tape, without sound. One of the local tech newsletters sent a reporter. And me. These were all the "known" journalists I spotted, but others were taking notes, so who can say? Perhaps one of the quiet people in the front row was a secret representative of the Today Show, but somehow I doubt it.

The Hague Convention could make major changes in the way intellectual property and copyright laws are handled on an international scale, but "the public" probably won't hear about any of this -- and won't care if they do -- unless there is some sort of corporate aggression under the Hague Convention that affects as many people as the RIAA's anti-Napster actions. Then you'll see the big-time pundits weigh in. But at this point in the game, they are nowhere to be found.

Enter RMS, Stage Right

Richard M. Stallman, representing the League for Programming Freedom, was scheduled to take part in the afternoon session but he showed up shortly before lunch and was immediately buttonholed by the Washington Post reporter. He spent the lunch break charming a member of the trade delegation, who said she was surprised that she had not heard "strongly" before about any of the intellectual freedom concerns brought up today by Stallman and other panel members. And listen to Stallman she did, with total concentration, while eating a sandwich and drinking a soda on the front lawn of the Library of Congress's Adams Building.

Stallman was not alone in speaking about the rights of intellectual property creators and users. Laurie Racine, of the Red Hat-sponsored Center for the Public Domain, did a turn, as did representatives of the Trial Lawyers of America, a blacksuited young attorney from the MPAA, Jamie Love from the Consumer Project on Technology, people from BMI, ASCAP,AAP, and other "interested parties."

Love brought up a hypothetical situation: Cuba copyrighting the "cuban beat" and demanding 5% royalties from all American music performers who use it -- and under the terms of the proposed Hague treaty, having the legal right to force U.S. officials to help them collect.

But proceedings like this one are basically dominated by lawyers. "What if?" questions get asked and debated. Ties between copyright laws and other cross-border civil and criminal situations get discussed in detail so excruciating that it could make non-smokers want to take up the habit just to have an excuse to slip outside for a few minutes now and then.

Not Just the U.S.

Even if the U.S. delegation to the Hague Convention come down totally on the side of the angels, they will still be just one of many delegations, and other countries may have other ideas. A number of people here today have talked about how, when it comes to copyrights and patents, the U.S. is one of the most restrictive nations around, so American copyright holders probably have more to fear on that front from the rest of the world than the rest of the world has to fear from us.

Where ordinary Americans may lose out is on freedom of speech issues. Many countries have far more restrictive policies on libel and on what citizens may or may not say about touchy subjects like politics or religion, especially if those opinions are published on the Internet.

RMS vs. Sony

Imagine Stallman being accused of "not speaking for the public" on copyright matters by Sony's Jussim -- who also managed to get in a plug for movies being a great entertainment value compared to live theater or professional sports. Imagine Stallman calmly -- aside from a gleam in his eyes -- reminding the poor flak that more money goes to promote movies than to make them, so that more money in the studios' pockets wouldn't necessarily lead to better movies.

This was the first moment of passion in over an hour. Sadly, it only lasted a moment. Then it was back to drone, drone, drone.

"The ISP Community" and "The Content Community" were phrases that got thrown a lot. In the legal sense, we heard, the question of whether "publication" takes place on a server or on the client where it is displayed hasn't been settled yet.

And so on.

Toward the end of the day Jamie Love said, "There hasn't been a single American newspaper article about this treaty, and here you are getting ready to create the Magna Carta of cyberspace."

Love didn't blame the people on the U.S. delegation for working in comparative secret. "I've called reporter after reporter [about this] and their eyes glaze over," he said.

So Slashdot was there. And if you want to read the text of this treaty, it's online here.

And if you are a U.S. citizen who wants to get in touch with the people representing you at the next Hague Convention meeting (in June), three good people to contact are:

Jennifer Lucas at USPTO (jennifer.lucas@uspto.gov)

Jeffrey D. Kovar at U.S. Dept. of State (kovarj@ms.state.gov)

Maneesha Mithal at the Federal Trade Commission (mmithal@ftc.gov)

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U.S. Intellectual Property Law Goes Global

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Mod that down before the government or DMCA reads it. Can't believe I actually posted that!!! Wait, wonder if I can patent that idea? No, could never live with myself and it might could be considered public domain now. If not then consider it GPL'd, at least then m$ will not try to pursue it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Allah is copyright some crazy Arabic mother fucker. With the new copyright laws, retroactive of course, and made by some crazy American mother fucker.. Probably Senator "Rich fuck born with a silver spoon up his ass, now he's using it to feed you your rights" Lars Ulrich, you are not allowed to use it without the written consent of the original author. This is your official cease and desist letter. You've been warned.. Don't make me get Mad Musslim on yo' ass.
  • Govt's are passing all sorts of wacky laws. They don't care that no one enforces them. The goal is to create laws such that ANYONE and at ANYTIME can be considered a criminal. This then allows the gov't to swoop down and whack anyone they want for any reason. They will, of course, say that busted the person for [usually unenforced law]. And you will have no defense because, "you broke the law right?" And even if you challenge the law and "win", did you really win? You will have lost many days/weeks/years of your life and spent thousands to millions of $$$ on not-recoverable lawyer fees. Since regular folk can't afford this, they will roll over and accept any "plea bargain" tossed their way. This saves them strife, and builds up case law and precedent to use against the next violator. See how the system works?
  • a "hacker" being someone who enjoys programming
    whoops...
    not just programming...
    hacking also involves other things such as electronics/mechanics/chemistry...

    mod em down!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Next move? How about the C(opyright)-chip? As you type your research papers, emails, reports etc, or play a piece of music on your computer the C-chip notes anything remotely infringing copyright and issues an electronic payment from your bank account to the appropriate authoritative body. Suddenly your computer locks up, a blue screen appears with the notice--"critical fault has occurred in your bank account, C-chip subsystem out of funds, input another account number with access information or shut down system"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So, the Fishman Affidavit [xs4all.nl] linkage would then also legally be approved by the US court? Or would the sciontology church actually have a stronger case then to make the rest of the world also stop linking to this 'copyrighted' document?
  • The "computer industry" is very much in favor of these draconian IP laws. The computer industry bought the DMCA and the UCITA. The computer industry is very good at asserting itself and when it comes to IP, it has exactly the same interests as the music industry. So please don't delude yourself. Individual programmers and small companies should assert themselves more, but the "computer industry" is just as amoral (as in 'not interested in morality') as any other industry. Erwin
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @05:47PM (#220870)
    All things nazi are illegal in France, Austris, Germany, etc. And porn is illegal in Saudia Arabia (a US ally). Will the US ban these web sites which are accessible in these regions? Will the US continue to be a DATA HAVEN for materials illegal elsewhere?

    Conversely, will the US allow its citizens to download porn of 17 year olds without question from Amsterdam web sites, where such materials are legal? Surely the US will respect other nations laws as much as we wish them to respect ours, right?

  • So, speaking of media not mentioning this, why didn't we see something on slashdot about it earlier? If Roblimo knew he was going, he certainly could have mentioned when and where the damned thing was BEFORE it happened. I'm fairly well read on issues that involve merging technology and politics, and believe it or not, have had my rantings cited/quoted before. Oh, and I'm living in the DC area for the next few months. I could have taken the day off work, hopped on the Metro and been at this meeting in half an hour. And I'd have jumped at the chance, too. I can't promise that anything I'd have said there would have made a huge impact, but with so few people in attendance, I'll bet that one of the VIPs would have noticed that "the college kid with the southern accent made some good points."


    Roblimo, could you (or someone else who knows) post a few more links about this, as well as a time and location for the next public meeting on it? Or, email me privately.

    --

  • You forgot the sound track....
  • The DMCA, and similar dumb anti-hacker (a "hacker" being someone who enjoys programming, not to be confused with a "cracker") laws are largely as a result of the fact that despite driving much of the US economy (much more-so than the music and movie industries combined), the computer industry has not really asserted itself. Yes, sometimes it is the big players within the computer industry who are the bad guys, but even Bill G was a hacker in his day.

    I would advocate support of groups such as the Electronic Frontiers Foundation [eff.org] by going to their website now and joining, thus helping them fight the good fight. I have.

    --

  • But one possible way out of this is for those countries that are leaned on by the US is to use free software. This is already starting in happen in places like China, where MS and other software companies are trying to stamp out pirates.

    It wouldn't be so bad to have 1/4 of the world's population use Linux...

    ...richie

  • How precisely could this be accomplished?

    Treaties are pretty clearly not intended to have the force of law unless enabling laws are passed normally by Congress. Otherwise we'd have a situation whereby the President and 2/3 of the Senate could make law without the input of the House. (even - gasp - in the case of a treaty which required appropriations)

    Additionally, Congress is prohibited from recognizing foreign copyrights on the terms that they exist in in their native countries, perhaps unless they were predicated on the same foundation as our own laws. A foreign copyright that was perpetual, did not allow US judicially recognized fair uses, was not initially granted to the author or did not exist for the purpose of promoting the progress of the arts can't be recognized here. There's no power to do so, since those are the only terms upon which they may be recognized. A US copyright could be granted, but it would be no different than any other US copyright, just held by a foreign party. That doesn't sound to me like what is being proposed.

    Although many lower courts seem to have difficulty with properly interpreting this body of law (siding with business interests that are totally besides the point anyway) I'd be amazed if this could actually take place.

    Oh, but then again I forgot that our government is rather corrupt these days. Silly me.
  • This is true - however, Congress' powers of copyright are clearly ennumerated. Perhaps there might be a case made that were they not, they might fall under the necessary and proper clause. (though given the presence of the First Amendment, who could say)

    However, the entire potential breadth of Congress' copyright powers is known. There is a lot of activity around the edges, but there are big hard limits as well.

    Congress could not, for example, legally levy taxes, curtail freedom of religion, deny due process, etc. without enabling acts - and it may not have the power to do so. Agreeing to a treaty is quite a different beast than abiding by it, and while the former may be possible it doesn't guarantee that the latter is. Honestly, has the constitutionality of that aspect of the Berne Convention you mention even been tested?

    Congress could certainly claim that it was exercising commerce powers in attempting to have soldiers quartered in civilian homes (home tax - put up one soldier) but that doesn't make it so.

    Now, Congress can certainly claim that copyrights held abroad are valid in those countries, or that posession of a copyright abroad which could be granted in the US is automatically granted if not already taken. But they can't favor foreigners within the domain of the US; I really don't see how they could possibly claim to legitimately do so.

    Many nations have state religions, prohibitions on posession of firearms, restrictions on the freedom of the press, lack due process or emenient domain - to claim that Congress can permit such policies here pretty much flies in the face of the federal government being limited at all; why were a House or a Supreme Court even established if they could be so easily circumvented? The answer could only be that they cannot in fact be circumvented, despite poor wording or lack of prescience among the framers. Their intent in the fundemental shape of our government was pretty clear, I think.
  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @04:19AM (#220877)
    The second that Bulgaria came forward and said the FBI had to nab an OpEd writer for the NY Times because of something he said on the paper's web site, the paper, the ACLU, and any # of congressmen, senators, and lawyers would start making the argument about the fact that a world wide convention can not supercede the constitution that governs this nation.

    Only popular speech would garner such protection ... the default modus operandi would be to adhere to the treaty and string up, figuratively speeking, the offending speeker. If the offendor against Bulgaria's Sacred Copyright were lucky enough to get sufficient attention I'm sure everyone, including the much maligned (and, ironicly, most deserving of our respect) ACLU, would jump into the fray on their behalf.

    But what about the ten thousand other people, little guys like you and I who never draw the atteniton of more than a dozen friends and acquaintances? We would enjoy no such protections ... our web sites or other offending material would simply be expunged, censored, in accordance with international law, with no one but our own ever thinning wallets to defend a fading right against the inertia and will of a hundred governments.

    Don't kid yourself. This sort of thing will tip the scales immensly to favor censorship and corporate content control over an individual's right to free speech. One or two poster children notwithstanding, the vast majority of us will be forced into doing what the Copyright Cartels have been demanding for the last two years: "Get your bitch asses back on the couch and shut the hell up."

    You, like I, may refuse to go back to a passive existence as a couch potato without a fight, and certainly not without complaint, but in the end, do either of us, much less the many thousands of others so affected, have the wealth to mount anything even approaching an effective defense against such an onslaught? I sincerely doubt it.
  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @04:00AM (#220878)
    I'm neither promoting nor critisizing the current state of legislation, but it's useless without worldwide standardization.

    Hogwash.

    Put another way: for a useless piece of legislation, Copyright Law certainly has allowed some very powerful, and very wealthy, Copyright Cartels to form (RIAA, MPAA, etc.), all without the "global standardization" you seem to hold in such high regard.

    One of the unwritten checks and balances on the current IP system has been the diversity of intellectual property law, which has allowed certain documents which would otherwise have been completely suppressed using one nation's laws or another to remain a part of the global information sphere. This check isn't enough to reign in the ever more draconian intellectual property regimes of the west, but it has allowed information to get out, into the public hands, where it could do some good despite efforts at outright censorship based in no small part one copyright law of one location or another.

    Imagine Chinese copyright law claiming ownership of any footage containing any Chinese Officials or Uniformed troups. Tiannamen Square would never have seen the light of day. Those are the kinds of unconstitutional (in the USA) laws which the treaty will require our government to enforce. What little regard the authorities in the US have left for the constitution will be swept under the rug with the all-encompassing excuse "the Hague Convention requires us to take these actions." Yes, someone, somewhere may have the cash and be willing to put the rest of their life on the line to fight such actions, and perhaps the supreme court will even see its way past its own petty politics to uphold the constitution (although there recent track record is anything but promising in this regard), but in the meantime we will all have been very effectively stripped of what few rights we have. Ditto for every other nation on the planet.

    All these freedoms, and the sacrifices of our forefathers they represent, squandered, simply to preserve the outdated business models of organizations that produce the least worthwile things in our culture: popular music and Hollywood tripe.
  • Microsoft offers you Office for $50

    You wish .. it's more like $250 for the 'upgrade' or $500+ if you buy it outright.

    If Microsoft weren't so bent on screwing everyone and anyone, there'd be much less piracy of their products, as there would obviously be less incentive.

    --
    Delphis
  • The only way they can enforce these fascist laws to the letter is by instituting Orwellian forms of governments around the world.

    The difficulty is not with governments. At least as government is practiced in the U.S. today, it is big and conspicuous, but at this point it is only a tool of corporations. Thanks to our system of campaign financing, politicians are already paid-for corporate property by the time they arrive in office. The only issues on which the government can freely exercise a will of its own are those issues on which corporations have no preference.

  • It's true. And they don't notice. So what aren't we noticing?

    Any answer I could give would obviously be wrong.


    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Guess what. That's the intent. The Republicans are even less libertarian than the Democrats. This is so extreme that they must be consciously working at it.

    The only hope that I see is that the pace of change will keep increasing fast enough to derail them. This may happen, but is by no means a foregone conclusion.
    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • .. I'm of the opinion that there should be a few less authorizations and a few more limitations. For instance, "To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;" ... is kind of broad, and means that the Federal Government gets to police the whole ocean, as well as "define and punish ... offenses against the law of nations" .. i.e., be hte police of the world.
    One application of this clause that was relevant in George Washington's day: According to a very old principle of international law (or, as they said back then, "the Law of Nations"), a pirate (the old-fashioned kind, that attacks ships on the high seas) is considered a hostis humanis genero (Latin for "an enemy of everyone," or some such). Therefore, if you're a pirate on the high seas, the first navy that catches you has the right to string you up. Under this clause, Congress has the right to pass laws defining and punishing piracy on the high seas.
    Interestingly, this limitation: "No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state." would seem to put the damper on internet sales taxes, just as it has on catalog mail-order sales; if you're not in the state it's being shipped from, then the good is being exported and the state can levy no tax on it.
    When you ship a book from one state to another within the USA, you're not exporting it.
    --
  • It seems very strange for me - a non-US citizen - that the US has been able to use IP laws that are more or less the opposite of all other countries in the world for so long;

    For example, while the rest of the world has been using the first-to-file approach to patents, the US uses a first-to-invent approach. That is - even if you patent an invention in the US, someone else may sue you after you've made millions of dollars and claim that "i've already done that before you did that", and demand that you pay him _lots_ of royalties.

    Thus, in the US, these are the steps to take in order to make big bucks on patents:

    1. Make sure you're a patent attourney
    2. Locate a company that have a patent on something fairly trivial (Do I hear "one-click shopping", or "XOR Cursor"?)
    3. Make sure the company has made big bucks using the methods patented
    4. Now locate an unsuspecting citizen or a small firm that did something that can be applied on the patent prior to it being filed
    5. Make sure you offer them your service - with a hughe percentage
    6. Sue the company, claiming that your client made the invention
    As they say, US is the land of opportuneties...

    Anyway, for the 4.5 billion non US-citizens of the world, it's time for the US to accept the international view on IP.

    /Flu

  • Where ordinary Americans may lose out is on freedom of speech issues. Many countries have far more restrictive policies on libel and on what citizens may or may not say about touchy subjects like politics or religion, especially if those opinions are published on the Internet.


    The second that Bulgaria came forward and said the FBI had to nab an OpEd writer for the NY Times because of something he said on the paper's web site, the paper, the ACLU, and any # of congressmen, senators, and lawyers would start making the argument about the fact that a world wide convention can not supercede the constitution that governs this nation

  • Treaties are not "on the same level" as the Constituion. The Constitution is the document upon which all other laws must be judged. The only legal way to supercede the Constitution is to ammend it. Congress may very well attempt to pass laws and sign treaties that go counter to the Constituion. This is why we have to other branches of government to keep them (and each other) in check.

  • What if a technology based on quantum entanglement is perfected that makes it impossible for anybody to eavesdrop on private peer-to-peer communication? What will the fascist governements do?

    Outlaw it, of course. If the RIAA can strangle digital audiotape technology to death in the cradle, then governments who have more power to decide legality can easily prevent the technology from coming to market.

    --
  • gagg! Personally, I'd rather watch blink tags than pay money for that!!!

    but anyway, this page lists a canuk representative's email address...
    http://www.hcch.net/e/members/no_ca.html

    Please be courteous and firm.

    Cheers,
    -David.
  • This brings up the issue of the US Constitution versus Int. Treaties. Does the Senate have the right or ability to approve a treaty that directly contradicts the United States Constitution without amend the USC?
    Though the idea of the Chinese government dragging MPAA members off to prison for portraying the PRC in a negative light does bring a smile to my face.
  • by skribe ( 26534 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @05:17PM (#220891) Homepage
    In some Asian countries practically everything you can buy is pirated.

    In Singapore, which is considered to be a first world nation, they have shops (sometimes 2-3 in a row) in the major arcades that just sell pirated software. It's all quite open and seemingly accepted. The only time I ever saw anything to the contrary was when all the pirate shops suddenly shut down at once. Apparently they'd been tipped off about a raid.

    I can't imagine a "less developed nation" wanting to, or being able to, enforce IP law, if a technological mecca like Singapore can't manage it.

    skribe
  • Pleaaaaaase mod the parent up! It's worth repeating...
  • Interesting sig. I'm not a physicist or anything, but it would seem that in absence of this arrow of time, that there needs to be another explanation for what we call "reality". The only one my feeble layman's mind can think of is that everybody is collapsing their own "reality" from the myriad of possible quantum states that they can potentially observe. Figuring out why these 6 billion "realities" never seem to conflict is the hard part though...

    An absolute dimensionless time makes this easy, because all 3-D coordinates are on one time-plane (ok, I'm starting to make up words now). Although it would perhaps make you wonder if some of these "magical" formulas (forces varying by powers of two, etc.) are just artifacts of energy being consumed in some "invisible" dimension. Ok, I better stop talking out my ass...
  • I particularly liked that bit about the US having more to lose than the rest of the world.

    Of course they were talking about degrees of control over public discourse/action, not dollars per se. Still ... I want to hope that on a Gaian scale, there might actually be some useful constraints how fully the corporate system replaces more equitable "seven generations" planning.

  • All I can say about this is that I hope that a sensible copyright scheme comes out of this.

    Right, like that's going to happen. The whole point of this treaty is to further reduce your freedom and the freedom of citizens in other countries as well.

    Hilary Rosen, Jack Valenti and Graham Beachum: not freedom fighters.

    - - - - -
  • One reason America's form of government works well is that in it, power is distributed among its levels. There's a general concept of putting power close to those it affects; and even at the highest levels, government is elected or otherwise subject to change and influence by the governed. The states are a laboratory for government, and provide choice and therefor competition, which is a good thing. For instance, the "Uniform Commercial Code" is not Federal Law. It's a set of nearly -- but not totally -- similar laws adopted independantly by each of the states.

    With a one-world government as it is currently shaping up, we're in for a bad thing. How much of the UN and NGO government-wannabes are elected and accountable to the people directly? None. When was the last time you voted for any part of the UN? Including all the treaties that set up law we must live under that may, in fact, limit, alter or supplant local law, including the Constitution?

    "Federalism" isn't a complete joke, and it's a good thing it's not. We need more Federalism, not less. And any would-be World Government needs to be very Federalist.

    The whole idea behind the US Federal Government was a common defense for the states, uniform inter-state commerce, a uniform currency, and standard weights and measures. That was it. The Constitution is a limitation on the powers of the government [cornell.edu], not the people. The Constitution did not provide for federal environmental law, federal hate-crimes law, federal workplace reglations, etc. See Section 8. As Madison stated, the Bill of Rights was redundant. Thankfully, we have it; because the clear (back then) intention of the Constitution has been subverted, and without the Amendments listing specific rights, we'd be a lot worse off than we are today.

    Federalism is not isolationism. And Free Trade is not isolationism. But forcing our laws on other nations in Imperialism. And the UN forcing other nations' laws, or extra-U.S. laws of their own devising, on us is as well.

    I'm of the opinion that, U.S. protections for commerce end at our borders. I believe in a separation of Church and State, and think a separation of Business and State is a good thing as well. Look at the mess that combining church and state got us into (i.e., the Dark Ages). Mixing Business and State is doing no better for us. How about this for an Amendment:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of trade, of the free excercise thereof."

    If IBM wants to do business in China, good for them, but they don't get to run to the U.S. Federal Government for aid in doing it. And special subsidies and protections don't get handed out to businesses like ADM ("ethanol subsidy") and tobacco farmers (tobacco quotas and price subsidies). Also, no monopolies. All actual monopolies are charted by governments. The rest are, at best, temporary -- given policing of illegal behavior such as fraud, threats, etc.

    This does not stop the government for regulating fraud, or outlawing and punishing actual crimes, such as theft, maiming and killing people, etc.


    - - - - -
  • For good measure, here are the specific authorizations granted the federal government:

    Section 7. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.

    [...]

    Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

    To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

    To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

    To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

    To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

    To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;

    To establish post offices and post roads;

    To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

    To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

    To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

    To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

    To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

    To provide and maintain a navy;

    To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

    To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

    To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;--And

    To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

    Section 9. The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

    The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

    No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

    No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

    No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.

    No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one state over those of another: nor shall vessels bound to, or from, one state, be obliged to enter, clear or pay duties in another.

    No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.

    No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

    Section 10. No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

    No state shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection laws: and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.

    No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.

    ... I'm of the opinion that there should be a few less authorizations and a few more limitations. For instance, "To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;" ... is kind of broad, and means that the Federal Government gets to police the whole ocean, as well as "define and punish ... offenses against the law of nations" .. i.e., be hte police of the world. I'd prefer Switzerland's approach of neutrality combined with a highly armed and trained populace to ward off attacks.

    Interestingly, this limitation: "No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state." would seem to put the damper on internet sales taxes, just as it has on catalog mail-order sales; if you're not in the state it's being shipped from, then the good is being exported and the state can levy no tax on it.

    And there's teh famous "Interstate commerce" clause: "To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes" -- on top of which they have balanced so many laws. The problem with regulating commerce is the same as with regulating religion. The government and those it regulates end up scratching each other's backs, until the lines of power are blurred. If government had no power to grant special priviledge to businesses, think how much cleaner our government would be. I doubt "Campaign Finance Reform" (i.e., an attack on the 1st amendment) would be an issue. Why bribe people who can't help you? And why become part of the government to make a buck from it, if you can't make a buck from it?

    - - - - -
  • This got pushed off the end, so I'm copying it here so people will see it:

    ... I'm of the opinion that there should be a few less authorizations and a few more limitations. For instance, "To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;" ... is kind of broad, and means that the Federal Government gets to police the whole ocean, as well as "define and punish ... offenses against the law of nations" .. i.e., be hte police of the world. I'd prefer Switzerland's approach of neutrality combined with a highly armed and trained populace to ward off attacks.

    Interestingly, this limitation: "No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state." would seem to put the damper on internet sales taxes, just as it has on catalog mail-order sales; if you're not in the state it's being shipped from, then the good is being exported and the state can levy no tax on it.

    And there's teh famous "Interstate commerce" clause: "To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes" -- on top of which they have balanced so many laws. The problem with regulating commerce is the same as with regulating religion. The government and those it regulates end up scratching each other's backs, until the lines of power are blurred. If government had no power to grant special priviledge to businesses, think how much cleaner our government would be. I doubt "Campaign Finance Reform" (i.e., an attack on the 1st amendment) would be an issue. Why bribe people who can't help you? And why become part of the government to make a buck from it, if you can't make a buck from it?

    - - - - -
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @06:24PM (#220899) Homepage
    I agree; but a treaty that causes each nation to enforce the laws of the other signatories is not a good treaty, and its product is not free trade.

    I'm all for free trade. But if I wanted to live under another country's laws, I figured I'd have to move there, rather than they would bring the law here.

    We can have trade -- even free trade -- without this kind of mess.

    - - - - -
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @05:21PM (#220900) Homepage
    Er, I mean, "never!"
    At the risk of waking up the conspiracy theorists, this is one more step towards a global government. The whole idea of treaties like this is to bind together the member governments. Treay here, treaty there, and after a while all the gaps are sewn shut.

    George Washington:
    Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice? It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world, so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But in my opinion it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.
    Internationalism -- derided as "globalism" and falsely presented as "free trade" (as opposed to "sanctioned and licensed trade", which it is), is going in exactly the direction George Washington warned against. More entangling alliances. Less sovreignty.

    - - - - -
  • What if some govt claims copyright in all it's citizens writings? And then complains that some [overseas] dissident is publishing unlawfully?

    IANAL, but Treaties (ratified by the US Senate) are on the same level as the US Constitution, so could override the First Ammendment (free speech).

    Very scary

  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @04:36AM (#220902) Homepage
    It should be that way, but isn't necessarily. Have a look at the "Supremacy Clause" [Article IV]
    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;
    Also, have a look at this [thenewamerican.com] from the UN haters.
  • Porn of 17 year olds are not legal in Amsterdam. Why do you think that? Minimum age is 18.
  • Your lack of understanding of the way the UN works is unfortunate. The UN is an inter-government body, which is made up of official representatives chosen by the (mostly) elected officials of every State. What's more, when a nation Signs and Ratifies a treaty, it is promising within a certain time frame to make its own laws that are compatible with, and express the intent of, that Treaty. What the UN _doesn't_ do is make laws for countries. It can be argued that certain UN treaties which are widely accepted and enforced by national governments have the effect of international law, but it is incorrect to suggest that the UN in any way violates the sovreignty of any country, EXCEPT when this is decided by the Security Council -- which is made up from member governments anyway.

    Furthermore, the UN has no independent powers of enforcement, except for those specifically authorized by the Security Council, through Peace Keeping operations, which consist of national government troops (not UN troops.)

    My point is that the UN can't force any law on the USA, except and unless the USA joins and ratifies the treaty, and then passes enabling legislation to enforce the laws in their own land. What a treaty does is seek to find the level of law which is internationally acceptable to the majority of countries. Examples of where the USA has chosen to ignore treaties (even after ratifying them) include the Kyoto accord and parts of the WTO (GATT.) The USA will always pursue its own economic self interest--without exception.
    --
    Paul Gillingwater

  • "There really ought to be a section of politically aware sites like /. devoted to upcoming events where people can participate. I know I'd be there sometimes.

    So, how about it? How many people would like to see a calendar page about upcoming political events that have significance to us? What do you think? There's a large readership here, and if only a small percentage turn out...it could be noticed. But that's just my opinion. "


    Here's one: the Independent Media Center [indymedia.org]. It's a global network of independent media groups, offering news and opinion on issues like this that the MegaMedia won't cover, including upcoming protest dates and eyewitness coverage of same. I give occasional tech assistance to the group that runs the London site.
    (NB: our Philadelphia site [phillyimc.org] uses Slash! I wouldn't mind if the London site [uk.indymedia.org] used it too!)
    </feeble-karma-hoovering-attempt>

    We need more info on actions defending Free Speech, IMHO, and we'd be delighted to receive articles, essays, and dates on actions against Copyright Barons like the ones described in this article.
    --
    JDF
  • Yes, and a lot of it is also crap. Why would I want my tax dollars going towards that?
    --
    OliverWillis.Com [oliverwillis.com]
  • IAL, US and a specializing in international law.

    The bottom line is that, as a matter of what law applies in the United States, the Constitution trumps all laws and treaties enacted by the various branches of government.

    As a general matter, modern treaties signed and ratified by the U.S. do not have any direct effect on U.S. domestic law. Instead, signing a treaty creates an international obligation of the United States, not of its citizens. In other words, the U.S. goverment has to answer to the government of Freedonia when the treaty isn't respected by a US citizen. But that doesn't mean the US citizen has to respect the treaty.

    For a treaty to have domestic impact, there must usually be some form of implementing legislation or regulation. I'm sure we all know that US courts will strike down legislation and regulations that conflict with the requirements of the Constitution (as they interpret it).

    There is the rare "self-executing" treaty, which has the force of law upon ratification by the U.S. government. But it has been decided that those treaties are also subservient to the Constitution. The undecided issue is whether those treaties outrank Acts of Congress.

    On topic: the patent and copyright provisions of the Constitution say very little, and say it vaguely. A U.S. court would almost certainly follow whatever policy the rest of the U.S. government set on intellectual property, except where it violates explicit provisions of the Bill of Rights. For example, freedom of speech and freedom of religion will be protected. But so will the property rights under the 5th Amendment (no property shall be taken without just compensation). To the extent that people have established intellectual property rights under the current regime, any change that takes those rights away may well require compensation from the U.S. treasury.

  • Piracy is anti-competative in that a pirated copy of Windows (to use an example) could be blocking a copy of Linux just as easily as it could be blocking a licen$ed copy of Window$.

    Crap. A pirated copy of Windows isn't "blocking" anything. Users install Windows if they want Windows, and Linux if they want Linux. Piracy just gives them a wider range of options, by allowing them to choose software that they can't afford to license.

    Piracy is competition - Microsoft offers you Office for $50, w4r3z d00dz offer you the same product for the price of a CDR. If Microsoft gets out-competed, tough shit. Yes, they invested a lot of money to develop the software. But that doesn't give them a "right" to make a profit - try applying that principle to another industry to see how absurd it is. Does your local convenience store have a "right" to stop your local supermarket from selling food, just because the supermarket's undercutting them? Of course not. The convenience store might have invested a lot of money in food that isn't selling. Tough shit.

    Piracy is raw competition, and if there's one thing that corporations hate, it's competition.

  • I don't agree that pirates steal information. When you steal, you gain something by depriving someone else of that thing. When you copy information, you gain something without depriving anyone of anything (except the ability to make a profit from that information, and the ability to make a profit should not be a protected "right").

    Unless I have signed an agreement saying that I will not do so, I think I have the right to copy any information in my possession.

    Anyone can undersell someone else if they do not have to pay for the product they are selling and the other guy has to.

    True. That's why, without laws that distort the market by preventing competition, it would be almost impossible to run a business based on selling information. (Although individual artists might make a living selling information, by depending on the goodwill and honesty of their audience.)

  • Unfortunately, the world has changed considerably since George's time. Back then interaction between continents was extremely limited due to its cost. Now we have almost instantaneous transmission of information, and transfer of huge amounts of goods.

    Without international trade treaties, less trade would occur due to protectionism, distrust and lack of standards. Trade should be encouraged because it (usually) helps both parties. Imagine life with no coffee, no cheap taiwanese memory chips or no petroleum.

    This is in fact a classic case of the prisoner's dilemma - individually, countries would inhibit trade to protect themselves against bad behaiviour. But if parties have an agreement and stick to it they can both benefit far more.

    It also follows from this that such agreements must be formulated very carefully and responsibly. In this case the real number of affected parties includes everyone on earth. We can all benefit, or we can all suffer.

  • by BierGuzzl ( 92635 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @04:06PM (#220911)
    ... then copyright everything in existence and demand that royalties be paid to you. Imagine what sealand [sealandgov.com] could do with this!
  • Its nice that everyone got together to talk about the issues, but its not like the author's view that they were sitting down to write the magna carta of cyberspace. They were sitting down to discuss a treaty proposal the big boys have written.

    Its probably going to be a long time (perhaps even after hell freezes over) before we could get most of the world to recognize everyone's copyright laws. I wouldn't hold my breath for this one...

  • Someone please mod the parent post up.

    This is the essence of police state, not to brually enforce laws that don't make sense, but to instead create large masses of senseless laws and *optionally* enforce them.

  • Whoa, Nellie!

    The Federal Government is a government of limited, enumerated powers. The copyright clause does have a "limited time" requirement. However, Congress also has a power to regulate international commerce. It is not at all clear that congress could not use its commerce powers to accomplish the same goal. In fact, it is not at all clear that Congress could not create a domestic perpetual copyright using commerce clause powers. After all, that is precisely how the government has implemented (potentially) perpetual rights for trademarks.

    Certainly, there are positive limits on federal government power, mostly in the Bill of Rights, reverse incorporation doctrine, yada, yada.

    We already, pursuant to the Berne Convention, give foreign copyrights better treatment than domestic ones. For example, we don't require registration of foreign copyrights to initiate a copyright lawsuit.

    Sure, the power of the purse does come into it. Witness our current non-payment of UN dues.

  • 1981??? how 'bout 1984.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @04:19PM (#220916) Homepage
    The solution being proposed to that is threefold:
    • Cripple the technology so that only large-scale commercial pirates can make copies. (CSS, encrypted monitors, restricted DVD blanks, etc.)
    • Find the commercial pirates. (Private investigators and law enforcement funded by the Business Software Alliance, Software Publishers Association, RIAA, etc.)
    • Lean on countries to shut down the commercial pirates by using trade sanctions (the TRIPS agreement).

    It's working, too. There's an annual report on compliance with the TRIPS agreement [ustr.gov] describing countries that the US is putting the screws on for not being tough enough on content piracy.

  • The calendar page idea is a good one. A whole slashsite devoted to this kind of stuff would be good too. There could be sections for all of the various political inclinations.

  • And my point is that, if the "creator" chooses to waive those rights, then those rights vanish and no one should profit from those copyrights anymore. The copyright is then expired, as whatever it is should then be a part of society, in which case it should be allowed to be freely duplicated and distributed.
  • Which, as I said, is wrong. The publisher or anyone other than the creator did NOT create whatever entity it is, so has no right to own the copyright.
  • Copyrights should only belong to the person(s) responsible for whatever the copyright is being held. If the correct owner/guardian/who-the-hell-ever can not be found, there is no copyright.

    This is a very thin sketch of an idea, and I lack the knowledge necessary to expand too much further on it. Would the brilliant readers of slashdot care to help me out a bit?

  • I wouldn't just roll over when they're trying to pass the global DMCA. It doesn't matter to me that the pirate shops in China will be able to stay open. What's important is that a law like this will be used for evil purposes by corporations that can't see beyond the dollar signs dancing in front of their eyes. "Here, RIAA, take some ammunition so you can go bully foreign countries into doing your bidding. It's okay, because we'll still have China." Does that make much sense?
  • by Scrag ( 137843 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @03:46PM (#220923)
    Sure they can make IP laws all over the world. What is the chance that they will be enforced everywhere? Zero. In some Asian countries practically everything you can buy is pirated. They have copyright laws, but they aren't enforced. People would see these and say "Hey another stupid unenforceable law." They would then continue selling pirated Win2k CDs.
    My opinion - Don't worry too much.
  • George Washington also railed against political parties in his fairwell address. Those haven't exactly been a thorn in America's side now have they?

    Um... they haven't? Either you don't live in America, or you don't vote.

    The limitations of our two party system and electoral college are some of the worst legacies of American politics.

  • by kalifa ( 143176 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @06:27PM (#220925)
    Dammit!

    Dear Roblio, dear /.ers:

    For the 15340398th time: the Yahoo! ruling has nothing to do with the French government. The French justice is completely independent from the government. In this specific ruling, a bunch of bigots have found a sympathetic judge who has a very peculiar and twisted interpretation of French (mild) laws on racial hatred.

    It's amazing how this kind of misinformation can be resilient.

    And, BTW, at least the French did not force Yahoo! to remove their porn videos pages, but others oh-so-free did...
  • For profit films are mostly not art

    Maybe you might not consider them such, but most do. An objet d'Art is what you like. A grose monstrosity is what you don't. Like it or lump it, NFB & Telefilm shows don't even make good filler for the "We're having technical difficulty" signs because most people would rather watch nothing than a crudely drawn carton trumpet (literally) on about nothing... Here's some of your tax dollars at work:

    • Skullduggery [telefilm.gc.ca] - Ah yes, tasteful production at it's best.
    • How much for a half kilo? [telefilm.gc.ca] - A plot so riveting it takes as many as 38 words to describe it.
    • Virtual mom [telefilm.gc.ca] - Following in the footsteps of great classics like Big, Vice Versa, and Freaky Friday.
    • When ponds freeze over [telefilm.gc.ca] - I hope they make this into a feature length film.

    The best part is, you have to actually PAY [telefilm.gc.ca] to see those movies. They aren't even totally free because this is Telefilm Canada, not the NFB! Yes, my Canadian freinds, you helped PAY for it, you INVESTED in it, and now you get to PAY again. Kinda like surtax. Such fun I haven't seen!

  • Made sense to me.
  • if you are a U.S. citizen who wants to get in touch with the people representing you at the next Hague Convention meeting (in June)

    Does anyone have a list of the members from other countries? Canada? UK? Oz? etc??

  • by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @04:51PM (#220929) Journal
    of a government-controlled film industry obviously is enough to make any right-thinking person want to see all possible copyright protection added to every possible intellectual property treaty.

    Faced with this potential evil


    Im not sure what you mean but:

    I am Canadian. I am happy and proud that Canada's National Film Board [www.nfb.ca] and CRTC [crtc.gc.ca] exist to assist film makers and artists create their works. Art and film is valuable to a healthy culture and should be publicly supported. For profit films are mostly not art - they would be profit vehicles first, creative works second.
  • Nowhere in the site could I find the date for this convention.

    I work in Den Haag (quite nearby the place where it will take place) and I would find it interesting to go take a look if the discussions were public. (And maybe hand in some fliers with the top 100 reasons why this proposal shouldn't be enforced).

  • At one time we had that law - "to promote the progress of science and the useful arts, by securing for limited times to AUTHORS and INVENTORS the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." Hmmm, I wonder what happened. Probably some publisher said, 'we don't need to worry about what that old part of the Constitution says, publishers are the ones who really should own those copyrights - and they also should last forever. We can even say this whole thing is to benefit the authors, I'm sure the Public will buy that."

    On this one, those people representing the U.S. to the Hague Convention, and all of the politians in Washington need to see, first hand, the Slashdot Effect. Write, email, whatever - don't let them take away the rest of your rights to creations that should be destined for the Public Domain.
  • but there is a difference between what is a right and what is simply legal or illegal. Rights (in the US) are spelled out in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights -- everything else may be legal or illegal, but not a "right".

    Your supermarket example doesn't match the Microsoft example, because in the case above, the pirate is selling something acquired illegally (even if they bought it, they are forbidden by license to redistribute it). M$ doesn't have a "right" to make a profit -- but they have the law on their side when it comes to piracy.

    Similarly, in the case of the supermarket, of course the convenience does not have a "right" to stop the supermarket from selling food -- but if the supermarket STOLE the food from the convenience store (or otherwise obtained the food illegally), the the convenience store would have LEGAL recourse against the supermarket.

    Piracy is not competition. Anyone can undersell someone else if they do not have to pay for the product they are selling and the other guy has to.

  • I'm actually starting law school this Fall -- the school I will be going to actually has an international hgh tech property program to go along with its high tech intellectual property program and international program.

    The right time indeed.

  • The creator doesn't waive his rights, he sells them to the publisher. If a creator wanted to waive his rights he's free to do so, of course, but a publsiher is actually buying the copyright from the creator.
  • except that I patented revolts, so you're not allowed.. nyah nyah! :P..
  • woo woo, clue train coming your way! The article is about COPYRIGHT, it said nothing about PATENTS.
  • Not everybody has the luxuries of both Internet access and free time to worry about such things. We're only able to think about them because our basic needs are already met. If you had to worry about paying the electric bill because you didn't know where your next paycheck was coming from and you had to take your son to the doctor (sans health insurance), would you worry about what a bunch of suits in Washington thought about things on paper that you couldn't see?
  • Jussim ... stated that if movies or even pieces of them were distributed online or through other means not approved by the movie companies, the entire industry would eventually shut down ...

    These people don't realize just how unecessary they are to the world ;-) Various industries have come and gone through history, why not this overpriced, fat cat infested, tax loop hole subsidized, silly, and uncreative one?

    Do they think that 100,000 people with digital editing suites (how many installations of those kinds of programs are out there I wonder), and next generation video cameras can't produce their own entertainment? Rap music performers did as much with less equipment. Now that I think of it why are there 3 or 4 big studios and not 500,000 small ones. Small restaurants seem to be able to cook and prepare food that is often better than many multinational chains; is it impossible that the same conditions might obtain in movie production?

    Since the industry is so uncreative that half of its product consists in remaking foreign films in American English, ripping off independent film makers or filming the same story over and over (4 movies about comets destroying the earth; 4 movies about invasions from outer space; 4 movies about *humorous* invasions from outer space ... and on and on ...) who would really miss it?

  • Wow, was that melodramatic for you enough? Not to mention incoherent. Sorry slashdot.
  • Let it come. Let the proverbial shackles clasp around the ankles of currently free people. Tyrants can't stand forever; the natural state of man is to be free. If worse comes to worse and the shit hits the fan, people will wake up and revolt. A little revolution once in awhile is good for a society, it's just that, until now, all the revolutions and potential revolutions in the US have happened peacefully.
  • Believe it or not, I support the Green Party more than any other, yet I still think political parties have a tremendously positive effect on American democracy. Imagine a presidential race without parties. Yep, kind of like a high school election - just a popularity contest. That's why George Washington was the first president. Not that he wasn't terribly effective, but he certainly didn't get much accomplished then did he? Couldn't figure out how to tax. Let his cabinet do all the work (Hamilton took care of the debt, etc). Political parties give people distinct ideological choices (well, not so much any more with centralist politics, but what can you do) that they need. Even in a two party system, one can still die. Heck, the democrats seem to be fading pretty quickly at the moment. Hopefully, their fear of the Greens will force them to take a more liberal stance infuse America with some good old political passion. We all know the Democrats will never be as conservative as the Republicans, and at the moment that's what the voters want. They will either go back left or perish. It doesn't work to pretend to be conservative.

    Basically, a party system is a given in democracy as far as we have known through history. The only "democracies" without parties are those that have the same president elected over and over because there is too much competition without the same name recognition. I do think that the current parties are abusing their power with campaign finance structures (public funding would fix this) and in the congressional rules committees. Basically, both of them are making laws that insure that their two parties will remain in power eternally. This needs to be brought to the public attention. This is what the Green Party references when it blames the "two-party system" ... not the institution of political parties as a whole. If they were really against political parties, they'd join the anarchist party (rather ironic that that exists, but what the hell).
  • by zhensel ( 228891 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @07:35PM (#220944) Homepage Journal
    George Washington also railed against political parties in his fairwell address. Those haven't exactly been a thorn in America's side now have they? The barriers to legislation added by political parties (as well as the ability to narrow things down to definite choices) have undoubtedly aided the growth of America.

    A single unitary globe may not be the answer, yet, but in a world where communication is instant and transportation is approaching the same level, we can't exactly act on George Washington's advice. Isolationism worked wonders between WWI and WWII eh? Oh wait, a Great Depression and an exodus of American artistic talent. I forgot all abou that. There once was a contingent that fought for state sovreignty, but like national isolationism, it failed. Hell, "federalism" as we know it is a joke. Education is one of the few areas where states reign supreme and it's a mess. Claiming that nations won't one day be as close as the United States are now is ignorance. You could point to unreconcilable differences between certain nations, but I can just as easily point to the conflict between Kansas and Missouri that ended as interstate cooperation increased. I'm nearly as liberal as they come, but it's hard to support unrelenting isolationism.
  • Regardless of the legitimacy ore reasonableness of copyright law, It's truly ineffective if it isn't adopted worldwide. I'm neither promoting nor critisizing the current state of legislation, but it's useless without worldwide standardization.

    --CTH

    --
  • I think that the idea will to add additional pressure to countries to enforce such laws.

    While I do worry about the loss of sovereignty to the other countries (of course, they do not have to sign the treaty...) I am in favor of cracking down on software piracy in particular. Piracy is anti-competative in that a pirated copy of Windows (to use an example) could be blocking a copy of Linux just as easily as it could be blocking a licen$ed copy of Window$. THe more emplasis on enforcing the copyright laws, the better chance Linux has of taking the markets abroad and here in the US. (China is a great example of this, BTW-- 90% of the OSs sold are pirated copies of Windows, and of the legit OSs, 99.5% are Linux...).

    That being said, DMCA is a bad law and poses a significant threat to computer security, fair use, and other issues in the mid to long term. I hope that other countries are not so sheepish as not to stand up against this one. Also, what right do we have to force other countries to adopt our policies? What right do we have to pretend to be the sovereigns of the globe?

  • Actually, when it comes to copyright law, all consumers have traditionally been underrepresented. Copyright law is usually created by representatives of various industries with a compelling interest in copyright law getting together and agreeing on a set of rights, pivileges, and exemptions that make all of them happy. This is great for the industries represented, but for those left out ( the average consumer, for example ), this means that they usually get more restrictions on what they can and cannot do with copyrighted material (the scope of fair use) with no exemptions for them (most copyright laws have exemptions put in to keep a particular industry happy--these exemptions are narrow in scope and would not apply to the average consumer)

    Without a major overhaul of the system, copyright law will always seek to maximize the profit of industries represented, usually minimizing the rights of the consumer. If we want to stop this trend, there needs to be some sort of consumer's bill of rights enacted that states exactly what is fair use. That way, no industry-led copyright law can restrict it further than it already is.

  • You can find a list with the member states of the Hague convention at http://www.hcch.net/e/members/members.html. There are also links to the national organization representing a member state at the convention.
  • What if a technology based on quantum entanglement is perfected that makes it impossible for anybody to eavesdrop on private peer-to-peer communication? What will the fascist governements do?

    Indeed, what will they do? Put a camera in every room in your home or apartment and/or force you to wear spook technology so they can watch your every move? If that happens, we'll all rise up and kick their collective Orwellian arses!

    The internet is your weapon. Download it all and copy it all! Demand liberty!
  • This is damn funny. Do you do stand up comedy?
  • What if a technology based on quantum entanglement is perfected that makes it impossible for anybody to eavesdrop on private peer-to-peer communication? What will the fascist governements do?

    Outlaw it, of course. If the RIAA can strangle digital audiotape technology to death in the cradle, then governments who have more power to decide legality can easily prevent the technology from coming to market.

    True but they can't stop you from using it unless they constantly spy on you. It would be like stopping people from smoking pot.
  • by MOBE2001 ( 263700 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @03:41PM (#220954) Homepage Journal
    That is all this amounts to. We should resist all laws that impinge on our freedom.

    The only way they can enforce these fascist laws to the letter is by instituting Orwellian forms of governments around the world. If that happens, we should all rise up and kick their collective Orwellian arses.

    The internet is your weapon. Copy it all and download it all!
  • by MOBE2001 ( 263700 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @06:10PM (#220955) Homepage Journal
    If it can be converted by just a handful of people to a format that can be uploaded to the internet and downloaded by tens of millions around the world, they haven't got a chance.
  • Imagine what sealand could do with this! Of course, first Sealand had better get the British patent on "acquiring territory by conquest." Darn it, there seems to be prior art...
  • Usually when a movie goes straight to video tape, it means it did poorly in the movie theatres because IT SUCKED! So if the movie industry doesn't want to worry about people copying their movies at all, don't release it on videotape, DVD, etc. Of course, they make less money that way, but that's really the argument here, right? Why isn't the movie industry making even more money than they're already making? Boo-hoo for them. I believe even the movie set boy grips and other 'go-get-this' slaves make more than the average American. I doubt their 'need' to make even more money off their 'works' is justifiable.

    And as for art, I have seen some government sponsored art projects in my own city of Dublin, OH (the cornfield for those of you from Columbus, OH), that truly SUCK! I sure wouldn't have paid for art like it, but apparently my local government thinks it was a good idea. (BTW - I've never heard anyone say how they thought this local art was 'art', but rather just laughter at the ridiculous waste of money that it is).

    Copyright is a good thing for the small guy. It's a bad thing when in the hands of the big boys because it's used as the club of intellectual bludgeoning. Having said that, copyright law is now outdated and needs reworked, or restricted to use by individuals alone, not for use by corps. My $3,000 would barely hire one lawyer to fight a corp with millions at its disposal when fighting for my IP rights these days.

    • would you worry about what a bunch of suits in Washington thought about things on paper that you couldn't see

    True, but every time a government gets away with making a decision that benefits a few CEO's to the detriment of We the People, they get the message that it's OK to take kickbacks in preference to caring about you, or your electric bill or healthcare. After we're properly screwed on the circusses, then they'll start on the bread.

  • Well, I guess I'll have to add "intellectual property" to my list of words and phrases that have had their original meaning diminished through incorrect usage.

    1. Intellectual Property

    2. Innovation

    3. Proactive

    4. Closure

    5. Empowered

    I'll forever equate the first two with "theft of another's ideas". The third really doesn't exist as a legitimate word. The fourth and fifth are pure Californiisms, usually seen only on late night TV paid programming for psychic hotlines.

  • Noone talks about this, but to me the difference between intellectual property and CopyRight is quite crucial That is, in France at least, the author of a work of art has IP over his work ; this is unsellable, so that for all of his life he'll keep some control over his work. Thus, movies/books/records aren't owned by Big Corporations but single artists. The lobbies aren't as big anymore, and the need to push IP up to eternity is much lower. I hear in the states, the length of IP after ones death is typically the time that has passed since Walt Disney's death...
  • by RWarrior(fobw) ( 448405 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @03:42PM (#220971)
    ... to consider that most peoples' interest are pretty narrow: The price of electricity, the price of gas, where their next paycheck will come from. Maybe they worry about taking their kids to the doctor when they get sick. Other than that, they don't really care about much.

    ... and when they came for me, there was no one left to complain.

  • by pagsz ( 450343 ) <pagsz81@yahoo.com> on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @04:00PM (#220972) Journal
    All I can say about this is that I hope that a sensible copyright scheme comes out of this. No more bullshit like the DMCA. Copyrights may be necessary, but there are limitations. Otherwise groups like the RIAA and Micro$oft are left to run amok.

    Submitting a patent for idiocy,
  • Let's face it: laws and treaties like this get passed because the people in charge hear only from the big corporations. The public never has a voice, or a presence. The recent protests at a few multinational summits are a pleasant change of pace, but are the exception.

    The article makes mention that the public just aren't interested. That's untrue. There is a sizable minority of people who do care--even if it's only 1% of the public who cares at all, that's still 3 million Americans. That's a lot of people.

    The problem is, none of them has any idea when things like this happen. I think this is roughly the fourth event I've heard of on /. that I would have gone to if only I'd known about it. Sure, it was a panel discussion, not an event where audience members could officially participate, but wouldn't it have drawn some attention by the decision-makers and the Post reporter if fifty people had shown up wearing "DON'T PASS THE HAGUE CONVENTION!" buttons? Not as trouble-makers, but as well-behaved audience members who came out to make their opinions known to the reporters and others, during the breaks and what-not.

    Something like that could have happened. Likewise, the protest against the DMCA that happened a long while back, where a disappointing 20 people showed up, could have been a major event. Why wasn't it? No one knew.

    I could have come, and I'm sure there are others here who would have been glad to make a great turn-out. But instead of telling us beforehand, Slashdot whines about it after. I mean, come on! There are a lot of people who read this site who could take half a day or a day off every once in a while to participate in issues like this. But "News for Nerds" only tells us things that have already happened, complaining about how no one cares. Well, if they'd tell us a week beforehand, we could actually be there to participate.

    There really ought to be a section of politically aware sites like /. devoted to upcoming events where people can participate. I know I'd be there sometimes.

    So, how about it? How many people would like to see a calendar page about upcoming political events that have significance to us? What do you think? There's a large readership here, and if only a small percentage turn out...it could be noticed. But that's just my opinion.

    Chasing Amy
    (We all chase Amy...)
  • ...to start studying IT law. If agreements like this are passed into International Law, it could make my JD/LLM program 4 years instead of three. Not would you have to learn the intracices of US intellectual property, copyright, and cyberspace law, but the laws, rules and regulations of the other major players world-wide. Looks like I'll be holed up in a library from now until 2004.
  • by Freija Crescent ( 452135 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2001 @04:31PM (#220976) Homepage Journal
    I should claim that the 3-d array defined by a 320x240x256 containing (256)^76800 records is MY intellectual property and copyright the formula defining it, as it will contain ALL possible images in the 320x240 by 256 color domain. Thus i could merely plug in a value and get a still image from the movie "The Matrix" or better yet define a set of records to represent any and every movie ever conceived. Suddenly I own the rights to all video imagery.
    Sure, it's absurd, but you know someone is going to try pulling something like that.

    Slashdot.org, the DDoS of the GNU Generation.
  • I'm living in Europe right now and developing software. I'm very concerned about US Software Patent law making it over here.

    This old article [slashdot.org] indicates that we may be in for a shock in a few months. I dont fancy the DMCA either.

    I think the USA wouldnt be too worried about such things because you at least have a consitution where, in theory, a private citizen can overturn a law which violates it. In Europe, we'd have no such recourse against oppressive foreign governments.

    However, since the US consitution would come first, regardless of any international treaty, that would allow the US to get "off the hook" with any foreign enforcement. So I wonder why any foreign government would join a treaty when the US clearly cannot enforce their side of the bargain.

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