03.15.09

It’s Not a Democracy, It’s ACTAtorship

Posted in America, Europe, Law, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 7:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The reign of imaginary entities

Authorised personnel sign

Summary: The United States denies access to ACTA documents/negotiations whereas the EU softens a little

IN PREVIOUS writings about the ACTA, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18], we showed how it relates to our focus on software patents and the general neglect of human rights, part of which relates to relentless attempts to ban Free(dom) software. Microsoft is not the only party which is interested in this, but it is the main aggressor and Novell helps this. To quote a comment from last night, “I dont worry about Novell distributing as much as them infecting Gnome through their heavy use of mono which is now an integral part of applications like Evolution.

“Microsoft is not the only party which is interested in this, but it is the main aggressor and Novell helps this.”“All of Novell’s excemptions dont apply to other other developers/distros so in a way, when Microsoft comes bearing down on the stolen IP in Mono, and they will, it wont be because of the code Novell developers will have contributed it but the ones who are not covered by the patent.”

But anyway, the subject of this post is neither Novell nor Microsoft but something a lot broader and more far reaching. It demonstrates a more political issue that we complained about before, namely the rule of corporations in what ought to have been a society which is managed by ethical guidelines, not the unconstrained interests of affluent shareholders.

As further sign of degrading law and the crisis of ‘western’ societies (return to feudalism or police states), consider this reluctance to be transparent, courtesy of a president who bragged about openness.

Obama Administration Rules Texts of New IPR Agreement are State Secrets

[...]

We have been seeking access to documents relating to negotiations on an important new intellectual property enforcement treaty. The agreement, misleadingly named the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, is thought to cover a wide range of intellectual property enforcement issues — including standards for granting injunctions for alleged infringement of patents or copyrights, damages, seizures of goods in transit, surveillance of Internet digital file transfers, searches of personal property, and a dozen other topics.

Wired Magazine even used a derogatory image, which it put up at the top.

President Barack Obama came into office in January promising a new era of openness.

But now, like Bush before him, Obama is playing the national security card to hide details of the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement being negotiated across the globe.

The White House this week declared (.pdf) the text of the proposed treaty a “properly classified” national security secret, in rejecting a Freedom of Information Act request by Knowledge Ecology International.

[...]

If ratified, leaked documents posted on WikiLeaks and other comments suggest the proposed trade accord would criminalize peer-to-peer file sharing, subject iPods to border searches and allow internet service providers to monitor their customers’ communications.

TechDirt claims:

When the Obama administration took over, there was a public stance that this administration was going to be more transparent — especially with regards to things like Freedom of Information Act requests. The nonprofit group Knowledge Ecology International took that to heart and filed an FOIA request to get more info on ACTA. The US Trade Representative’s Office responded denying the request, saying that the information was “classified in the interest of national security pursuant to Executive Order 12958.” This is a treaty about changing copyright law, not sending missiles somewhere. To claim that it’s a national security matter is just downright scary. As KEI points out, the text of the documents requested have been available to tons of people, including more than 30 governments around the world and lobbyists from the entertainment industry, pharma industry and publishing industry.

Obama and Biden are part of a bigger framework and this very recent presentation from professor Lawrence Lessig (scroll to bottom) is worth watching for further details.

Check out this document and a list of involved parties. According to the list, those with a representative involved in the ACTA are Abbott Laboratories, Inc., AbleMedia LLC, Advanced Medical Technology Association, AeA: Advancing the Business of Technology, Alvarez & Marsal, LLC, American Association of Exporters and Importers, American Chemistry Council, American Council of Life Insurers, American Council of Life Insurers, American Council on Education, American Hotel and Lodging Association ,American International Group, Inc., American National Standards Institute ,American Society of Civil Engineers, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., Applied Materials, Inc., Arjay Telecommunications, Association of American Publishers, Inc., BOSE Corporation, Braden Sutphin Ink Company, Center for Quality Assurance in International Education, CF Industries, Inc., Chemtura Corporation, Cisco Systems, Inc., Citigroup Inc., Color Pigments Manufacturers Association, Inc., Computing Technology Industry Association, Cook Group Incorporated, CropLife America, Deloitte and Touche USA LLP, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, eBay Inc., Eli Lilly and Company, Emergency Committee for American Trade, Energy Associates, Entertainment Software Association, Fanwood Chemical, Inc., FedEx Express, FMC Corporation, General Motors Corporation, General Motors Corporation, Generic Pharmaceutical Association, Gorlin Group [the], Gowan Company ,Harkins Cunningham, LLP, Harris Corporation, Haynes and Boone, L.L.P., Hemisphere Polymer and Chemical Company, Inc., Honeywell International, Inc., IBM Corporation, Independent Film & Television Alliance, Intel Corporation , Intellectual Property Owners Association, Intermune, Inc., International Intellectual Property Alliance, Intuit Inc., Investment Company Institute, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Inc., Micron Technology, Inc., Milliken Chemical, Monsanto Company, Motion Picture Association of America, Inc., National Foreign Trade Council, Inc., National Nursing Centers Consortium, National Paint & Coatings Associatio , New York Life Insurance Company, North Coast Medical Equipment, Inc., Oracle Corporation, Pfizer Inc. ,Philadelphia International Medicine, Procter & Gamble Company, Prudential Financial, Inc., Public Policy Software and Information Industry Association, Recording Industry Association of America, Advanced Micro Devices, Rubber Manufacturers Association, S.C.Johnson & Son, Inc., SACMA, Schering-Plough Corporation, Semiconductor Industry Association, Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc., Sotomayor & Associates, LLP, Stryker Corporation, Sun Microsystems, Inc., Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association, The American Institute of Architects, The American Waterways Operators, The Boeing Company, The Dow Chemical Company, The Fertilizer Institute, The Louis Berger Group, Inc., The McGraw-Hill Companies, The U.S.-China Business Council, Thomas G. Faria Corporation, Time Warner Inc., Transaction Network Services, Inc., Troy Corporation, U.S. Coalition of Service Industries, United States Council for International Business, UPS International Public Affairs, Verizon Communications Inc., Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Wilbur Smith Associates, Wiley Rein LLP, and XSelData.

By contrast, the European Parliament does not so religiously hide the documents anymore. In fact, according to professor Michael Geist from Canada, transparency will increase and maybe because of public pressure.

The European Parliament has voted for a proposal to bring more transparency and public access to documents. The resolution includes specific language about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. In particular, it states:

Acting in accordance with Article 255(1) of the EC Treaty, the European Commission should immediately make all documents related to the ongoing international negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) publicly available.

Saint PatrickTransparency is one thing, but to what degree can the public (the ‘little people’) get involved? These are very predatory laws and they are being passed without public inquiry, let alone visibility. This may indicate that there is a lot to hide.

Commissioner Charlie McCreevy [1, 2, Patents Roundup: Microsoft Sued, Health Care Weighs in, McCreevy Denounced] has been one of the biggest proponents of maximising intellectual monopolies in Europe. With some shuffles in the European Commission coming, hopefully he will be out.

Saint Patrick’s Day is approaching and we previously showed the possible relations between Charlie McCreevy (in Ireland) and Microsoft.

“The people of the States now confederated…..believed that to remain longer in the Union would subject them to continuance of a disparaging discrimination, submission to which would be inconsistent with their welfare, and intolerable to a proud people. They therefore determined to sever its bounds and established a new Confederacy for themselves.”

Jefferson Davis

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2 Comments

  1. Zac said,

    March 15, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Gravatar

    Obama is offering change. He is doing the best he can, and even the ‘little’ he is doing the corporations, media, and finance sectors are trying to bring him down. The list you wrote above, take a look at it. Do you honestly think in the real world that Obama will be able to go against all those corporations, not too mention his own colleagues? So I don’t blame Obama in this. The real target are the corporations, they are ones who run America, and unfortunately influence the rest of the world.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 15, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Gravatar

    Yes, I agree. I wasn’t disputing this. Also see the Lessig talk I pointed at.

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