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US Ignores Unwelcome WTO IP Rulings 448

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do dept.
Eye Log writes "The United States is a big fan of leaning on other countries to tighten IP and copyright protection, but has a tendency to ignore its own obligations when it doesn't get its way. 'Two ongoing cases illustrate the point. First, the European Union is pushing for the US to change a pair of rules that it calls "long-standing trade irritants." Despite World Trade Organization rulings against it, the US has not yet corrected either case for a period of several years... Apparently, it's easy to get hot and bothered when it's industries from your country that claim to be badly affected by rules elsewhere. When it comes to the claims of other countries, though, even claims that have been validated by the WTO, it's much easier to see the complexity of the situation, to spend years arguing those complexities before judges, and to do nothing even when compelled by rulings.'"
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US Ignores Unwelcome WTO IP Rulings

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  • by suso (153703) * on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:52PM (#22876538) Homepage Journal
    <?xml version="1.0">
    <comment>
    <sarc>Yeah, but everyone knows that Irish music sucks so its just not the same as when people copy Brittney Spears.</sarc>
    </comment>
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:37PM (#22876926)
      no, no, no! use the "tone" attribute on the "comment" tag!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Brian Gordon (987471)
        You might use sarcasm for just one sentence in your comment though; it doesn't make sense to mark the whole thing as the same tone.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by arotenbe (1203922)
          Hah!

          <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
          <comment xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xslashdotcomment">
          <phrase style="voice-tone:sarcasm;">Yeah, but everyone knows that Irish music sucks so its just not the same as when people copy Brittney Spears.</phrase>
          </comment>
  • by coutch (157269) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:54PM (#22876556)
    Given the way this administration has been handling Foreign Policy, this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone ...
    • by MoonlightSeraphim (1253752) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:02PM (#22876644)
      Honestly, I was about to make the same comment. Which part of this article is a news? If it's about the facts and events where US still didn't comply with WTO rulings then it was a good read. However, if the article was supposed to articulate the fact that US doesn't comply unless it is in their favor ... well, it is really an outdated news. Even though, I'm sure I will be modded either Troll or Flaimbait but it is a sad truth. Whenever it comes to harassing other countries in favor of US or, just to be more precise, US companies & corporations, then it is a first priority for them. While if it is otherwise situation nothing will change since US government considers themselves to be kings of the world and that their laws and points of view should prevail over everything and everyone else.
      • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:09PM (#22876696) Journal
        I don't think that's flamebait at all: US corps act in their own interest exclusively, with no concern for "fairness". That's even a legal requirement of the directors and officers of a corp.

        Of course a corporation uses it's influence to try to get favorable WTO rulings enfored with an iron fist, and unfavorable rulings delayed or ignored. That's how they're supposed to act. Ideally congresscritters would care about the people they represent, but it's hardly news that they instead care about they corporations that they represent.

        I disagree that the "US government considers themselves to be kings of the world and that their laws and points of view should prevail over everything and everyone else", as the "US government" isn't a person, it's composed of people who are just trying to do what's best for their campaign contributers.
        • by schon (31600) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:32PM (#22876872)

          US corps act in their own interest exclusively, with no concern for "fairness". That's even a legal requirement of the directors and officers of a corp.
          Except that this isn't a "corp", it's the fscking US Government

          It's hypocritical for representatives of the US government to lambaste other countries for WTO "violations", when the US Government turns a blind eye to infringement happening in their own country.

          Either the US government is for strict interpretation and enforcement or it's not. Pick one.
          • by WindowlessView (703773) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:46PM (#22877000)

            It's hypocritical for representatives of the US government to lambaste other countries for WTO "violations", when the US Government turns a blind eye to infringement happening in their own country.

            In the words of our Vice President: So?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by navtal (943711)
            I apologize but i am having trouble seeing where corporation and the US Government begin and end. Dare I use the word fascist? I fear for our future.
            • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Thursday March 27, 2008 @10:13AM (#22881376) Homepage Journal
              Dare I use the word fascist?

              Well, you should. People have been "Godwined" out of calling American fascism what it is for far too long. Any time anyone dares to point out that the current state of the US government, with its collusion between corporate and political interests, is turning into the very definition of fascism, they're greeted with howls of righteous fury and snide comments like, "When we start rounding up all the Jews and throwing them in death camps, let us know." But fascism is essentially an economic philosophy, not a racial or religious one; the anti-Semitism that went along with the German variety was pretty much absent in Italy, where fascism was invented and named.

              The funny thing is that the same right-wingers who mock people who call American fascism by its proper name are very quick to label their political opponents "Communists" or "Marxists," even though no mainstream American politician, no matter how leftist, has ever come close to proposing anything like true Communism or even socialism. (People who think the New Deal and its sequelae are socialist have no clue what they're talking about.) But the "moderate" policies praised by centrist Democrats and Republicans alike are straight out of Mussolini's playbook.
          • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @05:22AM (#22879524) Journal
            All of this because corporate money controls US politics. It is called corruption in some places, lobbying in US. If you don't like it, spread the word about Lawrence Lessig's Change Congress [change-congress.org] movements and ask your representative his/her position on this issue.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855)
            "Except that this isn't a "corp", it's the fscking US Government."

            I'd say the difference between these two concepts is getting smaller every year, with the campaining system as it is and the two corporation backed political families Bush and Clinton.
        • by mdarksbane (587589) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:56PM (#22877604)
          Is there any government for whom this isn't true? Most theories of nations and international politics indicate that national leaders move largely according to what they can get away with. Anyone expecting different is projecting quite a bit of idealism onto a process that really isn't.
          • by rasilon (18267) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:01AM (#22879666) Homepage
            It's pretty much a standing joke in the EU, that there's a hypothetical department that comes up with stupid rules just so that everyone can laugh at the British for trying to implement them when every other country knows not to bother...
            • by zoney_ie (740061) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @08:38AM (#22880406)
              Not as funny a post, but here goes. In many cases the rules are pretty ordinary, but they are EU *directives*; that is, they specify the minimum results needed by law but not how to implement it (that's up to individual states). It is in fact the British themselves that mostly come up with deranged and over-zealous implementations of EU directives in national law, just so the British govt. can continue to be control freaks, but blame the EU.

              The British media is complicit. Even the BBC had an article recently about how bus companies have to force their passengers to change buses on long-distance routes "because of crazy EU law".
        • by hxnwix (652290) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @12:01AM (#22878112) Journal

          I don't think that's flamebait at all: US corps act in their own interest exclusively, with no concern for "fairness".
          The comment to which you reply and the article both bemoan the US government's failure to uphold valid international judgments that happen to go against US companies. This isn't about fairness - failure to abide by WTO judgments certainly represents treaty violation and, by definition, infringes upon international law.

          Above all else, the US government is obligated to obey by the rule of law.

          the "US government" isn't a person, it's composed of people who are just trying to do what's best for their campaign contributers.
          No. I'm sorry; the US government is not the fucking mafia. Corporations may lobby the government to do anything whatsoever, but the government must stop short of doing those things that are illegal.

          I hope I've managed to put this into better context for you. To reiterate:

          Legal: US may do.
          Illegal: US MAY NOT DO.

          One more time: No. The answer to illegal requests is always no, and it doesn't matter who the fuck is asking. If it does, it's a crime.
      • by msobkow (48369) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:28PM (#22876846) Homepage Journal

        It's nothing new to Canada and our long-standing disputes over softwood lumber and other issues. The US even ignores it's own courts when it doesn't like the rulings.

        • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:57PM (#22877098)
          But what do you want us to do? It's our policy to regularly destroy hard drives after they've been subpoenaed by a federal court.
        • by vic-traill (1038742) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:02PM (#22877666)

          It's nothing new to Canada and our long-standing disputes over softwood lumber and other issues. The US even ignores it's own courts when it doesn't like the rulings.

          This is a really interesting case, in that the U.S. is using a related WTO ruling on this matter to ignore the NAFTA Extraordinary Challenge Committee (ECC) ruling. So, WTO rulings are welcomed on one hand, and ignored on another.

          http://www.ictsd.org/weekly/05-09-07/story4.htm [ictsd.org]

          This approach makes it pretty hard to deny assertions that trans-national trade agreements are welcome in the United States, as long as they are favourable; if not, fsck them. This isn't free trade, it is using free trade as a means to remove trade restrictions viewed as punitive or restrictive against U.S. trade.

          In my experience, this speaks directly to opposition in Canada against free trade agreements. The folks I argue out the problems of the world over scotch and beer with are not so much against free trade, but rather are skeptical as to whether 'free' has bi-directional meaning in practise.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by tsotha (720379)
          Yeah, sure, but you saddled us with William Shatner. We're not budging on the lumber until you take him back.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Obfuscant (592200)
        but it is a sad truth.

        No, it's a glad truth.

        The Revolutionary War took place due to a foreign "government" trying to rule US citizens. The breaking point was taxation without representation, but mostly it was all laws without representation.

        Of COURSE the US laws and points of view prevail IN THE US over anything else. We are a soverign nation. We have our own laws and our own courts. We aren't SUPPOSED to be controlled by every other country on the planet. Our SCOTUS isn't SUPPOSED to be considering ot

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:20PM (#22877282) Journal
          You are missing two things. First, the Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2) specifically states that any treaty obligations shall be the law of the land, and so you are legally, according to the constitution, bound by WTO rulings since the WTO powers are granted by a treaty. Secondly, you are ignoring the fact that the USA is expecting US law to extend over most of the world and is attempting to use the WTO to enforce this. Since the principle export of the USA is IP, your economy would be in an even worse state than it is now if the rest of the world took the same attitude the USA does to WTO IP rulings.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jedidiah (1196)
            Sorry but the Supremes just declared otherwise.

            Also I am sure that your paraphrase of that bit of law rather
            egregiously misrepresents it.

            There are plenty of similar examples from people like the
            Americal Family Association and anti-gun lobbyists.
            • by ta bu shi da yu (687699) * on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:20PM (#22877820) Homepage
              Care to address the other point the poster made?

              If the rest of the world ignored U.S. patents and copyright, then I'm fairly certain the U.S. would care. Same deal with what the U.S. is doing you know - it's not necessarily in the best interest of Europe or any foreign group to follow the laws of the United States.
            • Treaties and US law (Score:3, Informative)

              by JimBobJoe (2758)
              Sorry but the Supremes just declared otherwise.

              That Supreme Court case had to do with whether a treaty signed by the US could be enforced by the president.

              Apparently, that particular treaty didn't have any legislation passed by congress backing it up and/or the treaty didn't include say anything about how it would affect the states.

              "Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts said that because the treaty did not explicitly say its provisions were binding, and because there was no legislation to make t
          • The Republic is dead (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:24PM (#22877850)
            The USA died long ago and it has been a slow gradual death; although, recent years have been moving faster - as if its the last breath.

            Biggest mistake in the constitution has always been the clause about treaties. Treaties should be at least as difficult as passing a law if not more so.

            The constitution is "quaint" and is no longer the law of the land. USA is dead. What we have is USA Inc.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by watzinaneihm (627119)
            Apparently US legal system is a bit messy. Eventhough the federal government has to obey the treaties, according to the supreme court, States do not have to [npr.org] obey all treaties.
            Not justifying the US actions here, but occasionally foreign courts refuse [nytimes.com] to obey US courts - I agree that disobeying US court orders (whose opinions are valid through bilateral treaties) is slightly different from WTO obligations, but I think in general we can safely say that international law is not always smooth
        • by Admiral Ag (829695) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:24PM (#22877312)
          Look, you can't have trade without rules. Americans are able to trade with each other because the US has laws enforcing contracts and agreements. It is no different between states: some agreement about the rules is required to protect people who want to trade across borders. If the US wants to ignore the agreements it has made, then other countries will ignore their agreements and everyone will be worse off. International trade is for the most part beneficial to all parties. Actions like this are the result of special interests and are damaging not only to other countries but to Americans who aren't part of that interest group.

          The US is a sovereign nation with a sovereign government given the power to enact treaties with other nations. If you expect other nations to live up to their side of the treaties you like, then you have to stick to your obligations under the ones you don't like. The US is no longer in the position where it can violate whatever treaty it likes without consequences. This is not 1950. You aren't even the world's largest economy any more and the status of the dollar as reserve currency is the lowest it has been since the signing of Bretton Woods.

          Simple self interest ought to be enough to motivate the US to abide by the agreements it has made.
        • Of COURSE the US laws and points of view prevail IN THE US over anything else. We are a soverign nation. We have our own laws and our own courts. We aren't SUPPOSED to be controlled by every other country on the planet. Our SCOTUS isn't SUPPOSED to be considering other country's laws when they rule on laws we have passed here, they have a Constitution they are supposed to consider as supreme.

          That Constitution says nothing about the WTO getting to change US laws they don't like. It says nothing about UN Resolutions. Our government tops out at the federal level.
          There's a loophole in the Constitution however...

          From Article VI:

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

          Technically you don't need an amendment to change the Constitution and the supreme law of the US, all you need is 67 Senators and the President to concoct and agree to a treaty with a foreign power. That treaty then has the same weight as the Constitution.

          Retired NJ Superior Court Judge Andrew Napolitano has written a couple of books which touch on the subject of how the federal government has been able to subvert the Constitution. Check out "Constitutional Chaos" and "The Constitution in Exile"
          • by Miseph (979059) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:43PM (#22877998) Journal
            Re-read that passage, it doesn't say what you think it says. SCOTUS can rule a treaty unconstitutional just like any other law, and the Constitutionally dictated solution is to withdraw from the treaty.

            That said, the current SCOTUS is full of hacks and ideologues who will support whatever their neo-con cohorts wish regardless of what the Constitution does or does not say. Score one for PNAC.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Weedlekin (836313)
          "The Revolutionary War took place due to a foreign "government" trying to rule US citizens."

          Because, as we all know, the US was established _before_ that war, and everybody was a citizen of it, hence the fact that the later civil war against something called "The Confederacy" was a fiction invented by pseudo-historians to sell books. New Mexico and Texas were of course always part of that US, and not, as these pseudo-historians claim, Mexican territories at that time.
    • by krlynch (158571) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:31PM (#22876866) Homepage
      Actually, this has next to nothing to do with this or any Administration unilaterally ignoring WTO rulings. The issues raised in the article have to do with laws passed by the Congress of the United States. Without the Congress of the United States repealing those laws, the current (or indeed, any future) Administration has no power to do anything about these WTO rulings.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wasted (94866)

        Actually, this has next to nothing to do with this or any Administration unilaterally ignoring WTO rulings. The issues raised in the article have to do with laws passed by the Congress of the United States. Without the Congress of the United States repealing those laws, the current (or indeed, any future) Administration has no power to do anything about these WTO rulings.

        True, but if you look at it that way, the justification for flaming the U.S. and/or Bush is diminished, and the ignorant masses won't be a

    • Given the way this administration has been handling Foreign Policy, this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone ...

      This isn't limited to "this administration" (though they are worse than the last one), this is the USAs' default behavior, and not just for IP (see: lumber dispute with Canada, WTO rulings in favor of Canada, US ignores them).

      I'll be modded down for not acknowledging the absolute divine perfection of America the pure and eternal shining beacon of holiness in all things, but the USA acts as a bully, has been doing for all my life, and long before, but talks as though they didn't.

    • by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:13PM (#22877756)
      The WTO doesn't have authority over these cases. The WTO only covers issues of free trade, it doesn't allow for international groups to override local laws that don't impede trade. In the cases cited, the international interests are being provided with the same level of protection as domestic ones are.

      The Irish musicians are being treated exactly the same way that all other musicians are being treated here, and they are still free to sell their CDs here if people are interested in buying them. You'd be hard pressed to find an actual WTO treaty violation there.

      Likewise the issue of trademark law is an internal issue to the US, these companies are still allowed to sell their goods in the US, they just don't get trademark protection if they're using trademarks which were owned by Cuban businesses. The US has the right to decide what is and is not protected under our trademark law.

      Yes, we're being terribly hypocritical, but the WTO really and truly does not have the authority to force us to make those particular changes.

      Those two issues pale in comparison to the kind of boot legging and piracy that go on in some parts of the world. The WTO itself has been guilty of abusing IP as a means of gaining compliance for things which it hasn't the authority to arbitrate in the first place.

      I know that it's popular with the hate America first groups to make a big deal out of all this, but it's apples and oranges. The US is the leading exporter of IP, of course we're going to be concerned with piracy. But why is it that we can't at least acknowledge that these cases are hardly the same as the rampant piracy in some parts of the world and are hardly appropriate issues for the WTO to arbitrate in the first place.
    • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:19PM (#22877818) Journal
      The attitude that "rules apply to everyone else but not to us" is the single most distinctive aspect of the current US administration. Torture, the Geneva convention, the world court for prosecuting war crimes, illegal bugging of US citizens, the ABM treaty - and that's just what I can think of in a few seconds.
  • by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:56PM (#22876576) Journal
    movie at 11:00....
  • by locokamil (850008) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:56PM (#22876580) Homepage
    News at eleven.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:00PM (#22876606)
    If the WTO wants American politicians to listen them, then they need to pony up with the 'campaign funding' like everyone else.
  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:00PM (#22876614)
    Back in the 80s the US even ignored a ruling from the World Court to cease it's terrorist activities in Nicaragua, which included mining the harbours and putting civilian shipping in great danger. It even ignored the two subsequent UN General Assembly resolutions demanding that it observe the World Court Ruling.

    It basically comes down to this. If you are powerful, you can ignore the rules. If you are not, you may well be in serious trouble.
    • by commodoresloat (172735) * on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:30PM (#22876856)

      Back in the 80s the US even ignored a ruling from the World Court to cease it's terrorist activities in Nicaragua
      The Supreme Court just ruled [google.com] that U.S. states can now pretty much ignore international law at will. It's not clear to me how this affects the federal obligation to obey treaties (which is pretty clear in the Constitution), but at the state level, we'll be seeing a lot more of this sort of thing.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:46PM (#22878020)
        Effect of treaties is NOT clear in the Constitution. In fact, its one of the most long-standing and opaque issues left entirely unresolved (even more so than the 2nd Amendment, or War Powers). Here's a question: If the Senate ratifies a treaty which prohibits free speech, is it Constitutional? A very simplistic interpretation would say so. But of course, that would be absurd. It would be absurd to allow a single House of Congress to do something that otherwise would be impossible without amending the Constitution.

        Part of the problem lies in the fact that, 200 years ago, all treaties merely dealt with how countries dealt with one another, and never affected how a country executed its domestic laws, or treated its domestic citizenry. (Admiralty law, and how extra-territorial citizens were treated is different.) The entire conception of "treaty" has changed. Compounded by the dearth of Supreme Court interpretation of either conception, and it becomes an extremely difficult question.

        That doesn't mean its fair. European countries don't have the same sort of Constitutional governance that America has (we're unique in both the role that the Constitution plays--shared w/ many post-colonial countries, _and_ in how rigorously we attempt to abide by it--shared w/ very few countries). So while European countries are naturally more willing to allow treaties to intrude on domestic governance, the US isn't for very significant political and historical reasons.

        But rather than complain about the "rule of law", and the headaches it causes, wouldn't it be better to praise it? It's a double-edged sword. The European Commission often impedes in the Constitutional spheres of the European Council and Parliament. That's tolerated in Europe far more than it would be here. It might allow for quicker resolution of issues like this sometimes, but its not clear to me that its preferable overall.
  • Well (Score:5, Funny)

    by phoenixwade (997892) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:00PM (#22876616)
    The Federal government here in the US is allowing corporate interests to screw us, it's citizens, why not the rest of the world too? At least it's consistent.
  • Who cares really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by knivesx11 (1085179) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:03PM (#22876650)
    The big problem with the WTO is that it exists to try to find equities in other peoples laws. In my country its legal to do something that might be illegal in yours. The problem with that is that its great when people are talking about physical properties, however its much more difficult when dealing with the same disputes on intellectual property. If I play a radio in my work than its the station that sells advertisements that pays for the songs. As long as I don't advertise the fact like some kind of main street concert hall than I'm not sure why it matters.
    • Paying for radio? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Neuticle (255200) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:02PM (#22877144) Homepage
      If I play a radio in my work than its the station that sells advertisements that pays for the songs. As long as I don't advertise the fact like some kind of main street concert hall than I'm not sure why it matters.



      Exactly. How is Europe so completely backwards on this issue? Every pair of ears that listens to the songs is a pair of ears that listens to the ads as well, and those ads pay the bills. I would think the radio stations and music labels would be GLAD to have people listening to them in workplaces and waiting rooms.

      If these laws were enforced in the USA, there would be riots, then it would be silence or royalty-free classical music only.

      What bureaucratic knot did they invent to justify why should it cost money if you listen in a place of business when it's designed to be a free-to-receive service?

      • by Mr2001 (90979) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:47PM (#22877492) Homepage Journal

        How is Europe so completely backwards on this issue?
        I agree about the radio royalties. It's absurd that I can listen to my radio for free, and you can listen to your radio for free, and all of our friends can listen to their radios for free, but then if we all meet up together and listen to the same radio, suddenly someone has to get paid for it.

        However, let's not lose sight of the point here, which is the double standard. We have some pretty absurd requests of other countries too, and if we expect them to go along with our absurd requests, we're going to have to go along with theirs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jackan (1263032)
        Actually.... In the US BMI collects royalties from every place that plays music in a money making environment.
        The only way around this is if every song played is live, and by the person that wrote it.

        Regards, Jack
  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:05PM (#22876662)

    "As the stakes continue to grow in the intellectual property arena,


    growing?

    what fantasy world are these guys living in?

    Sure the number of IP claims are going up, but the value to the public is clearly going down, and p2p isnt going anywhere.

    They can claim "growing stakes" all they wish, but the voracity of their claims extend only as far as the walls of their ivory towers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      but the voracity of their claims extend only as far as the walls of their ivory towers.
      The veracity of their claims only extends to the walls of their ivory towers, but the voracity extends throughout the whole world :-)
  • by laughingcoyote (762272) <barghesthowl@exc ... m minus caffeine> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:12PM (#22876708) Journal

    Yes, there is likely hypocrisy in this on the part of the US, but "do as I say, not as I do" on the part of the US is not news to anyone here. What I am glad to see, though, is that most countries seem to have some willingness to ignore at least some of the ridiculousness inherent in "intellectual property" law. The idea that ideas can be owned and hoarded is dying, and anything that hastens its demise is fine by me. How can one hoard ideas in a world where knowledge, information, and media are simply at the end of one's fingertips on a keyboard?

  • Autonomy (Score:4, Informative)

    by treesloth (1095251) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:24PM (#22876802)
    I really don't see the problem. Member nations are autonomous. Any compliance with demands from the World Court, the UN or the WTO is strictly voluntary for any nation. Their real authority is precisely whatever the member nations decide. That's not just for the US-- it's for any member nation of any such organization. Orders from the UN and similar groups really just don't matter unless they can back them up-- and they can't. I prefer it that way, honestly. The UN and WTO are a bit too socialistic for my tastes, but that's just me.
    • Re:Autonomy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by A beautiful mind (821714) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @01:59AM (#22878794)

      The UN and WTO are a bit too socialistic for my tastes, but that's just me.
      You have to be really on the right end of the fascist scale to claim that the WTO is socialist, given that it was created by the USA to serve the interests of capitalism.
  • This is rich (Score:3, Informative)

    by dedazo (737510) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:35PM (#22876906) Journal
    From TFA:

    The so-called "Irish Music" dispute concerns the portion of US copyright law that lets restaurants and shops play broadcast music without compensating the copyright holders. As previous coverage of this issue shows, Europe takes a fairly hard-line stance on these payments; a UK car repair chain was even targeted by collecting societies because its mechanics played their radios loud enough that customers could hear them.

    Pretty much the very group of people for whom this is an anathema are taking the opportunity to complain that the US has not implemented this draconian bullshit because, well, it's fun to say "the US ignores what it doesn't like".

    The chuckle factor is definitely high here.

  • by nrlightfoot (607666) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:51PM (#22877050) Homepage
    I am very glad that businesses here don't need to pay $30,000 a year to play the radio where customers can hear it. It's nice when our government protects us from abusive regulations, even if it doesn't happen very often.
    • by plasmacutter (901737) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:00PM (#22877122)
      It happens all the time, but only when the "us" referred to make over 1 million dollars gross income per year and provide "campaign contributions" to the relevant lawmakers.

      for the rest of us there's:
      the dmca
      local monopoly power for ISP's
      rubber stamped mergers across the board (you have freedom of choice! you can choose "the x company" or nothing at all!)
      the real id act
      the patriot act
      warrantless wiretapping and retroactive immunity when we sue for it
      continuous streams of supreme court rulings which invalidate the crumbling constitution (see anything signed by souter)
      the rise of the fourth estate, which is now so in bed with the government it may as well be state run.

       
  • by LaskoVortex (1153471) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:58PM (#22877108)

    US trade policy is self-serving, we all know that. But couldn't the author provide some good examples to really make the point? These are pretty weak:

    • The so-called "Irish Music" dispute concerns the portion of US copyright law that lets restaurants and shops play broadcast music without compensating the copyright holders.
      => I would be willing to wager that most everyone commenting on this thread would consider that fair use.
    • The Havana Club issues stems from the long-standing US effort to impose sanctions on Cuba.
      => Weren't the trade sanctions against Cuba put there and don't they remain there in part because of Cuban human rights abuses? The governments calling USA to task on this have companies which have "invested in Cuban business". The trademarks are not protected in the US to limit Cuban companies profiting from these trademarks in the US. If other countries want to sell their rum in the US under a protected trademark, they seem free to use a different trademark. Whether US trade sanctions against Cuba are moral or justified is a different issue from IP.
    • The second case concerns Antigua and Barbuda, a small Caribbean country home to all sorts of online vices, including gambling and DRM circumvention. Antigua took the US to the WTO years ago over charges that the US was unfairly criminalizing access to Antiguan gambling websites...
      => Legal gambling outfits in the US follow strict gambling laws that regulate, among other things, machine calibration, payout ratios, etc. Online gambling from other countries is outlawed in the USA because the mechanisms to ensure fairness can not be physically confirmed by government representatives.
    • China crisis (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:38PM (#22877404)
      Weren't the trade sanctions against Cuba put there and don't they remain there in part because of Cuban human rights abuses?

      Yes. That explains those extensive sanctions against China too.

      Oh, hang on ...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by freedom_india (780002)

      Cuban human rights abuses

      So you say Guantanamo Military Base is run by Cuban Military??? Wow! You are dumber than i thought.
      Secondly, if US has the moral right to impose sanctions on cuba & iran due to huma rights violations, should it not do the same to Saudi Arabia (flogging, etc), Pakistan, New Iraq, Kuwait (where women are nit allowed to vote)?
      Anyway, what's wrong with other countries demanding US play by the same rules they are asked to follow in the same place?
      Remember Super 501 laws? Which allowed US to turn around and

  • It's True (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bullfish (858648) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:59PM (#22877118)
    The US has more trade agreements with Canada than any other country and in Canada's experience it is absolutely true. The US government's negotiators howl about DRM, our approach to health care, pharmacuticals, gay marriage, drug "leniency" etc, etc while ignoring rluling after ruling not just by the WTO, but by the NAFTA boards, and other committees that supposedly govern bilateral trade. Largely they do it because they can get away with it.

    I have no doubt that the US will recover from it's financial woes. The world economy is changing though, and competition for resources is increasing. The US's negotiating position is changing as well. Instead of being the one of a few major buyers of commodities, they are now among many. Ignoring multilateral trade rulings as a routine is going to end as a consequence. At least if the US government is smart about it.
  • by metoc (224422) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:55PM (#22877598)
    Both Canada and Mexico have similar problems when it comes to the USA not complying with WTO rulings. These will be on the table if NAFTA is renegotiated.
  • No. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kamapuaa (555446) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:32PM (#22877910) Homepage
    The so-called "Irish Music" dispute concerns the portion of US copyright law that lets restaurants and shops play broadcast music without compensating the copyright holders. As previous coverage of this issue shows, Europe takes a fairly hard-line stance on these payments; a UK car repair chain was even targeted by collecting societies because its mechanics played their radios loud enough that customers could hear them.

    I don't own an American restaurant, but in Slashdot's constant whining about the RIAA, one of the whines I hear is that restaurants have to pay copyright holders to play music at their radio, and how the RIAA even pays people to go to restaurants and mark down whether or not their is RIAA music being played. I know that music venues with live bands covering RIAA music are responsible. So I doubt this example is even true.

    And as far as Havana Club goes - I agree the US is in the wrong, and furthermore I'm not a resident of the US and think the Havana Club 7 is about as good as rum gets. However a further issue is that in the US, the copyright was granted to the family that owned the rum, before the Cuban government nationalized the factory and the family fleed to the US. Let me repeat: it was a family business that was stolen by the government. So I think it's reasonable that the family should be able to hold on to (and eventually sell) their rights to the name - or at least, I can sympathize.

    The author of he article doesn't do himself any favors with his tone, rather than an impartial reporter he comes across as a whiny teenager. I guess samzenpus is new, and already I'm rooting for him to go the way of michael and timothy.

  • Sigh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:51PM (#22878050)

    Problems like this go back long before Bush and Cheney (though they've refined the whole arrogance/prickishness thing to the status of art): one set of rules for the United States, another set for everybody else. And yet, for some reason, Americans feel hurt and a little bewildered when they find out how unpopular they are in the rest of the world. The comfortable answer is, "Everybody envies us because we're just so absolutely wonderful". The actual answer is that this kind of behaviour makes it easy to be disliked.

    Americans have long made a point of passing themselves off as Canadians when traveling abroad (even to the point of wearing the Maple Leaf). Unfortunately they persist in acting like Americans, which is giving Canadians a bad name, especially in Europe. Or (as has happened to me in England on two occasions) you get politely grilled about All Things Canadian and eventually asked flat-out to show some ID proving you're from the Bigger Colder Place.

    I'm not sure how to fix the problem when the overwhelming majority of Americans don't even believe that there is one, but it really needs to be addressed unless the United States wants to become increasingly isolated and ignored on the international stage.

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