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Harm From The Hague 215

Posted by michael
from the same-treaty-process-that-gave-us-the-DMCA dept.
wfrp01 writes: "Richard Stallman has posted a new essay entitled Harm from the Hague, which presents his take on international enforcement of extra-national court decisions. 'The Hague treaty is not actually about patents, or about copyrights, or about censorship, but it affects all of them. It is a treaty about jurisdiction, and how one country should treat the court decisions of another country. ... Or suppose you publish a parody. If it is read in Korea, you could be sued there, since Korea does not recognize a right to parody.'"
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Harm from the Hague

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  • by hyehye (451759)
    No, really, I don't care what international law says - my work is my own, unless I release it. But unless someone is deliberately making money by deliberately robbing my idea/work, I won't care anyway.
  • This yet another Illuminati plot at a one world government! Put on your tin foil hats folks because we're in for a bump ride!
  • by somethingwicked (260651) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:20AM (#157058)
    This only proves...

    YOU GOTTA FIGHT...FOR YOUR RIGHT...TO PARODY!!!!

    Enter cranked guitar effects as necessay...

  • It seems to me that the UN and all the world governance crap needs to go. Their only true usefulness is to keep the peace between countries, so leave the Security Council in place. Other than that, screw them.

    *The UN is bad, mmkay. :)
  • Or, at least, I hope it won't. US Corporations would want this ratified so that they could go after patent-breakers in other countries, but how will they feel when other countries' governments go after them? That'll end it sooner than you can say "capitalism".
  • This article is frightening in that you can publish something legal here, and face litigation in some country you've never been to. Does this mean that anyone who publishes some sort of derivative work need to research the pertinent laws from all other member countries?

    This is stifling creativity and the spread of ideas at its finest.
  • We live in REALLY interesting times. For the first time, it is possible to share and communicate huge amounts of information with others anywhere in the world.

    Fact is, we are only beginning to deal with this on an international scope. It is entirely conceivable that within the next few decades the major powers of the world will become more and more entwined, until there is little difference between the citizens of the United States, Japan, France.

    Soon it may not matter much whether you are Canadian or Dutch, because the laws that affect you daily will be commonly shared across borders.

  • This, I suppose, will cause a worldwide shortage of lawyers, thereby increasing demand and pay for lawyers. It will also increase the tedium in the law profession (how many jobs devoted to knowing the laws of all rinky-dink-Hague-members?), and thereby the purported excitement of law in Hollywood shows. Soon we shall see enless gun battles and car chases among lawyers in lawyer shows.
    --
  • by mwalker (66677) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:26AM (#157064) Homepage
    Scenario:

    German company A patents process "bob" in Germany. American company B patents process "bob" in America. B sues A for patent infringement in America, and wins, enforcing it in Germany against B. B sues A in Germany for patent infrigment and wins, enforcing it in America against A.

    The end result: no one can use process "bob", and they both go out of business.

    This sounds like a great idea to me, bring it on.

    I particularly like Stallman's idea of "shopping for laws", where corporations find countries who will sell anything (cough christmas island, tonga, .cx, .tv) pass laws such as justifiable homicide in response to corporate espionage, or maybe patenting the entire idea of the telephone, or making it illegal to register a domain name.

    When the first American gets cained in Pancake Ohio in the town square because they were sued in Singapore for spitting gum on the sidewalk, the fit is gonna hit the shan.

    I can't wait.
  • You forget that the US multinationals behind this have more money than many (most?) of those governments, and can easily buy off their pols and judges.
    --
  • It won't be long until a world government is formed. Some bastarized hybrid of the UN, the EU, and other organizations will eventually take over for the purpose of "clarifying" matters of international jurisdiction, among other things. If you've been paying attention over the past few years, you've probably seen it coming.

    The world of the future will have international laws that override local ones, international courts to interpret the law, international economic unions to do "what is best for the world" (instead of for a person's native country), international military forces (the UN's working on this), an international police force (i.e., the United States), and a council of probably-unelected international leaders who are concerned about "the greater good."

    What gets lost? Individual rights and community rights. Americans will no longer be able to act as Americans, because of how it might affect a Korean, a Swede, a South African or a New Zealander.

    I don't know about you, but I'm not looking forward to it.

  • Well, everybody on earth needs to have "Western Values" -- Commerce!
  • Not gonna work - it will end up being used only for laws shared by two countries.

    what happens when pasta and antipasta collide in your stomach??
  • So, sovreignty of nations no longer applies? My laws extend beyond my recognized national boundries?

    Can I just say that, for the record, this is the most misguided hunk of trash ever pushed in the UN? Thank you.

  • What gets lost? Individual rights and community rights. Americans will no longer be able to act as Americans, because of how it might affect a Korean, a Swede, a South African or a New Zealander.

    I don't know about you, but I'm not looking forward to it.

    If you like McDonald's hamburgers, you can get excited. Oh, wait, that's already happened. Can it get worse?
    --

  • by Anonymous Coward
    They're just going to love this. Of course, it is made simply to make things harder for small business; only big-business has the resources for such daft schemes.
  • The UN is just a means of making treaties (which governments have to do anyway) and denying responsibility (which committees are created to do anyway). Not all that much would change if the UN went away, except some things would become harder and more expensive.

    Not that this would be all bad, but the bad things should become harder and more expensive and the good things should become cheaper and easier. E.g., the UN should have voting restrictions based on the nature of the member government; dictatorships shouldn't be able to vote on many (most?) items. It should also have strict limits on the nature of the measures it's allowed to take, a la the prohibitions in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States but without the loopholes.
    --

  • What it boils down to is, "in case of conflict between two countries' laws, the most severe one takes precedence". This is absolutely insane, and will only contribute to widespread contempt of the very concept of Law.
  • Get rid of the Security Council first.

    It was because of the UN Security Council that the aid mission of the US, Asia and Europe in Somalia turned into a "nation building" mission. A nation building mission that got alot of US, Pakistani, and Somali fighters and civilians killed.

    It was because the UN didn't want to interfere in Bosnia back in '94-'95 that so many civilians were killed.

    In my mind, the UN is just as bad as the League of Nations, unable to do anything right.

    Keep the Economic and Social Council, and International Court of Justice. But do away with the military and security aspects of it.
  • It all boils down to which precedence does the treaty receive, compared with your local constitution and local law.

    For instance, if your local country grants you the right to parody, can the treaty take that away because other country does not recognize this right?

    IANAL, but normally traties only apply as long as your constitutional rights and warranties are not breached. I suppose most countries would also give higher precedence to their local laws than to this convention.

  • I thik that everyone is over reacting. This is not what everyone is saying, it is not so you can kill people in U.S. and use some Lichenstein Law to say "I didn't kill him". This treaty is so that all those countries will stop [indian-express.com] stealing [aoyama.ac.jp] our [china-icp.com] software [hindubusinessline.com].

    Now that the e-everything bubble has crashed and world has come to it's senses, software vendors are feeling the hurt.

    "Vietnam has the world's highest piracy rate at 97 per cent, China has 95 per cent"

    With numbers like that, can you blame the software business for wanting people to start paying for their products? Red China's idea of "buy the people, for the people" is great and all, but in America we have decided that you must pay for a product. And that is what this treaty is intended to do: help lawmakers get people to pay for a product.

    If they have failed to word this clearly, that is their fault, and if Stallman has blown it out of proportion - well, that is his fault. But please keep in mind that this treaty is intended to combat piracy, not create a illuminating conspiracy.

    Let's not Rush to judgement?
  • by angst_ridden_hipster (23104) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:36AM (#157077) Homepage Journal
    So do I have to put a click-through EULA on all my sites, stating that only US/EU citizens may view them without waiving their rights to sue me?

    Then if I end up parodying someone in Bourkino Faso, and they sue me for the parody, I can counter-sue for license violation? Of course, in Bourkino Faso, the penalty for parody could be a flogging, whereas a licensing violation penalty here in the US is a fine or probation.

    I guess the only way to make that scheme work is become the resident of my own autonomous, sovereign nation where I can effectively control the local laws.

    Yup. It's a big ol' mess, that's fer sure.
    bukra fil mish mish
    -
    Monitor the Web, or Track your site!
  • So, sovreignty of nations no longer applies? My laws extend beyond my recognized national boundries?

    Can I just say that, for the record, this is the most misguided hunk of trash ever pushed in the UN? Thank you.

    You know that sovereignty of nations does not exist, if you followed what what went on in Yugoslavia in 1999-2000, in Hungary in 1956, in Chekoslovakia in 1968 and 1938, in Ethiopia in 1935, in (small-country-getting-pushed-around-by-big-countr y) in (any-random-year). But I'm getting repetitious.

    If you are a small country, your sovereignty exists right now only with the indulgence of the US/NATO.
    --

  • that, according to Stallman, only the bad laws propagate, and not the good? Otherwise, couldn't I seek protection under the laws of whatever country most liberally interpreted freedom?

    Rather than this article, I'd prefer to read something written by a specialist in international law.

  • So then China's laws would end up ruling the world. Fantastic. Brilliant. You'd better hurry up and say what you want about politicians, the government, the police, and the military now. Once this brilliant vision happens, you'll be arrested and disappear for any of these 'crimes against the People'.

  • by Ian Wolf (171633) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:40AM (#157081) Homepage
    You know what you are so right. Screw the world, lets disband UNICEF, High Commission for Human Rights, High Commission for Refugees, UN Environment Programme, and Food Aid.

    The United Nations is actually fairly ineffective at preserving the peace. Just look at Kosovo and the Congo for recent examples. They were moderately successful in Bosnia, and quite effective in Timor. But. It is in their humanitarian efforts were they truly shine.

    Of course, I could be all wrong, they might be a fearsome fighting force, when they use their black helicopters, operating out of secret bases in the Pacific Northwest to take over the United States and establish a true world government.

  • by update() (217397) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:40AM (#157082) Homepage
    You know, what's funny is that for years the one voice against this sort of concession of American sovereignty was Jesse Helms. Of course, all right-thinking people denounced him for his Neanderthal beliefs since everything international had to be good. After all, we're the worst country in the world so any power we cede to foreign countries has to be a net gain, right?

    Now that it's become fashionably leftish to oppose "globalization" as mindlessly as it was once pursued, it would be nice if protesters would acknowledge Jesse for keeping the lonely faith through the '80s and '90s.

    Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

  • We don't need to fight this politically. We can fight it technologically. One word: Freenet [freenetproject.org]. You can't be sued if no one knows your real name.

    Software patents? Create an anonymous ID, digitally sign everything, build a reputation so people know they can trust your work, put any source code you want on the net. Crypto. RSA. One Click. Clients for Microsoft services. Lists of filtered words.

    Parodies? Criticism? Secrets of the Co$? Whistle-blowing? Rabble rousing? Sedition? You name it. If anyone can make your life miserable for saying something, say it with Freenet.

  • In 1908, Kipling wrote a story about the ABC, a board (not unlike ICANN) that oversaw a global communication system in the year 2000. (Details weren't perfect: the system was based on mail delivered via dirigible.) He had this to say about the ABC:

    The A.B.C., that semi-elected, semi-nominated body of a few score persons, controls the Planet. Transportation is Civilisation, our motto runs. Theoretically we do what we please, so long as we do not interfere with the traffic and all it implies. Practically, the A.B.C. confirms or annuls all international arrangements, and, to judge from its last report, finds our tolerant, humorous, lazy little Planet only too ready to shift the whole burden of public administration on its shoulders.

    Yes, I have been accused of being a conspiracy theorist. What threat are we acting against here? What crime are we pre-empting? At present, individuals can engage in "regulatory arbitrage" operating in areas in which regulation is less onerous. As if it isn't bad enough to have countries increasing control of communications within their own borders, they are now willingly giving up sovereignty in exchange for a global reach?

    There are two ways to look at this. On the one hand, it may be that the cases raised by such an agreement would open more eyes to the problems with intellectual property. But this is an unreasonably rosy outcome. The more likely result is that Romanian cops will (with the cybercrime convention in place) be searching your hard drive--with US complicity--in the next few years.

  • > What it boils down to is, "in case of conflict between two countries' laws, the most severe one takes precedence".

    True. Until this treaty was noised about, the rule of the Internet was that the country or nation with the most liberal or free laws in practice prevailed. This proposed treaty will turn the whole matter on its head.

    >This is absolutely insane, and will only contribute to widespread contempt of the very concept of Law.

    I wish it were as simple as that.

    For about ten years now, the Internet has been a valuable tool for investigating what some people want to keep hid, & sharing information despite censorship. Now the (literally) Barons of Big Business have noticed this, & want to tie us back to the soil of our national regulations. (Who else would be pressuring so hard for this kind of screwy logic in applying laws?)

    Too bad RMS did not propose a way we, the average folk, might apply pressure against this fettering proposal.

    Geoff

  • The "peacekeeping" mission in Somalia wasn't, because there was no peace to keep. Then it became a "peacemaking" operation, and we jumped right into "nation building". What a joke, a parody of a military operation. We raised people's hopes just enough to dash them. Thank you, UN!

    I know for a fact that we could have gone in and done a pure "peacemaking" operation and done it well. We had several documented opportunities to act swiftly and assert control, but we failed to because we had to wait for clearance from the UN, zillions of miles away.

    Same story in Bosnia. Just ask the few who survived Srebrinica. The UN commanders sat by and watched as their own troops on the ground were overwhelmed, and civilians were massacred.

    A military presence controlled by a posse of non-elected, unaccountable Geneva suits is obscene.

    Let the UN stick to law, economics, and poverty. But keep them out of military and security matters.

  • The world of the future will have international laws that override local ones, international courts to interpret the law, international economic unions to do "what is best for the world" (instead of for a person's native country), international military forces (the UN's working on this), an international police force (i.e., the United States), and a council of probably-unelected international leaders who are concerned about "the greater good."

    What gets lost? Individual rights and community rights. Americans will no longer be able to act as Americans, because of how it might affect a Korean, a Swede, a South African or a New Zealander.
    I disagree completely. I'm not frightened by the prospect of a world unified government -- in fact I think we desperately NEED one. Global corporations are using jurisdictional differences between nations to avoid child labor and anti-slavery laws. They're misusing tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

    Through the WTO, GATT, NAFTA, MAI the goal is to reduce the power of elected government to a minimum while increasing the power of corporate control over public life. I think we need a world government in place to check the power of multinationals, and to set level playing field in the marketplace. Unfortunately, one can't have a consistent set of rules in a marketplace a government to oversee and regulate the market. It's clear to me that completely deregulated world markets will lead to global monopolies unlike anything we've seen yet, and this will lead to a catastrophe for the citizens of the world -- never mind democracy as an institution.

    So, to me the issue is not should we implement a world government, but HOW? As far as I'm concerned it must be democratically elected, is must fairly represent all of the nations' interests throughout the world, and it should restrict itself to matters of commerce. Currently the WTO is an unelected body which holds the contents of it's meetings in secret. If the world business community continues to control international regulation through secret organizations like the WTO it doesn't matter one bit that you may have elected your officials to power; their ability to write laws in accordance with your (and citzen's wishes) will be circumvented by these unelected bodies for the purpose of "free trade" making local and national government moot.

    That's the potential future I fear.

    --Maynard
  • In the US, the Constitution is regarded as the "Supreme Law of the Land," changes to which must undergo an amendment process. So, any treaty entered into just has the weight of an act of Congress, and may thus be found unconstitutional. No treaty may take away the rights recognized by the constitution. (IANAL)
  • by pcidevel (207951) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:47AM (#157089)
    Of course, I could be all wrong, they might be a fearsome fighting force, when they use their black helicopters, operating out of secret bases in the Pacific Northwest to take over the United States and establish a true world government.

    Those of us in the Pacific Northwest have never seen any black helicopters and have no idea what you are talking about..

    (*fnord*It's okay guys, I think he believed me!*fnord*)

    Yetti?.. what Yetti? :)
  • Of course, I'm sure there are a few Swedes who aren't particularly happy about how this might affect them. The reality of the arrangement is that lowering of legislative borders will likely affect others even more than those of us in the US. We are living in a country that breeds lawyers like rabbits--don't tell me that some of them are not salivating at the possibility of taking their practices global. Frankly, although I am not happy with the idea of Korean law extending to Americans living in the US, I can't imagine how such an agreement has found any favor in small countries that hope to maintain some autonomy and local democracy.
  • by G. Mercator (457768) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:47AM (#157091)
    In China, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Iraq, and Sierra Leone. By extension, it is illegal everywhere. Individuals running Freenet Servers will be interned in re-education camps.
  • There goes all our rights when it comes to dealing with corporations.

    If a company does not like what they can file a lawsuit. You filed a complaint for discrimination in the United States. They go to Mexico and file a libel lawsuit against you there. You may have a right (and duty) to file a complaint the United States, but it is illegal in Mexico. It does not matter that you never been to Mexico and the EEOC published the press release (and not you) and it could be seen in Mexico, after they mailed it to Mexico.

    I suspect (and hope) that at some point, the court will consider the local laws when enforcing a judgment locally.

  • by angst_ridden_hipster (23104) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:49AM (#157093) Homepage Journal
    It doesn't matter *why* the law gets written.

    What matters is what gets codified into law by the treaty, and what the unexpected side-effects of that law may be.

    Laws get applied according to the need of the lawyers. There are a lot of dramatic cases of this. For example, Operation Rescue (radical anti-abortion group) was prosecuted under RICO statutes -- a law created to control organized crime. Similarly, Blue Cross Health Insurance is being sued under RICO because they control how physicians deal out healthcare to their clients. Appropriate? Maybe (depends on your politics), but certainly not what was intended by the original authors in the '70s.

    So yes, you should be worried.
    bukra fil mish mish
    -
    Monitor the Web, or Track your site!
  • Does anyone else see a great polarzation comming here?

    To counter the problem with this convention, some will argue that we need more global laws, and less power to the individual nation. The other half will argue for the opposite.

    Polarization is never good as it alienates people, but it is probably hard to avoid when facing such great changes in the world.

    Another problem is that the side pushing for more international laws are the one with the most money, big corporation etc.

    I think the answer lies in between, as it usualy does. "We need to hurry slowly..."
  • I finally agree with something RMS says!
    This treaty (call a conference by the Hague) is just one step closer to a one world government that trades simplicity and market efficiency for my rights. While it does not apply to criminal activities and thus have the teeth to lock me for criticizing say, Tony Blair, it does have economic teeth allowing Mr. Blair to attach my wages for criticizing him. We are already seeing rampant abuse of the civil justice system with wrongful death suits and intimidation of individuals by commercial entities. With the ratification of this convention, the scope of these abuses will pass from the US to international courts. Large corporations with a multinational presence will have the ability to shop the world for a sympathetic court where they can setup a shell presence and dictate their own decisions.

    For an example of this kind of abuse, American need only to look back half a decade or so to the company towns set up in Appalachia. These towns were run by corporate interests, giving them regulatory and enfrocement over worker safety conditions. Fortunately in this case pressure was placed on the federal government to pass safety regulations that placed a check on corporate power in these towns, and workers were allowed to sue the corporations for compensation for the health problems they faced as a result of the conditions they worked in. Now imagine for a second, if the state based analog of this treaty was in effect, and there was no federal government responsible to voters to override it. The corporation would essentially be able to block any action brought against them by workers regardless of the jurisdiction....they would simply find a sympathetic court in the town. With a lack of court heirarchy, this court could not be overridden and the issue would be deadlocked or at least stalled until the workers.

    Call you senator and have US ratification of this conference blocked.
  • People thought it was strange to see a letter that was simultaneously signed by RMS, ESR and a bunch of other OSS folks.

    On this issue, however, I'd bet they could draft a letter that RMS, Jesse Helms and Ross Perot would all sign. Now that would be something else.

  • I disagree completely. I'm not frightened by the prospect of a world unified government -- in fact I think we desperately NEED one. Global corporations are using jurisdictional differences between nations to avoid child labor and anti-slavery laws. They're misusing tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

    They are using jurisdictional differences between nations to avoid (usually) United States law. Having a world government does not mean having the United States rule the world. It means that whatever laws, rights, and priviliges we have as Americans are secondary to whatever laws are enforced on a global level.

    Through the WTO, GATT, NAFTA, MAI the goal is to reduce the power of elected government to a minimum while increasing the power of corporate control over public life. I think we need a world government in place to check the power of multinationals, and to set level playing field in the marketplace. Unfortunately, one can't have a consistent set of rules in a marketplace a government to oversee and regulate the market. It's clear to me that completely deregulated world markets will lead to global monopolies unlike anything we've seen yet, and this will lead to a catastrophe for the citizens of the world -- never mind democracy as an institution.

    Your argument is that we should have a world government regulating things in order to protect our freedom? Absurd.

    So, to me the issue is not should we implement a world government, but HOW? As far as I'm concerned it must be democratically elected, is must fairly represent all of the nations' interests throughout the world, and it should restrict itself to matters of commerce.

    Why should it restrict itself to matters of commerce? That's an arbitrary decision on your part, and such a government would only result in a world primarily focused on corporate endeavors.

    In addition, there is no way to "fairly represent all of the nations' interests throughout the world." Ask the Korean government their opinion of parody, and you'll see that it's impossible.

  • Especially for soldiers from the US. The European view of human rights is very warped because it considers a soldier guilty for using "excessive" force against civilians in police actions and war, yet will not execute the leaders that order it. If pvt Bob kills a civilian in Kosovo that attacks the Serbian minority, he could be charged with crimes against humanity under plans similar to the one that Stallman opposes. Yet Bill Clinton wouldn't be executed for ordering the USAF to bomb the civilian infrastructure of Serbia into rubble even if the USAF vehemently opposes it behind the scenes.

    It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that actually pays attention to treaties involving the Hague that the players involved are seeking new, innovative ways to destroy freedom.

  • I would go to a small country that has little or no copyright laws. I would promise a billion or two to the country if they would copyright my, ahem, programs. You know, Office, Windoze etc. Then I would sue M$ for "illegal" copyright infringement, and press the issue all the way around the Globe.

    I am guessing I could make a fortune on this scam. Ooops, I was thinking outloud again. Damn that blond dye job.
  • Those of us in the Pacific Northwest have never seen any black helicopters and have no idea what you are talking about..

    That's because Black Helicopters are invisible, you are not supposed to see them, dude! The fact you don't see them is the proof they exist.

  • As others have noted, we don't live in isolated pockets anymore. The Internet has made the world a LOT smaller.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), this means that certain things (such as national borders) need to be looked at again. Because routers can direct traffic that goes from A to B through ANY intermediate point C, the laws of C cannot meaningfully govern that traffic.

    This automatically rules out border taxes, laws governing telecommuications, etc. So, once you've accepted those changes, you start on the path of accepting other changes, such as whos laws govern what.

    Now, I'm not saying that this treaty is a good thing. I think it's probably the worst possible agreement that could have been made. All I'm saying is that =SOME= agreement WILL happen. It's not a case of whether, but when.

  • ...in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

    Obviously, the men who have been elected to lead this country, those involved in the drafting of the proposed Hague Treaty (and, yes, the U.S. was involved in writing it - they did the same with the WIPO treaty) have either never read those words, do not understand their simple meaning, have forgotten they are supposed to support/defend the ideology of the Constitutioin, or else they no longer care about the duty and responsibility inherent in their position.

    And I haven't even brought out the 1st Amendment. This proposed treaty violates the ideals of the Preamble.

    Establish Justice - under OUR laws, not some other nation's (if the law should apply to us, it would already apply.)

    Insure domestic Tranquility - I may be one of those rioting in protest over this one!

    Secure the Blessings of Liberty - As signatories to the Hague Treaty, the only liberty would be to have no international dealings without fully understanding the pertinent laws of ALL affected nations.
  • Your argument is that we should have a world government regulating things in order to protect our freedom? Absurd.
    You bet. I trust elected bodies (about as far as I can throw the usual fat-ass legislators) far more than I trust private corporations. Frankly, companies meet in secret; keep their books secret; act with complete disregard to local communities, citizens, and even their employees; and they're completely immune to prosecution beyond levying fines.

    Why I should "trust" a multinational corporation with an income greater than more third world nations yet distrust elected government because it's "inherently evil" is an equation I simply don't understand. Because they have the guns? You don't like it when a government owns guns (but it's OK for a orporation to have a private "security force")... well then, why not write to your congresscritter and ask him/her to disarm our military?

    So yes, I consider elected government a more "free" institution than private corporations simply because as a citizen I have at least a say in how policy is enacted and enforced.

    --Maynard

  • Why go to such lengths, when so many of us are giving software away for free? Or by 'our', do you mean Microsoft? It's kind of scary to think that major changes in the legal system are occuring just to improve the profits of a company that's already extremely profitable.
  • That's where we're at folks. Read "No Logo" by Naomi Klein. (www.fireandwater.com) Growing up in the late 60s and 70s, I saw the UN as an antidote to the cold war. It was hamstrung in both legs by that cold war. Now it plays second fiddle to WTO.

    The Hague and similar institutions seek to implement global laws. The laws they implement are flawed and uneven and there is no concensus. But look at the world today - every issue of global significance had economic implications which prevent rational discussion at G7 and US/Europe/Asia summit levels.

    It would be a shame to perfect the Hague Treaty as it relates to intellectual property and leave the human rights unfinished. But, because the politicians who must conduct the negotiations are so influenced by the corporate lobby, this is what may happen.

    RMS makes some good points though!

  • ... Jesse Helms. Of course, all right-thinking people denounced him for his Neanderthal beliefs since everything international had to be good.

    No... we denounce him for being a neanderthal.

    Let's take a few [wisc.edu] quotes [nandotimes.com]:
    • "We've got to have some common sense about a disease transmitted by people deliberately engaging in unnatural acts."
    • "All Latins are volatile people. Hence, I was not surprised at the volatile reaction."
    • "The fact is that the American people are sick and tired of this whole foreign aid concept anyhow"


    Helms is a bigot and quite bluntly, not very swift. He's also an isolationist when it suits his needs.

    --
    Aaron Sherman (ajs@ajs.com)
  • So yes, I consider elected government a more "free" institution than private corporations simply because as a citizen I have at least a say in how policy is enacted and enforced

    Again, your views of how "elected government" works is biased. I am assuming by the way you write that you're an American citizen, and thus your idea of a free and (reasonably) fair government are highly skewed.

  • Don't forget that laws about EULAs may be different in different countries. I personally think that it's quite reasonable to claim that a simple click-through agreement is not enough to disclaim legal responsibility for the contents of a site. If local law somewhere agrees with me on that point, I could sue there and avoid your EULA altogether.

    That's the real danger of the situation; people who want to enforce their aims of can shop for a location where the law agrees with them. Want to sue for libel? Find a place where libel laws are very strict. Want to get by a strict EULA? Find a place where click-through EULAs are unenforceable. And, of course, if you're a government this is trivial because you can always re-write your laws in a way that lets you go after the people who are annoying you.

  • I disagree completely. I'm not frightened by the prospect of a world unified government -- in fact I think we desperately NEED one. Global corporations are using jurisdictional differences between nations to avoid child labor and anti-slavery laws. They're misusing tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

    How would you set up such an organisation such that it has at least some resistance to corporate lobbying (and lobbying from political "crackpots").
    Currently if such an organisation were to form then odds on it would be in the pockets of some combination of US big business and sexist and racist lobby groups (again primarily from the US).
    Effectivly you'd make most of the world subject to the worst excesses of the US, without even the (theoretical) "protection" of the US constitution.
  • Too bad RMS did not propose a way we, the average folk, might apply pressure against this fettering proposal.

    Allow me to suggest how to apply pressure against proposals like this. Organize. Agitate. Educate. Resist. Take it to the streets if that is what it takes.

    One does not need to study that much history, to come to the conclusion that it's through direct action that all advances of freedom and human rights have been made. And it's through direct action we have to defend and further advance our rights.

    In the so called western world, things have been sleepy for quite some time. But the powerful people that have everything to gain by taking our rights away have not been at rest. This one-sided war can not go on for ever. People everywhere are taking up the many struggles that need to be won. This have been visible recently in places like Seattle, Nice and Prague. And this very weekend, in Gothenburg, it will happen again. [motkraft.net]

    But it's not at the top meetings the battles are won. So find some like-minded people and start making some trouble!

  • One of the law enforcement agencies around here (midwest) actually uses black helicopters (only markings a small round white seal with red letters on the side and the N-numbers are smaller than normal and in dark grey on the black background). They are not easily confused with the National Guard's similar sized helicopters which are dark green and clearly marked with visible white normal sized N numbers. They are neither much quieter than a UH60 and certainly not invisible as some of the conspiracy theorists claim. They do, however, fly slowly, at low altitudes and in sweeping arcs, and have a large electronics pod mounted on one of the skids. What they appear to be looking for is electromagnetic signatures of large amounts of flourescent tubes and other such equipment used in grow houses and clandestine drug labs.

    Sometimes there is tiny grain of truth in conspiracy theories if you dig far enough.

  • I don't see how that's hypocritical. What we're talking about here is opposition to forcing US courts to enforce foreign laws, or forcing say German courts to enforce US laws. Having US courts enforce US laws, even if against non-US companies, is not the same thing, and is done by nearly all countries (take for example France's attempt to enforce its censorship laws against the US main branch of Yahoo).
  • You could fight it technically, sure. But the problem with that is, you wouldn't be solving the problem - you may be fixing some of the symptoms of the problem, but the problem would still be there. Symptomatic treatment is a lousy substitute for a cure. This is a political problem, it should be solved politically. The problem is with the lousy ideological reasoning and motivations behind the treaty. By attempting to fight this technically, you allow the ideology to pass, and in doing so you lend it weight, people will believe "ok the ideology can't be all bad because this passed as law". Circumventing the law after the fact by technical means is hardly going to have any benefit. Parodies, whistle-blowing etc all have their valid place, and the fight should be to have these things maintain their status of validity (or in places where they are not valid, to teach others why they are valid). Such things should not be made illegal in the first place. Why allow it to become illegal and then make weak attempts to patch the problem afterwards? There shouldn't have to be a need for networks like freenet in the first place. The existence of such networks implies that their is something at fault with the non-"underground" technologies - the more popular something like freenet becomes, the more sure a sign it is that "above-ground" technologies and laws have problems that should rather be addressed. Why do people always seem to want to treat things symptomatically instead of solving the real problems? Is it because its usually easier?

  • Well, sadly, Stallman is probably right in this case. The problem is not that "only the bad laws propagate, and not the good" in some abstract sense. The problem is that the law of the place where the suit takes place are allowed to take precidence over those of the place where the alleged offense may have taken place. For a person or organization that is able to practice jurisdictional shopping (i.e. a multi-national corporation) or change the law to suit its purpose (i.e. a government) that will almost always mean the more restrictive law.

    One other thing that's potentially very worrying about this is that it may open the door to real legal abuse of another type. If your web site offens a multi-national corporation, they may very well decide to sue you in every country where they do business. There's nothing in particular to stop them from doing this, and they would only need to win one of those suits to put you in a world of hurt. That's nasty.

  • I happen to live in a country (USA) that recognises rights and freedoms available no where else in the world. I'm not about to willingly let someone in another country vote away my freedoms.

    The USA, in terms of it's written constitution protects rights and freedoms. However in terms of it's historical record on human rights it isn't especially notable.
    Problem is that whilst there might be plenty of people who can recite the US Constitution there are rather fewer who understand what it means and why it exists in the first place.
    As for voting, remember the last US election was viewed as a "joke" by the rest of the planet.
  • by csbruce (39509) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @12:32PM (#157144)
    YOU GOTTA FIGHT...FOR YOUR RIGHT...TO PARODY!!!!

    You'd better watch it, buddy, because right after finish outlawing parodies, they'll outlaw puns.
  • This treaty does not apply to the following areas....Only civil and commercial law are included.
    So the clown buying himself a verdict against you in a kangaroo court in Morocco can't have you thrown in jail, he can only take everything you own and throw you and your family out on the street. That's a big reassurance.
    --
  • by csbruce (39509) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @12:40PM (#157151)
    It'll be neat when Fidel Castro sues the US government for violating the ideals of communism, and wins.
  • What matters is what gets codified into law by the treaty, and what the unexpected side-effects of that law may be.

    e.g. completly ignoring a treaty. (Which incidentally also originates from The Hague). When domestic politics in the most critical state in the US were a factor.


    Laws get applied according to the need of the lawyers. There are a lot of dramatic cases of this.

    Probably not just "lawyers", police and elected politicans (though in places such as the US elected politicans are quite frequently lawyers anyway.)

    For example, Operation Rescue (radical anti-abortion group) was prosecuted under RICO statutes -- a law created to control organized crime. Similarly, Blue Cross Health Insurance is being sued under RICO because they control how physicians deal out healthcare to their clients. Appropriate?

    But Microsoft isn't, even though their OEM pricing (and telling OEMs what they can and can't sell with Microsoft software) dosn't sound too difficult from a health insurance organisation telling physicans how to do their job.
  • by zpengo (99887) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @12:43PM (#157154) Homepage
    You make assumptions such as:

    A global government would be elected. This is virtually impossible, considering the variety of nations that would be participating. We can't even get an accurate election in the United States.

    A global government, if elected, would be elected by the people. More likely, it would be elected by governments or corporations.

    A global government would have something resembling the Freedom of Information Act, which makes their affairs and paperwork public.

    A global government would be democratic and capitalist. Should I go on?

  • You do realize that the DMCA is a US law, not a treaty, don't you?
  • Countries trying to solve their disagreements by forming one government? That's like a man and a woman who hate eachother trying to solve their problems by getting married.

  • In the US, the Constitution is regarded as the "Supreme Law of the Land," changes to which must undergo an amendment process. So, any treaty entered into just has the weight of an act of Congress, and may thus be found unconstitutional.

    The problem is that there is a loophole in that its quite trivial for unconstitutional laws to be passed in the US. But then rather hard for the ordinary person to do anything about them.
    Especially if the original law was pushed by an organised lobby.
    Even if a law were to be found unconstitutional nothing will happen to those who passed it in the first place.
  • When people finally force those stinking peasants to pay for Windows 2000, we'll all be happier.

    I mean, how dare they not save up their yearly wages for an average of six years, to pay for this software.

    That's criminal!

    Microsoft is LOSING money here! It's not like software is free to copy or anything, these EVIL PIRATES are breaking into honest GOD-FEARING stores and PILLAGING copies of Win2k for their SATANIC uses.

    When we stamp this out, the world will finally be a safe place for multi-billionaries! Thank the state-approved god!

    You know, Microsoft doesn't lose ANY money from 'pirates'. Those unauthorized copiers make their own copies, or buy them from someone who has.

    This doesn't even cost MS a sale, unless you actually expect that someone living in a country where the yearly wage is around $500 US, for a middle-class family, it actually going to spend $300 USD for an OS.

    Get real.

    This whole "piracy" scare is a farce. It's all about companies wanting control over what you do with their products, not actual concern over unauthorized copying.

    Remember, theft deprives the original owner of something. Duplication, authorized or not, can NEVER be theft.
  • A 'democracy' is not what leaders pushing for a New World Order or World Government are pursueing though. For one thing, it's organizationally not feasible. For another thing, it does not reign in control, pass laws faster, or decide tough questions quickly. The world has lots of cultures, many of which cannot agree with each other.

    Therefore, a one world governments goal would be to control people. No dissension over decisions, no arguments between 'countries,' because everyone is controlled by a central authority. Your utopian dream world could never exist using our current human nature as a basis for civilized rule.

  • I'm no history major, but I seem to remember the labor unions opposing a great deal of international dealings for a long time now. As such, it has been a liberal issue for at least as long as the unions have been around.
  • E.g., the UN should have voting restrictions based on the nature of the member government; dictatorships shouldn't be able to vote on many (most?) items.

    Who picks the definition of a "dictatorship"?

    It should also have strict limits on the nature of the measures it's allowed to take, a la the prohibitions in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States but without the loopholes.

    The biggest loophole is apathy and people trusting "the authorities". The basic problem is how do you create a body both powerfull and trustworthy enough to enforce a constitution including reacting effectivly to problems. Such as poltitical parties short circuiting divisions between different arms of government; ultra powerful lobby groups who can easily "drown out" ordinary people and so on.
    Whilst some of the loopholes in the US constitution might be easy to spot they are hardly easy to do much about...
  • You forget that the US multinationals behind this have more money than many (most?) of those governments, and can easily buy off their pols and judges.

    Thus the only thing these governments can do is consult their generals rather than their lawyers...
  • Ah, but with this Hague treaty it can become more of a way of life... ;)
  • Indeed. This is the fucking age of the Internet... why not have a bunch of virtual nation-states with whatever laws we want? I mean, ya know?

    Of course, there is all that enforcement crap and security that only makes sense in a geographical framework, but why not have several virtual nation-states in a particular geographical area? Not to mention that the legacy countries may bitch about losing land, etc...

    crazy idea,
    -l
  • and don't forget the corporate death penalty. :-)

    -l
  • I think we need a world government in place to check the power of multinationals
    Great. Make "domination" by the multinationals easier by giving them one-stop lobbying!

    Seriously, we as citizens of the world would be wise to oppose the concentration of national power into an international body just as US citizens would be wise to resist the transferring of state power (what state power is left) to the federal government.

  • Laws regarding prostitution and pedophilia already are implemented accross borders, as unfortunate people coming back from sex-tourism trips abroad often find out. Whether it is the Finn doing Russian girls or the American doing Thai boys, both people have the very unpleasant surprise of being arrested in their home country on their way back, based on outrageous jusridiction overlaps about one's country slightly lower or higher age of consent. The usual math is, the country where the tourists come from places the treshold at an older age than the country where the prostitution happens. Rock starts sleeping with their teenage fans in the wrong country also have the same unpleasant surprise

  • Stallman pieces raises interesting issues but they are neither new neither correctly asserted. Courts do not need the Hague Treaty today to enforce foreign judgments, in every legal system there is allready mechanisms peculiar to the system that allow for enforcement of a foreign court decision. So the Hague treaty is not this big and awful new thing (at least it is not new)that is going to change the world and promote the idea of a single world order or law or even government as I have read in some threads. On the contrary the idea is rather to organize the mess that is the fact that our legal systems are different are more and more in contact with each other because of globalization and certainly because of the non-geographical nature of the Internet. Now the Hague treaty consequences or the courts rules used to day to assert jurisdiction and more importantly to enforce judgments are not as simple and scary as Stallman describes them. Rather than being those big ugly mechanic things that according to him will make any stupid judgment passed abroad for something displayed on your web site, they allow for plenty of exceptions and subtilities that will avoid the stupid result that he contemplates. And the court deciding to enforce a foreign judgment will be a domestic court (i.e. a US court)that will take into account both the foreign and the US interest before enforcing the judgment. I do not know much about Stallman but this is really scapegoatting about nothing, lack of research on the subject.
  • IIRC, the US isn't really a part of the International Court of Justice. I think we're an "official observer" or some such fancy name for a sideline position. Something to do with our usual desire to stay out of anything resembling a "world government."
  • Trying someone in an international court brings up many issues. Will the court's judges be fair and non-predjudiced? American soldiers would probably be SOL because of the biggotry they would face in an international court in Europe. Would there be a bill of rights guaranteeing at least the same things as ours? Would the bill of rights actually carry any legal weight? Who would get to decide what is a "crime against humanity?" Many more, but my wrist is hurting.
  • Yep. For anyone that's interested in how bad the "nation building" mission in Somalia got, read Black Hawk Down by Bowden.

    A book that looks at both sides of the battle in October of '93...although with more focus on the American side, but talks about things like how the UN forces were split up around the city, and when the US Army needed armor (tanks and APCs) that was the Pakistani's job and we had to beg/barrow/threaten to get some armor, and at the first sign of weapons fire the Pakistani driver starts shouting "We go now!"

    But yes...we (US, Pakistan, Italy and others) did a great job of "peacekeeping" and aid distribution, but when the UN decided to start "king making" and "nation building" it all went down hill.

    Heck, wern't there occasions in Bosnia where Canadian and British troops held at gun point by the local Serbs after they told UN HQ that they needed to defend themselves and HQ said don't resist?

    Now years later, when it's time to capture war criminals in Bosnia, it's US Special Forces/SAS/Canadians under NATO command doing the snatches and gunfights to get the job done.

    The UN doesn't work for military operations...because most of the time, the people on either side will belong to the UN...that doesn't make sense.
  • Actually, there have been attempts by several groups to bring Bill Clinton to trial for war crimes in eastern Europe. Clinton should have known better than to have tried to approve the international courts.
  • by AdamHaun (43173) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @06:43PM (#157205) Journal
    It won't be long until a national government is formed. Some bastarized hybrid of the Articles of Confederation, British common law, and other organizations will eventually take over for the purpose of "clarifying" matters of national jurisdiction, among other things. If you've been paying attention over the past few years, you've probably seen it coming.

    The America of the future will have national laws that override local ones, national courts to interpret the law, national economic unions to do "what is best for the nation" (instead of for a person's native state), national military forces (the Federalists are working on this), a national police force (i.e., the Canadian Mounties), and a council of probably-unelected national leaders who are concerned about "the greater good."

    What gets lost? Individual rights and community rights. Virginians will no longer be able to act as Virginians, because of how it might affect a Rhode Islander, a New Jerseyite, a Pennsylvanian or a Marylander.

    I don't know about you, but I'm not looking forward to it.

    [Apologies for the butchered state adjectives]
  • What we're talking about here is opposition to
    forcing US courts to enforce foreign laws


    Actually the US enforces the most foreign judgements. This is one reason it is pushing for the treaty so hard, it wants to be able to have its judgements extended to other countries.
  • So do I have to put a click-through EULA on all my sites, stating that only US/EU citizens may view them without waiving their rights to sue me?

    Wouldn't protect you from French/German anti-nazi laws (remember the Yahoo France [slashdot.org] case?), bad software patents, kangaroo ADR courts, click thru agreements that make you give up many rights you might like to have, etc.

    There are 49 [hcch.net] members of the Hague Convention, Burkino Faso isn't one of them.
  • Nope, he's number 2 now. One of the Walton heirs (of Wal-Mart) passed him.

    And that's why WE NEED THIS TREATY NOW!!!!

    How can we let Bill Gates be humiliated this way?

    Won't SOMEONE think about poor Bill Gates?

  • Then I guess the Supreme Court just put them out of business.
  • Hrm, I wasn't aware of that. Judging by the US's stance on these issues though I'd imagine that they wanted to pass a DMCA-like law anyway, and pushed for the WIPO so every else would have to pass it as well. I severely doubt the US passed the DMCA grudgingly only to comply with the treaty (usually if the US doesn't like treaties it just ignores them).
  • As I understand it, the two applications would have to be filed simultaneously, as a patent in another country counts as prior art. Of course, if the second patent is issued by a country that doesn't have the same prior art rules, then this could happen.
  • I think we need a world government in place to check the power of multinationals, and to set level playing field in the marketplace.

    Corporations have been very successful at co-opting the power of the American government for their own use. Multinational corporations are greedy and clever. They are doubtless the most powerful forces behind the Hague initiative.

    Don't you think that they would co-opt a world government just as quickly? Don't you suppose that they've been drooling over the prospect of a world government for decades in order to do exactly this?

    Before we all decide to submit to a world government that will protect us all from run-away corporate power, we ought to see at least one instance of this happening on a regional or national level, under living conditions humanity would unanimously find suitable.

  • You make three broad claims -- complete generalizations -- without any factual basis to back these up. You argue that government -- by it's inherent nature -- makes bad laws. You argue that local jurisdictions allow an escape route for refugees. And you argue -- on ideological grounds alone -- that the larger the jurisdiction the "the stupider the actions of government become."

    But you don't argue exactly with what we should replace government. I certainly won't claims nationalistic pride in the behavior of US policymakers (especially our foreign policy), but I'll gladly argue that many of our federal programs have done substantial good throughout the society. For example, the FDA has been tasked with providing a safe food source, and for the most part has done a good job. Medicare gave my father (while he was dying) access to necessary health services -- for him and the many millions of other elderly what do you recommend as the alternative?

    For some good examples of government power imploding and leaving a vacuum see Somalia, Russia, Georgia... gangsterism institutionalized. While I don't argue that elected government is without corruption, I do argue that it's the only leverage citizens have against total domination by the wealthy and powerful.

    Here's an interesting Chompsky quote: "Costs and risks are socialized, and the profit is privatized. That's called capitalism" When you see the HMO, Nuclear power, RIAA and MPAA industries lobbying congress for legal indemnification from lawsuits or other such perks that's exactly what this quote refers.

    Cheers,
    --Maynard
  • The author of the article forgets one key component of enforcing a judgment: jurisdiction. He makes it sound as if all one has to do is go to France--for example--sue someone there, and bring the judgment to any Hague Treaty signatory to get the judgment enforced. However, the Hague Treaty is about jurisdiction, too. It has detailed rules governing how courts can establish jurisdiction over foreign parties.

    There are two things which prevent judgments from being enforceable in foreign countries. The first is the simple idea of sovereignty: France cannot send its police over into the United States to seize the bank account of a person who has a French judgment against him. France has no power to enforce its laws outside its own borders (and the Hague Treaty will not change this). The second thing is related to sovereignty: a French court does not have jurisdiction to resolve questions of my rights unless I am within France's borders or have established some kind of contact with France that makes France's jurisdiction over me reasonable. In other words, if I am not within France's borders, France does not have the sovereign power to decide my rights, because France's sovereignty stops at the border. However, theoretically, if I have established some kind of sufficient contact with France (opening a store there, or selling goods over the internet specifically to people in France), then it sould be reasonable for France to decide my rights (even if they cannot force me to show up) and have that decision, or judgment, be enforceable.

    Things do not work this way now. Right now most countries generally have laws governing jursidiction over foreign parties. For example, French law says that if you are a French citizen, you can obtain a judgment over a foreign party for a dispute that arose anywhere in the world just by bringing the case in French court. Then god help that foreign party when they show up in France and the French citizen gets to enforce that judgment. Further, in the United States we give respect to foreign judgments based on the principle of comity. Comity is basically reciprocal respect: the U.S. will enforce French judgments if France will enforce U.S. judgments. (Note that in practice, right now, the U.S. has more respect for French judgments than France has for U.S. judgments.) However, this principle of comity is limited by our notions of due process of law. The U.S. will not enforce judgments that fail to meet a minimum standard of due process protections. For example, I doubt if a U.S. court would enforce a judgment from a secret, Iranian military court (where people are tried without even being allowed to be present to mount a defense or confront their accusers).

    The Hague Treaty will change all this for its signatories. First, of all, it provides general rules for jurisdiction. Thus, France would not be able to keep its law that any French citizen can sue any foreign party in a French court and get an enforceable judgment. Each country would have to provide reasonable rules for jurisdiction. Second, the principle of comity (as between signatories) would drop out of the picture. In the U.S., we would already have adequate assurance that a foreign judgment meets our standards of due process. France would be forced to give the same respect U.S. judgments as the U.S. gives to French judgments.

    The upshot is that the article ignores the concept of jurisdiction. Just because a French business obtains a judgment against me in France, even under the Hague Treaty, that judgment is not automatically enforced unless it is valid, i.e., the French court had jurisdiction over me. If the French court did not follow the Hague Treaty rules on jurisdiction, which should be fair to all countries, then that judgment will not be valid (think of it as an ultra vires exercise of sovereignty) and it will not be enforceable in other Hague signatory nations.

    For those of you with access to Westlaw or Lexis, you can read more about the concept of jurisdiction and the Hague Treaty in a Cornell Law Review article, Jurisdictional Salvation and the Hague Treaty, by Professor Kevin Clermont, published in issue 1 of Volume 85 (November 1999). This is the legal cite: 85 Cornell L. Rev. 89. (You can also read my article for some background on the law of jurisdiction in the U.S., 85 Cornell L. Rev. 1742 (Sept. 2000).)
  • RMS needs to chill. I very much doubt his legal buddy Eben Mogeln agrees with his "Harm from the Hague" screed. This is another alarmist polemic along the lines of RMS's "Right to Read".

    Not that's he's entirely wrong. Extraterritoriality is a very scary thing. The Hague Convention _is_ seriously flawed. But as things stand now in the US, it is very unlikely to be enforcable in the US. IANAL.

    The priority in US law is the US Constitution overrides treaties which overrides Congress. If the Hague were presented as a Treaty (it is) and ratified by 2/3rds of the Senate (unlikely) still it would have trouble: Free Speech is protected under the First Amendment. The power to make Patents and Copyright laws is granted to Congress under the USConst Article I Section 8. Not some foreign entity or even the US President/Senate.

    US Courts (especially the USSC) have had little qualm about ruling US and State Laws unconstitutional and invalid. They will have even less hesitation with foreign laws.

    For many years the US wasn't even a member of the "Berne Convention" on Copyright for this reason. I think finally Congress passed enabling (word-for-word) legislation.

    Now this argument applies only for the US. The UK, Canada and Australia have "Sovereignty of Parlement" without strong Constitutional safeguards. You could say they are elected dictatorships.

  • Generals? Have you been following the corruption scandals in the various South American militaries lately?
    --
  • It was because the UN didn't want to interfere in Bosnia back in '94-'95 that so many civilians were killed.

    No, it was because there were a bunch of greedy & racist people in Bosnia who were willing to kill others for land that so many civilians got killed. Same with Kosovo.

    Now in Macedonia, we're finding that the Albanians are just as big bastards as Milosevic...

    And we're supposed to send US troops to help these people? I'm reminded of a Star Trek episode with the "pseudo-war" between the two planets.
  • I would have to say that I actually disagree with you on a minor point.

    See Article VI, Clause 2 of the US Constitution:

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

    (Emphasis added)

    I'd like to point out that the US Congress could theoritically designate Saddam Hussein as emperor of the World and the Americas by treaty and probabally get away with it (although they would probabally also get thrown out of office when they run for reelection). This would be the supreme law of the land.

    I'll admit if I'm wrong here, and I'd like to know of any case history in regards to overruling an international treaty in US courts. The following is a heriachical view of US laws (from my understanding of US law... IANAL)

    1. US Constitution
    2. International Treaties ratified by Congress
    3. Laws passed by Congress
    4. Federal Common Law Judgements
    5. Laws passed by state legislatures/municipalities
    6. State Court Common Law Judgements
    7. Presidental/Gubinatorial Executive Orders (applies only to federal/state employees... but still can have the effect of law in may cases)
    8. International Treaties signed by the President but not yet ratified by the Senate (generally has the effect of an executive order, like some of the SALT treaties signed between the USSR and the US)
    9. Executive Department Regulations (like OSHA rules, IRS tax regs, other buracratic stuff)


    As can be seen here, the international treaties have substantial influence over US policy, which is why some people are still complaining in the US about American involvement in NATO.
  • The current draft text of the treaty (Oct 1999) is at http://www.hcch.net/e/conventions/draft36e.html [hcch.net] (The aim of the current negotiations is a new, revised draft to put before the politicians).

    Article 29(f) excludes 'recognition or enforcement [that] would be manifestly incompatible with the public policy of the State addressed.'

    Such "public policy" would clearly include First Amendment rights in the USA, as explained in this set of answers [essential.org] from the cousel to the US negotiators to questions from James Love.

    Similarly, UK judges would be /very/ unlikely to enforce US imposed damages for business-method patents.

    While there are some major issues for the negotiators to iron out (see eg this week's Economist article, no longer free online; and James Love's What You Should Know [cptech.org] guide), the whole process should still lead to something consumers can welcome -- as reflected in the opening paragraphs of this resolution [tacd.org] from a conference of EU and US consumer groups.

  • ...and of course it is a net win for the USA when said recipients of aid and fundamentalist propaganda go to war against their heathen brethren and buy lots of American arms.
  • Turnout is low because in America a single election doesn't determine who will control 90% of all government in our country. We elect SOOOOO many people to so many positions whereas in Europe and most nations it is all one parliamentary election.

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