August 24, 2012
For reasons elaborated here, here, and here (among other places), I’m very worried that the efforts of incumbent media giants to extend copyright lengths, expand “enforcement” efforts, and escalate “infringement” penalties will (further) discourage real innovation– and thus real and sustainable economic growth. That these moves are ultimately self-defeating– and kind of suicide– is certainly ironic; but it’s no consolation.
Of late there’s been some good news; consumers in the U.S. and regulators in the E.U. have said “no” to repressive (and in some cases, unconstitutionally-intrusive) grabs by the media industry: SOPA seems dead; ACTA is stalled (with luck, forever)…
But now there’s PPT- The Pan Pacific Partnership. A powerful agreement that is being secretly negotiated between 9 countries, the United States, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, and Brunei. Mexico, Canada, & Japan are in the process of joining it. The Obama Administration (which has been disappointingly complicit with the Legacy Media Agenda– see here and here, for example) is selling PTT as a trade agreement, aimed at easing commerce among the signatories. (It likely also figures into the Administration’s thinking as a balance against The ASEAN–China Free Trade Area [ACFTA], to which China is central…)
As you can see in the State Department’s pitch for the treaty, it does have some potential for encouraging smoother trade among the signatories. But as you can see in this EFF analysis, there is a pretty vicious wolf under that sheepish clothing:
…The TPP will rewrite the global rules on IP enforcement. All signatory countries will be required to conform their domestic laws and policies to the provisions of the Agreement. In the U.S. this is likely to further entrench controversial aspects of U.S. copyright law (such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s broad ban on circumventing digital locks and frequently disproprotionate statutory damages for copyright infringement) and restrict the ability of Congress to engage in domestic law reform to meet the evolving IP needs of American citizens and the innovative technology sector. The recently leaked U.S. IP chapter also includes provisions that appear to go beyond current U.S. law. This raises significant concerns for citizens’ due process, privacy and freedom of expression rights…
The details make pretty chilling reading… and when you note that, while there are (so far) only 9 signatories, the treaty will dictate the terms of any bi-lateral trade agreements that any of the 9 enter– so the the effective foot-print would be global.
Copyright– and the larger notion of intellectual property– was rightly enshrined in The Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8). But the Framers saw the importance of balance– of moderating the length and scope of protection– since their purpose was “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.” Sadly, the purpose of copyright law has, over the years; with each revision that’s made, become less about encouraging new innovation than about protecting the old, the status quo… and that is no recipe for growth.
Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.
- Mark Twain
March 17, 2012
Last December, Secretary of State Clinton delivered a rousing speech to a Conference on Internet Freedom held at the Hague in which she hammered what has become a steady theme for her over the last couple of years:
The United States wants the internet to remain a space where economic, political, and social exchanges flourish. To do that, we need to protect people who exercise their rights online, and we also need to protect the internet itself from plans that would undermine its fundamental characteristics.
Sec. Clinton has used this high-ground sentiment to bash repressive regimes, from China to Iran– all good… as far as it goes.
But beyond noting that the focus on repression is painfully selective (e.g., no criticism of Saudi Arabia), the U.S. government is behaving in just the way that Mrs. Clinton condemns: even as her rhetoric rings “freedom blue”– State and the rest of the government has pushed repressive treaties like ACTA and domestic legislation like SOPA and PIPA, any/all of which threaten free speech (and promise to retard innovation).
…Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.
But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”…
Read the full article– and you should read the full article– here.