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Ambassador Claims ACTA Secrecy Necessary 407

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the censorship-is-tricky dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "According to Ambassador Ron Kirk, the head of US Trade Representatives, the secrecy around the ACTA copyright treaty is necessary because without that secrecy, people would be 'walking away from the table.' If you don't remember, that treaty is the one where leaks indicate that it may contain all sorts of provisions for online copyright enforcement, like a global DMCA with takedown and anti-circumvention restrictions, three-strikes laws to terminate offending internet connections, and copyright cops. FOIA requests for the treaty text have been rebuffed over alleged 'national security' concerns. One can only hope that what he has said is true and that sites like Wikileaks will help tear down the veil of secrecy behind which they're negotiating our future."
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Ambassador Claims ACTA Secrecy Necessary

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  • The question is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ltap (1572175) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:27AM (#30353392) Homepage
    If it's an international treaty, then why is the secrecy a "national security" matter?
    • by jandoedel (1149947) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:37AM (#30353520)
      it must be INTERNATIONAL SECURITY then. Which obviously means that we have to coöperate to protect Earth from extraterrestrial threats. Intergalactic pirates trying to steal our music. Must be.
      • by bill_kress (99356) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:26PM (#30354196)

        it must be INTERNATIONAL SECURITY then. Which obviously means that we have to coöperate to protect Earth from extraterrestrial threats. Intergalactic pirates trying to steal our music. Must be.

        All your bass are belong to us?

        I, for one, welcome our new pirate-friendly overlords. SERIOUSLY.

        • by dnahelicase (1594971) on Monday December 07, 2009 @03:33PM (#30356644)

          Why would you "walk away from the table" if an international treaty was being drawn up that affected you? Maybe Mr. Kirk needs to call a bluff?

          Government: "People are getting upset, we need to open up about what we are talking about"

          Content Owners: "No! They aren't going to like it. You're only helping the pirates! Only the pirates would object! Whine! Whine! If you want to talk to them, then we'll just leave!

          Government: "Crap! They said they would leave! Hush up! Down with the pirates!"

          seriously...if someone would walk away from an agreement just because it is "out in the open" then they are either not representing their constituency or they are really able to gain a competitive advantage by screwing someone else. Everyone that matters would want a say regardless. International politics are not hard to understand - ever observed a kindergarten class?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by davester666 (731373)

        It's because one countries starting position is so ridiculous, it's embarrassing for other countries to be seen even acknowledging it.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:57AM (#30353802) Homepage Journal

      Well, since we're talking about the entertainment industry, it's obviously National Security theater.

      In other words, it's bullshit spouted by pathological liars.

    • by Late Adopter (1492849) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:04PM (#30353906)
      It's not national security as such. Here's the relevant excerpt from a statement from the USTR in response to the article (from the Wired article linked from TFA):

      The Administration also recognizes that confidentiality in international negotiations among sovereign entities is the standard practice to enable officials to engage in frank exchanges of views, positions, and specific negotiating proposals, and thereby facilitate the negotiation and compromise that are necessary to reach agreement on complex issues. A unilateral release of text by one trading partner would risk breaching the mutual trust that is important to successful trade negotiations.

      International politics is an insanely complex and yet dreadfully boring game played by suits behind closed doors. I'm not personally advocating secrecy, but welcome to the status quo.

      • by Late Adopter (1492849) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:11PM (#30353996)
        The grounds used to deny the FOIA request were 5 USC 552(b)(1), which states (bolded for emphasis):

        (b) This section does not apply to matters that are--

        (1)(A) specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and (B) are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order;

        People interpreted that as meaning national security, but it clearly means foreign policy in this instance.

        • by Znork (31774) on Monday December 07, 2009 @02:11PM (#30355658)

          but it clearly means foreign policy in this instance.

          And like most classified material it actually means 'in the interest of protecting the people involved from political embarrassment'.

          But it's great way to launder policy; take an internal policy for which you have no democratic political support, push it in a secret international forum as 'foreign policy', then take it back home and adopt it, claiming it's an international treaty requirement. Great way to bypass any democratic forms.

      • by afidel (530433) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:22PM (#30354146)
        Sorry, but international politics is no different from national politics, the less light that is shown on the process the more mold that grows in the form of graft, theft, and one sided favoritism for the elites and their supporters. If the process can't hold up to scrutiny then it doesn't need to take place at all.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gutnor (872759)
          I agree with you, however to play devil advocate, the only problem is that the people negociating are human being.

          The problem with negociating publicly is it will push some parties to do some public statement to their countries: for example, saying that they will never approve X or that they will fight for Y. Pure human psychology, it seems that when you declare publicly something it is kind of hard to publicly switch your position. It makes you look weak. So keeping stuff secret, especially at internati
        • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:56PM (#30355482)

          Sorry, but international politics is no different from national politics,

          Not really. Generally, Texans Senators re not worried that Californians are spying on them to steal trade secrets or are trying to use Austin as a beachhead for a full-blown invasion. This means that negotiations between national entities are far more complex: you know you can't be seen talking to the enemy, but at the same, you have to find a way to talk anyway. Why do you think that the Swiss Embassy is a popular stop-over for Iranian, Venezuelan and US officers?

          Granted, your full quote makes sense - but unfortunately, there are a lot of forces at work in foreign relations that make secrecy a sine-qua-non condition for any talking happening at all. And I'd rather people talk than be forced out in the open and be silent.

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:31PM (#30354270)

        (from the quote)

        confidentiality in international negotiations among sovereign entities is the standard practice to enable officials to engage in frank exchanges of views, positions, and specific negotiating proposals

        So in other words, they feel comfortable talking frankly and freely with other nation's representatives and the representatives of corporations, but not their voters?

        Makes you think, doesn't it?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Eskarel (565631)

          You make the presumption they all have voters.

          The sad thing about foreign policy is that it's a game that sometimes it's hard to get players for. While there's certainly an argument that the US position should be made public to the US voters, if the US government made the position of say the Chinese or the Russian or whoever the hell else is at this thing's position public to the US voters, the leaders of those countries might refuse to continue negotiations.

          If you're a typical "Information wants to be free

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sjames (1099)

            The sad thing about foreign policy is that it's a game that sometimes it's hard to get players for. While there's certainly an argument that the US position should be made public to the US voters, if the US government made the position of say the Chinese or the Russian or whoever the hell else is at this thing's position public to the US voters, the leaders of those countries might refuse to continue negotiations.

            GOOD! I'd rather it die here and now than become subject to a secret agreement. It's not like this is a disarmament negotiation where genuine issues of national security might be at stake.

      • by daemonburrito (1026186) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:32PM (#30355190) Journal

        It is not the status quo. This fact is critical for context.

        Read the discussion on boingboing [boingboing.net], where you'll find a conversation with both Cory Doctorow and the author. This negotiation is a departure from the norm, and it is precisely due to the trouble that people like Doctorow caused the last time around, afaict.

      • by sabt-pestnu (967671) on Monday December 07, 2009 @02:28PM (#30355862)

        Interesting, true, but (FTFA) ...

        it was untrue that IPR negotiations are normally secret, mentioning as examples that drafts of the other IPR texts, including the proposed WIPO treaty for disabilities and the climate change agreement language on IPR, as well as several drafts of the FTAA text and the 1996 WIPO copyright treaties had been public. Kirk said that ACTA "was different" and the topics being negotiated in ACTA were "more complex."

        Perhaps because instead of dealing with nations, they were dealing with corporations? "Corporate paymaster" tin hat comments aside, the corporations may simply not have as many cut-outs as they like in this discussion.

        Don't imagine that even public sessions are innocent affairs [eff.org].

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wizardforce (1005805)

      When the state considers its citizens the enemy, treaties like this are kept secret for "national security" reasons from the "enemy" that is to say the public, not other states.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet (841228)

      Didn't you read? The good people at the mega corps they are whoring themselves out to would "walk away from the table"! Good God man, can't just let the corporate masters walk away like that! What are you crazy? How dare the corporate masters not get everything they want!!! The trade reps haven't gotten done kissing the booty NOR cashing the checks!

      Seriously though, can we all just start calling this thing the "total whoring" bill and be done with it? Because just from what little we have seen leaked so far

  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:29AM (#30353418) Homepage
    Just saying that such a statement seems like a quiet -- yet deniable -- way to ask folks to tear down the secrecy. If he really wanted it to survive, you'd assume he'd be a tiny bit more subtle than, "If this shit is known, this treaty is fucked."
    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:42AM (#30353578) Homepage Journal

      If he really wanted it to survive, you'd assume he'd be a tiny bit more subtle than, "If this shit is known, this treaty is fucked."

      Can't get your way? Lie. That's what sociopaths are supposed to do, isn't it? How in the hell could copyright have anything whatever to do with national security?

      How stupid do they think we are?

      • by baKanale (830108) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:08PM (#30353956)

        How stupid do they think we are?

        Very. For the most part they'd be right.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        Can't get your way? Lie. That's what sociopaths are supposed to do, isn't it? How in the hell could copyright have anything whatever to do with national security?

        How stupid do they think we are?

        It's not that they think we are stupid, it's that the Slashdot crowd is dumb as shit and doesn't even know it.

        The statute they cited offers two reasons to rebuff an FOIA request:

        The first is national defense, obviously that does not apply.

        The second is foreign policy concerns, however since this is an... international... treaty... oh shit, fuck me! An international treaty would be a foreign policy concern!

        Good god you people are stupid.

        What I find interesting is how Obama promised the most transparent gover

    • Also funny (Score:5, Funny)

      by Halo1 (136547) <jonas.maebe@el[ ]ugent.be ['is.' in gap]> on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:13PM (#30354022) Homepage

      When the FFII asked the EU Council of Ministers for opening up the documents regarding the ACTA negotiations, the Council refused [ffii.org], with (a.o.) the argument that this "might affect relations with the third parties concerned".

      So the US can't release it because others might object, and the EU can't for the same reason. Inquiring minds want to know which mysterious third country is kicking both the US and the EU into submission. Canada?

  • by DeeVeeAnt (1002953) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:29AM (#30353424)
    That would be a bad thing? How exactly?
    • by LordSkout (1427763) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:40AM (#30353546)
      It would be a bad thing to those who are trying to get make this garbage law. By all appearances, any scrutiny of these plans would inflame the public's ire, and anyone with a public image to care about would not want to collect this kind of tarnish. We can only hope the two senators calling for transparency get some kind of traction going, but Big Media has money in so many pockets, it might be frivolous.
  • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:29AM (#30353426) Homepage

    Otherwise people would know the extent and bounds of the laws, and avoid breaking them.
    Police states need lots of secret laws.

    • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:07PM (#30353950)

      They don't need to be secret ; they just need to be complex and numerous. You and I probably already broke several laws today, without realising it. Unhappily for us, ignorance is not a defence.

      A state that keeps it's law secret wouldn't be bothered about due process either - because they couldn't try these cases in the open, for fear of revealing these laws. At this point, you're just disappearing people you don't like, so you don't need laws, secret or otherwise. The one law becomes "don't piss off The Man".

      Of course, there is a point where you just have the appearance of justice. Perhaps we're approaching it. Perhaps we've passed it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      With the ability to fabricate arbitrary evidence, the laws need not be secret. The scary thing about a police state isn't that people disappear without explanation...it's that explanation is manufactured upon demand.

  • Well then (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alphanos (596595) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:32AM (#30353466)

    If the contents of this treaty are so abhorrent that politicians cannot survive being associated with it, then that seems like a great reason why everyone should walk away from the table.

    • Re:Well then (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:38AM (#30353522) Journal

      What do the negotiations matter? The politicians, or most of them, aren't usually involved in negotiations anyways. What counts is the ratification. That's where the politicians wear it.

      ACTA may be the worst thing to come along... or not. We will all find out when our national governments begin debates on it. That will suck if you live in a place like China, where the technocrats will decide, but in places like the US and Europe, well, those are democracies states, and there will be debates. But negotiations have to have a certain amount of privacy and autonomy. How else would you even reach agreement?

      • by langelgjm (860756) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:56AM (#30353778) Journal

        What do the negotiations matter? The politicians, or most of them, aren't usually involved in negotiations anyways. What counts is the ratification. That's where the politicians wear it.

        Well, ratification would count, except that in the U.S., ACTA is being negotiated as an executive agreement, and thus doesn't require ratification by Congress.

        A few Congresspeople have sent a letter to Obama expressing their concern over the secrecy of the treaty, but others are just parroting the line about protecting American business and innovation, etc.

        I agree there are good reasons for some negotiations to be kept private, then ratified later. However, when there is no ratification, the negotiation is entirely secret and simply presented to us as a fait accompli, where is the opportunity for public involvement and comment?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Late Adopter (1492849)

          Well, ratification would count, except that in the U.S., ACTA is being negotiated as an executive agreement, and thus doesn't require ratification by Congress.

          There are 3 types of treaties, "Treaties" proper, as defined under the Constitution requiring 2/3 Senate approval, congressional-executive agreements, which are negotiated by the Executive (President), and implemented by Congress by simple majority in both houses as if they were ordinary laws, and sole-executive agreements, which are negotiated and implemented by the Executive branch limited to the manners in which they have authority to do so (instructing the FBI not to enforce certain laws, for example).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rockoon (1252108)

        How else would you even reach agreement?

        Have something agreeable to agree on.

      • Re:Well then (Score:4, Insightful)

        by khallow (566160) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:58AM (#30353808)

        What do the negotiations matter?

        Because that is where the treaty is constructed. Ratification can potentially occur without substantial debate. The sooner that the details of the treaty are known, the better the terms in my view.

      • Re:Well then (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:09PM (#30353980) Homepage Journal

        You're either joking, or you wear rose colored glasses.

        That will suck if you live in a place like China, where the technocrats will decide, but in places like the US and Europe, well, those are democracies states, and there will be debates

        Yeah, like the debates on the PATRIOT act, the Bono act, the DMCA? Dream on, son. Your vote is meaningless. You have two Senators and one representative you can vote for, Time-Warner gets to vote for ALL the Senators, all the congressmen, and all their opponents.

        Debate? Yeah, I liked the debates I heard between all five viable* Presidential candidates last election. Oh wait...

        * Five parties had their candidates on the ballots in enough states to win, had those candidates actually been reported by the corporate media. Most people think they only have two choices and that a vote for anyone else is wasted, thanks to corporate propaganda spewed by corporate media.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          >>>Time-Warner gets to vote for ALL the Senators, all the congressmen, and all their opponents.

          Then maybe the time has come for the People to rise-up an cut off the Tyrant(s)' Head. No more peaceful protests with waving sings; they don't do any good. Time to scare the ____ out of the CEOs, and take back what is ours

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:32AM (#30353468)

    I'll be glad when we have a new president!

    • Re:F*CKING BUSH!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sanosuke001 (640243) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:35PM (#30354340)
      whoever modded this funny should re-evaluate the state of affairs. Obama is no different than Bush; those of you who saw the next coming of the messiah were shortsighted and ignorant. Those of you who are now saying, "I told you my vote for McCain was right" are just as shortsighted and ignorant if not more so as he would have been just as bad, if not worse.

      The only difference between Obama and McCain is that McCain is up front with his tactics; Obama just flat out lied.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Should any draft treaty in Copenhagen be published as it goes, along with all views from all the parties and what they are willing to agree to or not through the negotiations?

    As in any other area of life, this is yet another example of "when you want something then create moral laws that give it to you, but when those laws don't work in your favour then forget them".

  • by tkrotchko (124118) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:34AM (#30353490) Homepage

    If people will walk away from the table if they become associated with the effort, then what does it tell you about the effort?

    It tells me that ACTA is something that companies want to increase their profits without the bad publicity of trying to throw their "customers" in jail.

    Perhaps it's better if we stopped the charade here.

  • by PakProtector (115173) <cevkiv@gmaDALIil.com minus painter> on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:34AM (#30353494) Journal

    I am an American Citizen. Not a taxpayer. Not a consumer. A citizen.

    My government no longer has my consent to government. I only obey laws out of fear of punishment, not because I believe that such behaviors is correct and moral.

    I feel that those who represent us in this country have long ago forgotten the best interests of those they serve, the People, or more correctly, have just decided that it's more profitable serving Corporations and sacrificing essential freedoms for temporary security and monetary reward.

    The only way this kind of stupidity and evil will end is with revolution. From time to time the Tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of Patriots and Tyrants, or however the exact original goes.

    The Government's only purpose is to serve the people, to do for them what they as individuals cannot do for themselves: Infrastructure, Sanitation, Hospitals, and Emergency Services springing immediately to mind.

    The Government of the United States has increasingly grown bloated, incompetent, and has increasingly sold out the rights of its Citizens to corporate interests.

    We were once the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. Now we are the land of timid sheep, beholden to our corporate masters, constantly sacrificing our necessary freedoms to protect Children who would better be protected by their parents actually doing their job and parenting, and to protect us from Foreign threats caused by our own meddling in the affairs of other nations.

    It's time to realize that the problem is not whether the politician in the White House is Black or White, Male or Female, Democrat or Republican or Independent.

    The problem is that there is a politician in the White House, instead of a Citizen-Servant who is First Among Equals, not elevated to the status of Royalty.

    We must abolish the Federal Government as it currently stands and return to the ideals of the Founding Fathers on which they attempted to create a nation: The Inalienable Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    No one should have the right to restrict my freedom to do as I wish so long as I do not materially harm another human being.

    Down with the Tyrants.

    • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:39AM (#30353540)

      agreed with all you said.

      we need more people to see thru the 'BS cloud'.

      we need democracy 2.0. 1.0 is bug ridden and ceases to function, at this point. the only thing working IN favor of government is that they're too large to really do the evil they want to do, effectively. imagine the harm this government could do if they really had their act together? scary!

      sadly, I don't expect a revolution in our lifetime timeframe. we would have to hit rock-bottom for americans to take to the streets. we've been softened by TV and 'gaming' and other distractions for a long time. we would not know what it means to 'take to the streets' and those in power know this and depend on it.

      our system sort of worked about 200 yrs ago. its not at all working now. the sooner we re-invent ourselves, the better. but again, it won't happen because - just because ;(

      • by FatSean (18753) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:44AM (#30353610) Homepage Journal

        It worked because 200 years ago the only people who had say in gov't were wealthy white land owning men. A fairly homogeneous class that didn't have too many internal divisions. Now-a-days we have a huge spectrum of voters which makes it much harder to agree on anything.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

          It worked because 200 years ago the only people who had say in gov't were wealthy white land owning men. A fairly homogeneous class that didn't have too many internal divisions. Now-a-days we have a huge spectrum of voters which makes it much harder to agree on anything.

          And yet, almost all of them seem to agree to limit their votes to two parties.

          • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:41PM (#30355280) Journal

            No they don't. Look at turnout for US elections: apathy has had more votes than the winning party in most US elections in the last decade or two. In the UK, we have a few parties that get a decent number of votes, although not enough to control the government, and so although we get higher turnout the winner still gets fewer votes than the number of people who don't vote.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

              No they don't. Look at turnout for US elections: apathy has had more votes than the winning party

              A non-vote is a vote for the two ruling parties.

      • by ckaminski (82854) <ckaminski&pobox,com> on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:46AM (#30353632) Homepage
        Oh please. Our system is "working" just fine. 95% of American's get plenty to eat (too much, including me). We get fresh clean water at a moments notice - even the poorest among us can get free clean water. We can even manage jobs for 30+ million illegal immigrants.

        America has problems, but to spout revolutionary rhetoric over copyright laws is just as silly as the mountain men in Montana holed up with 100s of guns and 10 years of canned food. It's just that, rhetoric. Stop being an ostrich, a sheep - get involved, get your friends involved. Let your elected officials know exactly how you feel. You are but one voice, but one voice among many - motivate them.

        Politics isn't just for the politicians, you know.
        • by PakProtector (115173) <cevkiv@gmaDALIil.com minus painter> on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:08PM (#30353954) Journal

          Sadly, you seem to have missed the entire point.

          If you are merely satisfied with having enough calories per day and enough clean water to continue surviving, that's fine. Some of us, however, feel that more than mere physical necessities are necessary for our happiness. Free discourse, without threat of retribution or harm, the freedom to travel as we see fit without the Government saying who may or may not go where based on how politically 'risky' they may be (as the TSA watch-list brings back memories of McCarthy era communist-blacklists), and the ability to be allowed to live our lives in peace so long as we harm no one.

          The Government may not punish us for what we may do. It may only punish for what we have done. You cannot lock a man up on suspicion of likelihood of his committing murder, only once he has in fact attempted or committed said murder.

          The attitude of the common people, the faex populi, is that security can be purchased. We have been lulled into believing that the world can be made 'safe.' Life in inherently unsafe. Being 'free' means that you give up security.

          We are coming all too quickly to a nation where papers are required to move about, where every single aspect of our lives is monitored by the Government for 'suspect' information exchange, and where we, Human Beings, are being treated as commodities and resources to be traded, purchased, and sold, instead of being treated as Human Beings, with inherent dignity and with respect afforded to us.

          One need look no further than any modern corporation and its "Human Resources" department to see this mindset. I am not a resource. I am a human being. We have been desensitised to the callous manner in which we commonly treat each other. We have lost, as a nation, the concept of personal responsibility for our actions. There is always someone to blame.

          The death of Democracy (which we are, in fact, not -- we are a representative republic) is that of scapegoating.

          The People want their bread and circuses. They want someone to blame when things seem bad, be it the Anarchists, the Communists, the Pinko-Commie-Sympathisers in Hollywood, the Hippies, the Socialists, the Terrorists. These targets are paraded in front of the people to drum up the necessary excuse for the acquisition of greater and greater power by the Government. The Government does not need to read my e-mail, or tell me what weapons I may and may not own. If people truly wanted to be safe from gun-totting madmen, the easiest way to do so would to arm everyone so that as soon as a man opened fire on a crowd, everyone in that crowd would be able to respond in kind.

          If people truly cared about the lives and living conditions of prostitutes/sex-workers, they would legalise prostitution so that pimps cannot beat their girls without fear of the girls going to the police, so that prostitutes would not be raped in back alleys because their trade would take place in safety and not in secret.

          The right to swing one's fist ends where the other man's nose begins. Likewise, the right to dictate correct behaviour ends where your body ends. Murder is not a curtailment of one's freedom (as something being illegal does not stop anyone from doing it), but is a protection of the freedom of others to remain unmolested in their person.

          You, and the people like you, are what have driven this country to the dire straits it is in. Government is not a good, sir. It is a necessary evil. It must necessarily, therefore, be kept as small, impotent, and powerless as it can be.

          We need no great standing army to defend our nation. If every man and woman who has reached the age of majority was required, as in at least one country I can think of, to keep in their home a fully automatic military weapon, then any invading force would be met with resistance the likes of which our standing army with its tanks and planes and bombs could not match.

          The only true way to security is through freedom -- the freedom of the

          • by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:42PM (#30354460)

            We need no great standing army to defend our nation. If every man and woman who has reached the age of majority was required, as in at least one country I can think of, to keep in their home a fully automatic military weapon, then any invading force would be met with resistance the likes of which our standing army with its tanks and planes and bombs could not match.

            While I do agree with many of your sentiments, technology has rendered the citizen-militia / obscenely-funded-military balance untenable. Other nations can muster weapons of such power that assault rifles become a laughable response. Your assumption that an invader has to occupy - and therefore engage in the kind of warfare which USA is waging in Iraq - is false (also note that even though Iraqis had a lot of AK-47s in pretty much every house, their "liberation" was crammed down their throats despite of that, with millions of refugees and hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed). I case of vast riches hoarded by a population armed only with anti-personnel weapons, a nation-state enemy has only to employ a sufficiently powerful WMD system with reasonably short lived post-effects. Then there are also issues of naval blockades etc.

            So clearly something beyond the home-kept assault rifles and RPGs is required.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          America has problems, but to spout revolutionary rhetoric over copyright laws is just as silly

          and until they come for YOU (by mistake or othewise) things are just Fine and Dandy(tm), yeah?

          let me guess, you're a 20something who thinks things are 'just fine'.

          wait until you see a bit more of the world and its reality. the time to worry about our trend is now, not later.

          but I see your point; you have enough NOW to eat and your TV has not shut itself off and your gaming console still works. you have a mall to

        • by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:25PM (#30354176)

          Oh please. Our system is "working" just fine. 95% of American's get plenty to eat (too much, including me). We get fresh clean water at a moments notice - even the poorest among us can get free clean water. We can even manage jobs for 30+ million illegal immigrants.

          Unfortunately this is a completely wrong measuring stick. By this metrics, one could claim that Roman Empire was "working" just peachy (just as long as you were not a slave or somehow crossed the rich and important), as any and every medieval tin-pot kingdom (just as long as you were nobility), all the way to Nazi Germany (as long as you were Arian and did not oppose the Fascists), Soviet Union (as long as you were not a dissident) ... and the USA (as long as you were not a slave, a Native and as long as there is enough foreigners to get fleeced/invaded/robbed to keep your show going).

          In fact every despotic nation in history could claim the same you do at one time or another (usually at the apex of pillaging conquests of other nations, be it military or economic), that people in it had "plenty to eat". As a matter of fact, Iran and China can make the same claim today - clean water and food are available to pretty much everyone in both.

        • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:41PM (#30358090)

          Oh please. Our system is "working" just fine. 95% of American's get plenty to eat (too much, including me). We get fresh clean water at a moments notice - even the poorest among us can get free clean water. We can even manage jobs for 30+ million illegal immigrants.

          My cat gets plenty to eat, fresh clean water at a moments notice (she'll let you know). And, she has a "job" keeping rodents away. But... she desperately wants to go outside, and I won't let her. She doesn't have Freedom, she has creature comforts.

      • by IBBoard (1128019)

        Democracy 2.0 may look prettier, but it'll use new technologies that aren't so widely supported at first, it'll do extra effects that do nothing beneficial and are purely superficial, and it'll slow to a crawl when attempted with anything that isn't from the past couple of years. Are you sure you want Democracy 2.0? ;)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by erroneus (253617)

          The trouble with Democracy 2.0 is that it will be designed with "Rights Management." May as well call it "Government Vista."

    • by nomadic (141991) <[nomadicworld] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:55AM (#30353766) Homepage
      I feel that those who represent us in this country have long ago forgotten the best interests of those they serve, the People, or more correctly, have just decided that it's more profitable serving Corporations and sacrificing essential freedoms for temporary security and monetary reward.

      I would like to point out that if you are anyone other than a white male in this country, you currently enjoy far more freedom than at any point in our country's history.

      We must abolish the Federal Government as it currently stands and return to the ideals of the Founding Fathers on which they attempted to create a nation: The Inalienable Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

      The problem is that there is a politician in the White House, instead of a Citizen-Servant who is First Among Equals, not elevated to the status of Royalty

      The only president we've ever had who arguably wasn't a politician is, and this is just arguable, was George Washington. Everybody after him has been a politician.

      No one should have the right to restrict my freedom to do as I wish so long as I do not materially harm another human being.

      Alright, this is NOT what the Founding Fathers believed in. If this is what you want, fine, I actually agree that ideally this should be the goal of our society (though I would add "harm another living thing unnecessarily"), but our Founding Fathers would NOT agree with this.
    • by jockeys (753885)
      fuck yeah. That's the single most sensible post I've ever read on /.
    • I agree with what you said. There are too many politicians in the whitehouse and congress and not enough civil-servants. Indeed, there are too many politicians in the state legislature, and with Palin as an example, there are often too many politicians running our towns too.

      The eternal question is, what is the solution?

      What's a real, and by real I mean enforceable and fair, way to keep "politicians" out of government? You can start a bloody revolution(most extreme example, I know there are degrees of
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Nobody will revolt as long as food, shelter, television and mind altering drugs are cheap and widely available. Even in places like Haiti, which has much worse conditions than the USA, no significant part of the population is revolting.

      That being said, I'm skeptical that our new soviet planners in the Congress of Goldman Sachs can continue that happy situation indefinitely. Central economic planning tends to fail eventually.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by david.given (6740)

      I feel that those who represent us in this country have long ago forgotten the best interests of those they serve, the People, or more correctly, have just decided that it's more profitable serving Corporations and sacrificing essential freedoms for temporary security and monetary reward.

      The government is not some strange alien entity living in Washington. The government is made of people.

      Corporations are not faceless office blocks full of hive drones. Corporations are made of people.

      There is no them vs. us. There's just us. If you believe otherwise, then you have missed what democracy is all about.

      You have a problem with the way the government behaves? Well, you elected them, which makes it your fault. You participated in the democratic process, which means that 1/500e6th of the gove

  • by locallyunscene (1000523) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:43AM (#30353604)
    On one hand, I see why a treaty like ACTA might be desirable to establish a common copyright law across all nations. Especially given how much copyright infringement is going on between nations and how hard it is to enforce laws nationally when the economy and the access is global. I can also understand that they may not want to disclose the nitty-gritty of the treaty until they have a lot of the kinks worked out so that parts that will get changed aren't attacked and destroy hope for the treaty ever being passed in any form.

    However, everything I've heard about it, admittedly "leaked", is terrible. They're using the secrecy of the process to hide the severeness of the treaty rather than "working out the kinks". Also, the treaty seems very much focused on protecting America's corporate copyrighted interests rather than respecting the authors and the people who use the author's works. This is a huge opportunity to fix our system, but instead it's being used to make everyone else's more broken.
    • by langelgjm (860756) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:09PM (#30353976) Journal

      On one hand, I see why a treaty like ACTA might be desirable to establish a common copyright law across all nations. Especially given how much copyright infringement is going on between nations and how hard it is to enforce laws nationally when the economy and the access is global.

      We already have plenty of international agreement on copyright law: the Berne convention, WIPO copyright treaties, the TRIPS agreement, etc. All of those have plenty more signatories than ACTA will have, anyway.

      There are also more appropriate venues to be negotiating changes to international copyright law (namely, WIPO). ACTA is not being negotiated there because WIPO requires transparency and broad participation, and ACTA's supporters know that it would not stand a chance at WIPO.

      From what I have heard from people who have seen ACTA, as well as the few leaks about it, the reason it's being kept so secret is because it is exporting a lot of crappy US policy, including fundamentally flawed bits, like the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA.

    • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @02:10AM (#30362240) Homepage

      On one hand, I see why a treaty like ACTA might be desirable to establish a common copyright law across all nations.

      That's not desirable at all.

      Each nation should pursue the copyright policy, and enact the copyright laws, that serve its own people best. This could be no copyright, or minimal copyright, or broad copyright, depending on the circumstances of each particular country. The only international cooperation on copyright matters ought to be that various countries will work to ensure that whatever copyright laws, if any, each has, they are not mutually incompatible such that an author might have to choose between a copyright in Canada, or a copyright in China, being unable to get both due to some sort of technical issue.

      In the US, we should only enact copyright laws when doing so will promote the progress of science more than if we did not enact them, and then only to the extent that we enjoy the greatest public benefit for Americans. This can include granting copyrights on works created by foreigners without concern for reciprocity by their country, since one of our goals is to encourage authors to create and publish works, wherever they're from, and wherever they are working.

      There's no reason for laws to be uniform, and in any event, it has helped get copyright laws in the fucked up state they are in now, and the various international agreements on the matter are significant obstacles to reforming the laws so that they can best serve the public interest.

      Other than some fetish for it, I just don't see why anyone would want uniformity anyway.

      As for the treaty, the reason major copyright legislation is conducted by means of treaty, rather than in national legislatures, is so that there is no public debate. The representatives of the people never have an opportunity to work out the details of the treaty according to the interests of their constituents. Instead, executive branches agree to the treaty and either bind their countries to it directly, bypassing legislative bodies, or present it to the legislature as a fait accompli which cannot be altered and which has too much riding on it to be rejected.

      It is profoundly anti-democratic, and should not be tolerated under any circumstance. Treaties negotiated and agreed too without being worked on publicly, and without the direct involvement of both executive and legislative branches of government should be routinely trashed as a matter of principle. There is no issue so important that the underhanded methods being used here would ever be acceptable.

  • If people would walk away from the table if the text was made public then that is all the more reason to make the text public. Not because I want people to leave the talks but, if people are unwilling to participate in talks if it's open to public scrutiny then there is no more obvious an indication that those talks should not be happening.
  • by joocemann (1273720) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:45AM (#30353616)

    ... and though most of us won't want it, most of us won't really do or say anything until our friends, family, and selves, are spending time in jail or paying huge fines for actions we generally thought were harmless.

    Like the opinion machine on TV is gonna spin it any other way than 'we need it, you just don't know it'.

  • by moz25 (262020) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:47AM (#30353638) Homepage

    Okay, so the text *is* shown to corporate lobbyists, but *not* to the public?

    He's worried about people walking away from the table? No kidding. People *should* walk away from such a table!

  • According to Ambassador Ron Kirk, the head of US Trade Representatives, the secrecy around the ACTA copyright treaty is necessary because without that secrecy, people would be 'throwing a tantrum, chucking their toys out of the pram and generally having a paddy on behalf of their paying taskmasters (the entertainment industry).'

    There, fixed that for him!

    When will the rule of law next be used in the interests of the public as a whole rather than of the corporations? (and no, I don't mean "we should be free t

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cdrguru (88047)

      Unfortunately, we have now pretty much reached the point where everyone pirates. Why not? You can't be caught - unless you are silly and decide to redistribute. Or try making an example out of yourself. Yes, trying to make a civil lawsuit into a political statement using university professors as defense counsel is probably a mistake.

      The end result is that recorded music used to have value and today does not. Certainly not the value it once had. And in a few more years will clearly have zero value - be

  • Indefensible (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mbone (558574) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:53AM (#30353722)

    In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.
    George Orwell

    Secrecy is necessary to plan the indefensible; what's rare is the Ambassador's honesty in admitting it.

  • With laws like this I get a very 'Judge Dredd' type image of the future, with the twist that you aren't told what the laws are, so you don't know which laws you are breaking.

    Actually what bothers me is if the government is indeed working for the people of their nation, then why so much secrecy, unless we are talking national defence? Has the idiocy of copyright extremism really become a factor of national defence? How long until the big media companies are allowed to have their private armies.

  • > FOIA requests for the treaty text have been rebuffed over alleged 'national
    > security' concerns.

    Has a lawsuit been filed over this yet?

  • by StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:01PM (#30353864)

    I just wrote the President, I urge you to do the same. I think they deserve to get slashdotted in that way. Tell them what you think and that there Is interest in the topic and that you have an opinion. Then they have some more information on which to base a decision, especially when you think that this is an issue that effects all the people.

    What I am concerned about is that this looks like an end run by another group that was seeking net non-neutrality. In this case the corporate owners of copyrights, here we know that it is not the singer song writter (like it ever was) that is being effected, or for that matter consulted. It appears as though big corporations, I suspect news and entertainment are a big part of it as well as software companies. That want to get a hand on the internet spigot to have prior-constraint control over information especiall information they feel they own. But then I suspect a handful of countries would love to have access to request internet connection be broken for filtered if they think the message is not what they want. That is being done in China now certainly and the some Middle Eastern countries. That is not a good trend. It would be like only being allowed to listen to Fox news all day, is it really fair and balanced and calling it news might be a stretch. And it is a small step from corporate control to a corporate state (or one that is corporate controlled).

    The key here is the controls that are being hinted at may not be in the countries , or the worlds best interest. We need to know what they are contemplating before we as a people are committed to an action that effects our information infrastructure. We own it, not them. They forget that sometimes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cmattdetzel (1067146)

      And it is a small step from corporate control to a corporate state (or one that is corporate controlled).

      There can be no doubt that Americans are already living in a corporate-controlled state. Sure, elections are held, but it's nigh on impossible to get elected to high office (U.S. House, Senate, President) without enormous political "contributions" from corporate coffers. How many times have we heard the old trope about "protecting American businesses" from our elected officials? Indeed, they've said it so many times that people actually *believe* businesses need protection rather than the other way 'round.

  • If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear!
  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@nOSPAm.ovi.com> on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:44PM (#30354494) Homepage

    Certainly not me.

  • by apenzott (821513) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:12PM (#30354920)

    We will lobby Congress to keep this law in the penalty box for 90 days (one senator on a filibuster) once it is revealed so that the layperson can review it.

If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law. -- Roy Santoro

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