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Politicians Worldwide Asking Questions About ACTA 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the must-have-heard-about-the-death-panels dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Legislators around the world are demanding more information on the secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. US Senator Ron Wyden demanded answers in a letter to the USTR (PDF) this week, ACTA arose in the UK House of Commons yesterday, and French Deputy Nicolas Dupont-Aignan raised ACTA questions in the National Assembly late last year. All of this comes on top of earlier efforts from Swedish Member of the European Parliament Jens Holm, as well as New Zealand MP Clare Curran, who has repeatedly raised concerns about ACTA, and NDP MP Charlie Angus, who posed questions about ACTA in the Canadian House of Commons late last year."
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Politicians Worldwide Asking Questions About ACTA

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  • by NeuralAbyss (12335) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @08:16AM (#30706766) Homepage

    Even though the spotlight's being shone on the dodgy practices behind ACTA, what's the bet that this will still result in just plain old stonewalling until the final agreements have been ratified by treaty, and all is needed is legislation in each member state?

    ACTA comes from utterly fraudulent governance, and not from the public's mandate.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 09, 2010 @08:33AM (#30706834)

      ACTA comes from utterly fraudulent governance, and not from the public's mandate.

      True enough, but you're leaving something out. ACTA comes from the union of fraudulent governments which are owned and operated by multinational corporations. These multinationals have no allegiance to anyone or anything except money and power. This agreement or treaty or whatever they want to call it is just one symptom of a much larger problem.

    • by funkatron (912521) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @08:54AM (#30706932)

      what's the bet that this will still result in just plain old stonewalling until the final agreements have been ratified by treaty, and all is needed is legislation in each member state?

      In a few of the member states, all thatt would be needed to pass said legislation would be the approval of the politicians that had just been stonewalled. Lets hope there's still some working democracies out there.

      I'll correct this post when my cynicism wakes up

    • by Ostracus (1354233) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @09:46AM (#30707196) Journal

      "ACTA comes from utterly fraudulent governance, and not from the public's mandate."

      And which public would that be? The one's that take their civic responsibility seriously, or the public that yells at their politician through the TV? Your complaints about "fraudulent governance" or "public mandate" would actually mean something if people were actually participating and the entire failure was they were simply being overpowered. But it's rather hard to be sympathetic over someone who simply lies there and takes it. Get back with me on "fraudulent governance" and "public mandate" once the global public grows a backbone and actually starts understanding that mandates don't come from silence, but faulty governance does.

      • by osgeek (239988)

        Exactly.

        In a dictatorship, people have a lot more room to blame the greed and violence of a very few.

        In a legitimate democracy, evil government heads and "multinational corporations" aren't to blame, it's the apathetic voters.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by donaggie03 (769758)
          I disagree. ACTA is being pushed through while Obama is POTUS. Let's pretend I voted for Bush. Would he have put a stop to it? Unlikely. Ok, now you pick any one of the major or even minor presidential candidates and tell me which one would have shut this down. Now here's they key: let's also pretend that I am NOT an apathetic voter, I knew all about the issues, and I voted for your guy. Would your guy have been elected? Nope. So my vote did nothing. There's no "I voted for this guy because..." box
          • by osgeek (239988)

            What, like Obama and Bush were intelligent choices for POTUS made by a voting populace that's informed and objective? HA!

            In my universe, those guys wouldn't have made it to city council, much less POTUS.

            In my universe, voters WOULD be able to control legislation much more tightly because they would vote against pork barrel kitchen sink bills where important issues like this are thrown in as part of a compromise. Politicians compromising on the liberties of their constituents would be kicked to the curb so

            • by Rakarra (112805)

              If we want to stay a bit more in this universe, I'd speculate that Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich, and wouldn't have allowed ACTA to continue as it has been.

              True, however they probably would have allowed far more crazier things through, depending on whether you're talking about the left-wing politicians or right-wing politicians on that list.

              • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                by Haymaker (1664103)

                depending on whether you're talking about the left-wing politicians or right-wing politicians on that list.

                Two wings of the same crazy bird.

          • by MacWiz (665750)

            He'd be fighting so hard to get ANYTHING passed through congress that little issues like this one would be given up in some kind of compromise.

            This assumes that it goes through Congress, which ain't necessarily so.

            "The Office of the USTR has chosen to negotiate ACTA as a sole executive agreement. Because of a loophole in democratic accountability on sole executive agreements, the Office of the USTR can sign off on an IP Enforcement agenda without any formal congressional involvement at all."

            http://www.eff.o [eff.org]

      • by theheadlessrabbit (1022587) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @01:51PM (#30708734) Homepage Journal

        And which public would that be? The one's that take their civic responsibility seriously, or the public that yells at their politician through the TV? Your complaints about "fraudulent governance" or "public mandate" would actually mean something if people were actually participating and the entire failure was they were simply being overpowered. But it's rather hard to be sympathetic over someone who simply lies there and takes it. Get back with me on "fraudulent governance" and "public mandate" once the global public grows a backbone and actually starts understanding that mandates don't come from silence, but faulty governance does.

        Canada recently had an open consultations about the direction of copyright in the future for Canada, where the public was invited to town hall meetings and to participate in web forums, and to contact their MPs.
        The response was huge, and the overwhelming majority wanted copyright to be limited, no anti-circumvention laws, no penalties for non-commercial infringement, abolition of crown copyright, a promise that copyright duration would never be extended beyond life+50, and for fair dealing (what we call fair use) to be expanded greatly.

        The Canadian pubic participated, and made their voices heard.

        The whole time, ACTA was being negotiated in Seoul, and another trade agreement equally as ridiculous was being negotiated in Europe (http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/4627/125/)
        The entire public consultation was a sham. The whole thing was just a big distraction so the government can do whatever the hell it wants, directly go against the will of the people, and still say "you had your chance to speak up, you spoke we listened"

        We might as well stay home and yell at the TV.
        Going out and talking to our elected representatives is equally ineffective, so why waste the gas to go out?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by CyberSaint (1376273)
          Precisely

          Soapbox - failed

          next option... well, The Conservatives have proven willing to sell Canadian citizens and their rights. The Liberals, as usual, are internally divided and as such will bury their heads in the sand and hope it blows over. The NDP... well they get THIS issue right, but they have the financial management skills of my 12 year old with a credit card, and lately every time they get the chance to do something run away like frightened children.

          I suppose we could try building a new p
    • by Xest (935314)

      This is why I found the UK parliament minutes interesting.

      David Lammy, the UK's IP minister stated in the minutes that ACTA would have to be implemented under existing legislation rather than be something for which new legislation would need to be passed. If that's the case, ACTA doesn't really have teeth, because the government already pushes existing legislation to it's limits anyway (i.e. using anti-terror legislation to seize the assets of icelandic banks when they began to fail etc.).

      Of course, whether

    • by jack4888 (1707652)

      Even though the spotlight's being shone on the dodgy practices behind ACTA, what's the bet that this will still result in just plain old stonewalling until the final agreements have been ratified by treaty, and all is needed is legislation in each member state?

      ACTA comes from utterly fraudulent governance, and not from the public's mandate.

      Why can't Congress get an answer about this treaty? Doesn't Congress have to ratify this treaty too??? Contact your 2 Senators and raise holy hell. We can't be forced into another NAFTA again. Not a peep from the people to their Senators about NAFTA and everything is gone to the other side of the border. NOTHING is made in U.S.A. any more. We have become a nation of spineless stupid people. We don't deserve anything better than what we are willing to fight for.

  • by langelgjm (860756) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @08:21AM (#30706784) Journal

    Thankfully, it's not just Ron Wyden (OR), either. Yesterday, I was present at a meeting between two of Al Franken's (MN) staffers and a number of DC-area IP experts. A Wyden staffer was also in attendance. This means that in the current session, at least Bernie Sanders (VT), Sherrod Brown (OH), Wyden, and Franken have expressed concern about ACTA. Franken's staffers seemed particularly bothered by the fact that since ACTA is being negotiated as an executive agreement, they neither see negotiating texts (which are being done in secret) nor have any chance to review the agreement before it has the force of law. The U.S. Trade Representative's office keeps telling them that such secrecy is par for the course, and one of the questions they were asking us was whether this is true (it's not).

    I've also heard mention that Ben Cardin (MD) may have some concerns, though apparently he is more 'conservative' on IP issues than the above senators. In any case, I would urge Slashdotters to learn about ACTA, call their senators (especially if you're in one of the above states, and if you're not, tell your senator that these other senators are looking into it, and they should too), and ask them to grill the Obama administration on it's complete and total lack of transparency on this issue. Ask them why the few public-interest groups who have been permitted to see negotiating texts have been forced to sign non-disclosure agreements, why not a single academic or law professor has had an opportunity to see any of the drafts, and why Ron Kirk has said he believes the agreement will fall apart if it becomes public - while at the same time claiming that it does not go beyond the bounds of current U.S. law.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by LaughingCoder (914424)

      ... they neither see negotiating texts (which are being done in secret) nor have any chance to review the agreement before it has the force of law.

      What is this, somoe kind of international health care reform?

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Troll. Congress is involved in health care where they are excluded from ACTA.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Troll. Congress is involved in health care where they are excluded from ACTA.

          Absolutely...and everyone should encourage their representatives to start asking why: https://secure.eff.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=420 [eff.org]

          • I did this a couple weeks ago and one of my senators replied with an email about the health care bill. Pathetic.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by donaggie03 (769758)
          That is somewhat true. Parts of congress are involved in health care, and those parts are only partly involved. How many times in the last few years have we hears about massive bills (1000's of pages) being pushed through with no time for anyone to actually read them? Pick any random congressperson. How much of their house's health care plan do you think that congressperson actually understands?
          • by Yfrwlf (998822)
            They're just pawns under the employment of the corps with the most money. Should be pretty common knowledge by now. The government was taken over long ago and the laws they pass are for the benefit of monopolistic corporations and not the citizens who are supposed to be being represented. Yes, when you crap out 1,000,000,000,000 page bills that no one will ever read except the corps that crafted them, and many fewer would understand any way even if they did read them, of course there's an abuse of power
    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @09:24AM (#30707072)

      Franken's staffers seemed particularly bothered by the fact that since ACTA is being negotiated as an executive agreement, they neither see negotiating texts (which are being done in secret) nor have any chance to review the agreement before it has the force of law.

      I thought that the US Government had a system of Checks and Balances (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checks_and_balances#Checks_and_balances), where each branch of the Government (Legislative, Executive, Judicial) was supposed to keep an eye on the other ones. The above sentence seems to imply that the executive branch can make laws without the approval of the other branches.

      Can someone explain this to me? What exactly is an "executive agreement?" Could this be challenged by the Supreme Court? It seems like Congress has no say at all in the matter.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Late Adopter (1492849)
        No, an executive agreement doesn't make law. It declares how the President will direct his own branch to act, i.e. how he'll wield his pre-existing power. If he needs new authority to act or prohibit others' acts, the treaty will have to go to Congress to be "implemented".
      • by jgirata (1401097)
        An executive agreement is an agreement with another country that specifies how the Executive Department will handle certain laws/situations/etc. The key is that the executive agreement is limited to what is allowed under current laws. It's sort of along the same lines as Bush banning stem cell research with federal funds, then Obama allowing it. The federal law simply said "you have x dollars to spend on medical research." It is up to the President and the Executive Department to determine how that mone
      • by langelgjm (860756) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @10:35AM (#30707498) Journal

        OP here. The replies already posted get it mostly right. An executive agreement is supposed to comply with existing U.S. law, and for that reason does not have to be reviewed by Congress.

        The Obama administration is insisting that ACTA "colors within the lines" of current U.S. law - but of course, there is no way to know that until after it is signed and becomes public. In the meantime, the few public interest folks who have signed NDAs and seen draft texts have said that in their opinion, it goes beyond current U.S. law.

        Of course if the agreement simply abides by current U.S. law, why the need to be so secretive about it?

        There are a number of other issues - like the fact, IIRC, so-called "graduated response" (three-strikes) style laws are permitted under U.S. law, but not implemented by the DMCA, etc. So, it may be that ACTA contains provisions for three-strikes ISP disconnection despite this not being current law in the U.S. There is also the fact that ACTA will almost certainly not include U.S.-style protections for users/consumers.

        Finally, and this is why Congress should be concerned, even if ACTA is totally within the bounds of current U.S. law, once this agreement is settled, if Congress then wants to change the law, the administration will point to this agreement and say "but we can't change our policy because we would be breaking ACTA." This is exactly what has happened with the Berne Convention, TRIPS, and any number of other international agreements. They constrain our future policy options.

        Some people would like to see formalities for copyright registration brought back, but as long as we are a Berne signatory, that is not possible. Likewise, say that Congress eventually wants to ban three-strikes style laws (we can dream, right?). If ACTA explicitly requires that such laws are permissible, Congress would not be able to do so.

        • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Saturday January 09, 2010 @12:52PM (#30708320) Journal

          The fact ACTA is secret and isn't concerned with matters vital to national security is all we need to know that this shouldn't be allowed. I am thinking such secrecy is intended for things like agreements over nuclear weapons and wars. Though those do not have to be and shouldn't be secret either, it's more along the lines that if the other parties to negotiations insist on secrecy, the US can agree to that for the sake of getting them to negotiate at all. So those questions about whether ACTA has 3 strikes provisions, or really is within the bounds of existing law are academic.

          Now, how to stop it? A preemptive law might do it. Congress could pass a law that clarifies acceptable use of executive secrecy. If lives are not at stake, then the executive may not negotiate in secret. But, I can just see them making the ridiculous claim that lives are at stake, or even tossing in a minor missile or bomb agreement the way movie producers throw in a four letter word solely to upgrade a rating from G to PG. So, perhaps require some proof of such an assertion, and non biased and independent judgment of that proof.

          Also, persuade Obama that it's not worth it. Why is he even thinking about this ACTA garbage? And why won't he lift the secrecy? What possible hold could these ACTA backers have over the President to both keep him mum and get him to even look at it and spend time on it? Let the President know that this is not a minor matter and that he can't just blithely allow and do things in unjustified secrecy while everyone else is focused on other matters. If a group of Congressmen told him to forget this heinous secrecy or else face opposition over those other matters, or something like the above bill becoming law, especially with enough support to override a veto, I expect he'd cave. He may even want to be "forced" in this matter, and needs Congress to show a little life and give him the excuses he needs to tell these ACTA backers that he tried but was thwarted. When the Republicans ran Congress, they pretty much gave Bush carte blanche, and the result was poorer governance, as explained here: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/62091/norman-j-ornstein-and-thomas-e-mann/when-congress-checks-out [foreignaffairs.com] . I hope the Democrats are a little smarter, and don't make that same mistake.

          • by Yfrwlf (998822)
            Also, persuade Obama that it's not worth it. Why is he even thinking about this ACTA garbage?

            Um, the government is controlled by corporations, as is Obama. He's nothing more than a PR stunt to calm the masses while corps and the government fuck over citizens. Sorry to burst the whole Obama is for citizen's rights and comes from a "grass-roots movement" bubble. Nothing will truly permanently change until a deep overhaul of the government is carried out, and the Representative/Democracy mix that is the
          • . I am thinking such secrecy is intended for things like agreements over nuclear weapons and wars.

            Maybe, but the fact is that secret agreements over weapons and wars is exactly what got everyone embroiled in WW1....

        • by Culture20 (968837)

          The Obama administration is insisting that ACTA "colors within the lines" of current U.S. law - but of course, there is no way to know that until after it is signed and becomes public. In the meantime, the few public interest folks who have signed NDAs and seen draft texts have said that in their opinion, it goes beyond current U.S. law.

          Of course if the agreement simply abides by current U.S. law, why the need to be so secretive about it?

          There are a number of other issues - like the fact, IIRC, so-called "graduated response" (three-strikes) style laws are permitted under U.S. law, but not implemented by the DMCA, etc. So, it may be that ACTA contains provisions for three-strikes ISP disconnection despite this not being current law in the U.S. There is also the fact that ACTA will almost certainly not include U.S.-style protections for users/consumers.

          To use a slippery slope: Capital punishment is permitted under U.S. law too. There needs to be a limit to what sovereignty the U.S. can give away through the actions of one person.

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          I think that within your accurate explanation of an executive agreement verses a treaty, that you have forgotten that things like TRIPS and Berne are actual treaties that have been ratified by congress.

          The distinction here is that while it's true that if they want to change the copyright process, they will be limited to berne (and WIPO: WTC WPPT, and a few other treaties) unless they can change it or withdraw from it, but under the ACTA, the president could only point to it and say please don't change this

      • by Cidolfas (1358603) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @10:36AM (#30707502)
        The Executive has a discretionary authority to make agreements with other nations on issues of importance. This is supposed to extend only to policy relating to controversial intergovernmental affairs, like "In our country you can't read somebody else's mail, but since in your country it's ok then international post will be treated like *blah*" where *blah* is a compromise that Congress would get roasted for agreeing with. It's also things like Monroe's agreement to limit arms present on the Great Lakes in 1817, or Roosevelt recognizing the Soviet Union in 1933.

        What is known about them in a constitutional respect is that the agreements supersede conflicting state laws (though with ACTA potentially violating state privacy laws that might not be as cut-and-dry as it seems), and that they have been upheld by the Supreme Court. What is not known is what happens when in conflict with a federal law, and it is my general understanding that they can be repealed by Congressional action. They also cannot violate the bill of rights, and presumably any other any other part of the constitution. There was a proposed amendment in 1954 called the Bricker Amendment that would have limited the ability of the executive to make these agreements, but it failed by a single senate vote.

        The major arguments against this type of action is that it does bypass the checks and balances, but so long as it is used in a discretionary manner it is a wonderful tool of foreign policy. If you recall, the League of Nations was rejected by America because Congress couldn't act fast enough and then the isolationists started to make noise. A small check was enacted to try and keep these agreements from being totally secret called the Case Act in 1972, which requires all international agreements be reported from the Secretary of State to Congress, but it has a flaw in language that exempts anything called an accord or arrangement instead of an agreement.

        So yes, in theory the executive could keep ACTA a total secret from everybody if he called it an arrangement, even while it's policies were being enacted. But that's never going to happen because Congress would just denote in the budget that no money can go to the enforcement of ACTA protocols, and it would be dead. More likely, the text is revealed after the agreement is signed and then the fight is for Congress to repeal it - a much more difficult process than fighting to keep it from being ratified - and it would have the force of law until then.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Ostracus (1354233)

      "Franken's staffers seemed particularly bothered by the fact that since ACTA is being negotiated as an executive agreement, they neither see negotiating texts (which are being done in secret) nor have any chance to review the agreement before it has the force of law."

      Like the Kyoto Agreements?

    • by Smallpond (221300) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:44PM (#30709140) Homepage Journal

      How can you say that ACTA is secret? I encourage everyone to review the agenda of the recently completed 6th round of talks which is available on the USTR site. [ustr.gov] It's nearly 80 words long for heaven's sake, and only two thirds of it is about the dates, the rooms and what meals are being served. How much more open can we get?

      And please note that on Friday morning we discussed your desire for transparency. We gave it the consideration that we believe it deserved; you can see the results for yourselves.

      Sincerely,
      Your US Trade Representative (name withheld)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's almost as if representatives of people around the world are demanding information about legislation before it is passed / agreed upon by their respective countries -- i.e. during negotiations. It's like some people care about legislation that will affect them, and our representatives in government are doing their jobs by being answerable to the people's wishes for more information, regardless of the power and money of lobbyists trying to influence the outcome for commercial reasons.

    I know it's crazine

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is a big problem for us. How else will our government properly protect us from music pirates and wikileaks?

    • by Ostracus (1354233)

      "...regardless of the power and money of lobbyists trying to influence the outcome for commercial reasons."

      As opposed to any of the other lobbyists out there? Would we feel ok with the process if we were seniors and it was the AARP, gun lovers and the NRA? How about woman's rights and NOW?

      "I know it's craziness to think this way, but bear with me for a moment: we might be seeing genuine democracy in action!"

      Except not everyone's a democracy.

  • by javacowboy (222023) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @08:56AM (#30706944)

    From what I've seen, multilateral treaties are difficult to pass. That's not to say that they're impossible to pass, but the fact that you have N number of countries with N number of political calculations to make (even if they're not democracies) makes it difficult to come to a solid agreement. That's why the FTAA seems to have failed. There was just too much disagreement.

    Exceptions are whatever copyright treaty got passed, WTO, etc)

    (BTW, slightly off topic, I saw a Blu-Ray movie with the FBI copyright warning in French, which I had never seen before on any DVD. That was a little creepy and funny at the same time.)

    The U.S. has been much more successful by pushing its agenda through bilateral (U.S.-Canada free trade agreement) or trilateral agreements (NAFTA).

    My guess is that instead of the ACTA passing, there will instead be a series of bilateral and trilateral agreements with various countries, such as how the U.S. pushed Singapore to adopt DMCA-like laws in a "free trade agreement".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      "(BTW, slightly off topic, I saw a Blu-Ray movie with the FBI copyright warning in French, which I had never seen before on any DVD. That was a little creepy and funny at the same time.)"

      The publisher probably just didn't want to produce different runs of discs for the US and Canada. All movies in Canada have the warning in both french and english. It's frequently an INTERPOL warning, but it's particularly entertaining when it's actually an FBI warning.

    • by langelgjm (860756) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @10:43AM (#30707538) Journal

      Yes, multilateral treaties are hard to negotiate. That's exactly why the U.S. et al. are not pursuing ACTA's provisions in the proper forum - WIPO. They know there is too much opposition from developing countries at WIPO, and such proposals would go nowhere.

      Their solution has been what is referred to as "forum shifting" - all the like-minded governments (US, EU, Japan, plus some other who want to play ball - Mexico, South Korea) are taking their marbles and finding somewhere else to play. For the most part, these states agree on basic IP policy. Sure, there is disagreement on specific details - sui generis database rights in the EU, for example. But on the whole, the parties negotiating ACTA are much less diverse when it comes to IP policy than we might think.

      By they way, the U.S. has also been pushing its IP policy through practically every bilateral free-trade agreement at the same time. The EU is doing the same thing. Both have decide that IP is important enough to warrant its own agreement. Initially ACTA will be between these like-minded countries, but after it is passed, we can expect it to become a necessity for future bilateral agreements. New FTA between US and country X? Sure, but on the condition that you join ACTA, which means reforming your IP laws to TRIPS-plus, "first-world" standards. Want to become a member of the OECD? Sure, but you also need to join ACTA to show us you're ready.

    • by Yfrwlf (998822)

      Once you've had Mac [apple.com], you can't go back!

      I've had both a BigMac and used OS X, and you're right, I didn't go back to where I had those experiences.
  • by bistromath007 (1253428) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @09:07AM (#30706988)
    It is well known that the US is at the spearhead of about half this garbage. This the same thing that member states of the EU are doing: introduce a policy you want in the EU, then complain about how terrible it is locally so that the public doesn't realize it was your idea.

    World fascism is about three years away, and there's nothing we can do but watch. Have fun.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      World fascism is about three years away, and there's nothing we can do but watch. Have fun.

      It's o.k., by then we'll have both cold fusion and the singularity; most of the world's problems will be instantly solved.

    • by Shakrai (717556) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:42PM (#30709120) Journal

      World fascism is about three years away, and there's nothing we can do but watch

      Speak for yourself. Here in the US we still have our firearms ;)

      • If American gun owners were going to do anything more than just talk, they'd have done it by now.

        • by Duradin (1261418)

          Most American gun owners are smart enough to not go around and pop politicians willy-nilly since the ammo box is the last of the four boxes to use.

          • So far, the first three boxes don't seem to be doing jack. Maybe a few RKBA types will get a few rounds off if the feds actually do show up to collect their guns, but for the most part American liberty is eroding not with a bang, but with a whimper.

            But I guess I can't blame them -- it's not like I'm even going to be out there sniping politicians and bureaucrats. (I'm more of an emigration kind of guy, so long and good luck with that.) It just seems silly to me that they go on about guns being a "bulwark

            • So true, man. This is the whole reason I'm always so pessimistic whenever I talk about this junk. The people who have guns are content to sit on them until there are actually jackbooted thugs at their door, at which point it will be too late to link up with anyone else ready to provide resistance. Fascism is upon us because we have become lazy and stupid.

              Of course, it won't be any better for you. Where are you going to emigrate to that isn't like this after ACTA?
            • ... it's not like I'm even going to be out there sniping politicians and bureaucrats. (I'm more of an emigration kind of guy, so long and good luck with that.)

              Let's go and sail forth to a BRAVE NEW WORLD!

      • by Rakarra (112805)

        Lol, for all the good that would actually do you.

        Your pistols and rifles won't protect you one bit from our hostile government. It might make invasion from an outside occupier very difficult though.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        Speak for yourself. Here in the US we still have our firearms ;)

        Because that did a lot of good with preventing the warrantless wiretapping laws or removing Carte Blanc from the TSA or preventing the establishment of "rights free" zones.

        Waco cult members had a lot of guns, look where they are now. If it comes down to fighting the government, if you don't have the Army on your side you'll lose no matter how many guns you have.

      • Speak for yourself. Here in the US we still have our firearms ;)

        You can wake us up when you have actually successfully used them for the purpose you claim they're intended to be used. So far all we see is Americans boasting of having guns so that they can revolt, but no actual revolt taking place no matter how deep they're ass-raped.

      • by Yfrwlf (998822)
        Agreed with the other posters, that's not going to be helping much. What needs to happen is public protest. Nothing can stop public protest if it's the entire country vs. you no matter how many guns each side has. While clinging to "guns" as being some kind of nice comforting threshold, the military/govt has much bigger guns and will always be superior. Again, it's mass protest and Democracy that need to overhaul the government, not some guns. Not to mention the former is the preferred method.
  • has no weight on the political chessboard and 90% of French citizens have never heard of him: he is a helpless maverick.
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @12:29PM (#30708172)

    I've posted most of this before on slashdot; This is just a cleanup of previous posts -- it has details of why the ACTA is secret.

    A Private War

    I used to read stuff like this and get upset. But then I realized that my entire generation knows it's baloney. They can't explain it intellectually. They have no real understanding of the subtleties of the law, or arguments about artists' rights or any of that. All they really understand is there is are large corporations charging private citizens tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, for downloading a few songs here and there. And it's intuitively obvious that it can't possibly be worth that.

    An entire generation has disregarded copyright law. It doesn't matter whether copyright is useful or not anymore. They could release attack dogs and black helicopters and it wouldn't really change people's attitudes. It won't matter how many websites they shut down or how many lives they ruin, they've already lost the culture war because they pushed too hard and alienated people wholesale. The only thing these corporations can do now is shift the costs to the government and other corporations under color of law in a desperate bid for relevance. And that's exactly what they're doing.

    What does this mean for the average person? It means that we google and float around to an ever-changing landscape of sites. We communicate by word of mouth via e-mail, instant messaging, and social networking sites where the latest fix of free movies, music, and games are. If you don't make enough money to participate in the artificial marketplace of entertainment goods -- you don't exclude yourself from it, you go to the grey market instead. All the technological, legal, and philosophical barriers in the world amount to nothing. There is a small core of people that understand the implications of what these interests are doing and continually search for ways to liberate their goods and services for "sale" on the grey market. It is (economically and politically) identical to the Prohibition except that instead of smuggling liquor we are smuggling digital files.

    Billions have been spent combating a singularily simple idea that was spawned thirty years ago by a bunch of socially-inept disaffected teenagers working out of their garages: Information wants to be free. Except information has no wants -- it's the people who want to be free. And while we can change attitudes about smoking with aggressive media campaigns, or convince them to cast their votes for a certain candidate, selling people on goods and services they don't really need, what we cannot change is the foundations upon which a generation has built a new society out of.

    Culture Connection

    Just as we have physical connections to each other, we now have digital connections to one another. These connections actively resist attempts at control because it impedes the development and nature of the relationships we have with one another. People naturally seek the methods which give them the greatest freedom to express themselves to each other. That is a force of nature (ours, specifically) that has evolved out of our interconnectedness. Copyright law has been twisted to serve as a bulwark against the logical result of increasing social interconnectedness between people and computers: Access an ever-increasing amount of humanity's history, knowledge, and culture. Ultimately, this is a battle they cannot win -- they can only delay, building dams and locks to stem the tide, but they will fail. It's how, when, and where it fails that will decide the fate of economies worldwide.

    Every law advantages one group while disadvantaging another. And every engine, be it physical or social, functions because an energy imbalance exists and by moving energy from one potential to another, we can skim some off to do useful work. Laws work the same way -- by creating artificial differences between groups of people, society produces goods and services. This is why we will always have new Prohibitions. It's not a comfor

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I love the generation argument. So simple, yet so true. With their braindead enforcement attempts, these content sharks have sown the seeds of their own destruction.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Yes, just like how the children of the 60s grew up with drugs and then went on to get rid of the stigma and laws against relatively harmless drugs. Oh, wait...
        • by DrSkwid (118965)

          I think it's more it requires the children of those people. They are the ones that grew up where casual drug use was normal and in the open. They had Reefer Madness, we had Cheech & Chong and now it's Harold & Kumar - from Anti-Culture to Counter-Culture to Culture.

          There became a tipping point when the BBC thought it wise to make a sit-com [bbc.co.uk] "about a small-time dope dealer and his strange collection of acquaintances".

    • the addict bubble. (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      An interesting bit of prose...except for one problem. People are buying and consuming, even if illegal, what the big media generates. We can talk all we want about revolutions and seed sowing, but the reality is that the public at large is still addicted to mass media content. It's kind of hard, historically or otherwise to call that a failure. Regardless of what laws they get passed, they will only be considered failures when the public at large stops consuming in whatever form their content takes.

      • by triceice (1046486)

        They are because in reality most people do the right thing even if they think that it is wrong. Companies could do worse having a good psych phd on staff to help them understand what they need to do.

  • by HalAtWork (926717) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @01:01PM (#30708398)
    There was a recent story on the problems with software auditing [slashdot.org] which shows how this could lead to consumers being unfairly squeezed due to unclear licensing terms. ACTA could be abused by entities such as RIAA/MPAA (Sony/Warner/Universal/EMI/Disney/whoever/etc) to unfairly sue even more people in a much broader area. It's harmonizing their mercenary efforts while placing the onus on legitimate law enforcement, therefore corrupting that.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    At some point, we have democracy by proxy. It seems that day has come. Secret back room deals are not democratic. We won't put up with them. Ratification and 'done deals' can and will be undone, and pushy companies will find they have nothing to sell. China isn't all that interested in kowtowing to American IP interests. There was a time when China would put up with American demands. There is $700 Billion (or is it trillion) worth of Chinese pressure that the Americans have to blink at. ACTA? Not

  • I'm finding this all in the vein of the US "forcing" everyone to do everything the way they do it, and that's that. Our way or the highway. A means by which to control content, media, privacy and the likes, and a means by which to invade someone's privacy based on copyright and patent laws. The final chokehold on creative collective thinking.
  • by Husgaard (858362) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @06:39PM (#30710582)

    The summary says: "All of this comes on top of earlier efforts from Swedish Member of the European Parliament Jens Holm, [...]"

    Well, Jens Holm has not been a member of the European Parliament for half a year, and his question is almost a year old.

    It would be a lot more relevant to link to the ACTA question [europa.eu] from November of Swedish Member of the European Parliament for the Pirate Party, Christian Engström.

  • Love the thoughtfulness of your comment!

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