Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
United States Government The Internet News

US Ignores Unwelcome WTO IP Rulings 448

Eye Log writes "The United States is a big fan of leaning on other countries to tighten IP and copyright protection, but has a tendency to ignore its own obligations when it doesn't get its way. 'Two ongoing cases illustrate the point. First, the European Union is pushing for the US to change a pair of rules that it calls "long-standing trade irritants." Despite World Trade Organization rulings against it, the US has not yet corrected either case for a period of several years... Apparently, it's easy to get hot and bothered when it's industries from your country that claim to be badly affected by rules elsewhere. When it comes to the claims of other countries, though, even claims that have been validated by the WTO, it's much easier to see the complexity of the situation, to spend years arguing those complexities before judges, and to do nothing even when compelled by rulings.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Ignores Unwelcome WTO IP Rulings

Comments Filter:
  • by coutch ( 157269 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:54PM (#22876556)
    Given the way this administration has been handling Foreign Policy, this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone ...
  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:56PM (#22876576) Journal
    movie at 11:00....
  • by locokamil ( 850008 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:56PM (#22876580) Homepage
    News at eleven.
  • by MoonlightSeraphim ( 1253752 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:02PM (#22876644)
    Honestly, I was about to make the same comment. Which part of this article is a news? If it's about the facts and events where US still didn't comply with WTO rulings then it was a good read. However, if the article was supposed to articulate the fact that US doesn't comply unless it is in their favor ... well, it is really an outdated news. Even though, I'm sure I will be modded either Troll or Flaimbait but it is a sad truth. Whenever it comes to harassing other countries in favor of US or, just to be more precise, US companies & corporations, then it is a first priority for them. While if it is otherwise situation nothing will change since US government considers themselves to be kings of the world and that their laws and points of view should prevail over everything and everyone else.
  • Who cares really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by knivesx11 ( 1085179 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:03PM (#22876650)
    The big problem with the WTO is that it exists to try to find equities in other peoples laws. In my country its legal to do something that might be illegal in yours. The problem with that is that its great when people are talking about physical properties, however its much more difficult when dealing with the same disputes on intellectual property. If I play a radio in my work than its the station that sells advertisements that pays for the songs. As long as I don't advertise the fact like some kind of main street concert hall than I'm not sure why it matters.
  • by laughingcoyote ( 762272 ) <barghesthowl&excite,com> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:12PM (#22876708) Journal

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

  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:17PM (#22876742)
    thank god.

    If I can gain an advantage by getting others to follow phony rules, good for me, but I'm not bound by them.

    Note that this is significantly different than treaties, which are between specific countries, and spell out specific remedies, the ultimate being the offended party withdrawing from the treaty (or war).
  • by Dr Caleb ( 121505 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:22PM (#22876784) Homepage Journal
    Nice troll. Even got modded up.

    Germany is one of the greenest countries in Europe, even giving citizens a fixed rate on solar energy they produce. France produces most of it's electricity through Nuclear power.

    Bad Moderators. Go to your room. No soup for you.
  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:26PM (#22876824)
    IP should stand for "imaginary" rather than "intellectual" property. It means absolutely nothing if nobody agrees to enforce it, and as such does not provide a secure or stable source of GDP.

    Any economist foolish enough to believe in "IP" as a long term foundation for an economy is not only incompetent, but dangerous to whomever he councils.

    You either take action against outsourcing or you face the slides happening in the US economy now.

    jobs get outsourced
    government doesnt take action
    rents go up, job opportunities go down, inflation occurs as your constant trade imbalance floods the rest of the planet with fiat money.

    economies are based on production of real goods and services, not residual income dependent only on the willing
      compliance of neighbors.
  • by krlynch ( 158571 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:31PM (#22876866) Homepage
    Actually, this has next to nothing to do with this or any Administration unilaterally ignoring WTO rulings. The issues raised in the article have to do with laws passed by the Congress of the United States. Without the Congress of the United States repealing those laws, the current (or indeed, any future) Administration has no power to do anything about these WTO rulings.
  • by schon ( 31600 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:32PM (#22876872)

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

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

    Either the US government is for strict interpretation and enforcement or it's not. Pick one.
  • by treesloth ( 1095251 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:32PM (#22876880)
    Good. They should use it. Just like every other nation uses their powers in their own self-interest. Why should any nation bow to the UN against their own interest? They shouldn't. The UN exists to server, not to rule. It has precisely no authority.
  • by Mspangler ( 770054 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:35PM (#22876902)
    Exactly. And it's not just the US blowing off the WTO when it suits them. It's "the way the game is played." France has a 15% tariff in all but name that they'll administratively fix real soon now ;-) (It's a VAT dodge of some sort.)

    Canada dumps lumber in the US at subsidized prices, but the subsidy is the less than fair market price for the wood on their equivalent of national forests. Who determines what they call fair market price? The Canadian government. And correctly so. Whether Canada wants it's money from stump royalties or income taxes on employed workers is their call.

    It's about time the US had as much enlightened self-interest as the French. All that consistently "taking one for free trade" has gotten for us is bankruptcy. Wages haven't moved since 1973. First we put the women to work. Since then the standard of living has been maintained by home equity loans on the ever rising value of a house. Now that that has stopped, pain will ensue. Whether the pain will be inflation (raise prices on everything else so that housing isn't over priced anymore) or deflation (as book-keeping entries develop the same marginal value as other "IP") is the question of the year.

    Stay tuned.
  • by Petrushka ( 815171 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:38PM (#22876942)

    If I can gain an advantage by getting others to follow phony rules, good for me, but I'm not bound by them.

    Note that this is significantly different than treaties,

    You seem to be under the impression that the WTO is an organisation that just appeared out of thin air -- rather than, say, as a result of lots of countries signing up to binding agreements -- also known as "treaties" (such as GATT and the Marrakesh Agreement).

    If you think it's a good thing for your country to abdicate the responsibilities it has itself assumed under the provisions of treaties it willingly signed, then you are simply wanting your country to be a criminal, or rogue state.

    By the way, remind me never to sign any contract with you ...

  • by nrlightfoot ( 607666 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:51PM (#22877050) Homepage
    I am very glad that businesses here don't need to pay $30,000 a year to play the radio where customers can hear it. It's nice when our government protects us from abusive regulations, even if it doesn't happen very often.
  • by Brian Gordon ( 987471 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:57PM (#22877098)
    But what do you want us to do? It's our policy to regularly destroy hard drives after they've been subpoenaed by a federal court.
  • by LaskoVortex ( 1153471 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:58PM (#22877108)

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

    • The so-called "Irish Music" dispute concerns the portion of US copyright law that lets restaurants and shops play broadcast music without compensating the copyright holders.
      => I would be willing to wager that most everyone commenting on this thread would consider that fair use.
    • The Havana Club issues stems from the long-standing US effort to impose sanctions on Cuba.
      => Weren't the trade sanctions against Cuba put there and don't they remain there in part because of Cuban human rights abuses? The governments calling USA to task on this have companies which have "invested in Cuban business". The trademarks are not protected in the US to limit Cuban companies profiting from these trademarks in the US. If other countries want to sell their rum in the US under a protected trademark, they seem free to use a different trademark. Whether US trade sanctions against Cuba are moral or justified is a different issue from IP.
    • The second case concerns Antigua and Barbuda, a small Caribbean country home to all sorts of online vices, including gambling and DRM circumvention. Antigua took the US to the WTO years ago over charges that the US was unfairly criminalizing access to Antiguan gambling websites...
      => Legal gambling outfits in the US follow strict gambling laws that regulate, among other things, machine calibration, payout ratios, etc. Online gambling from other countries is outlawed in the USA because the mechanisms to ensure fairness can not be physically confirmed by government representatives.
  • by MrSteveSD ( 801820 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:58PM (#22877114)
    Imagine if the same philosophy was adopted by everyone. Suddenly I could decide that the law doesn't apply to me and opt out. I could rob banks at will and have a lot of fun. The Banks would want me stopped, but because I've opted out, they would not be able to use the law to stop me. Instead they would have to opt out of the law as well and take matters into their own hands, probably violently.

    That's the kind of situation that currently exists internationally and it's not a good thing.
  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:00PM (#22877122)
    It happens all the time, but only when the "us" referred to make over 1 million dollars gross income per year and provide "campaign contributions" to the relevant lawmakers.

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

  • Paying for radio? (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

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

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

  • by rally2xs ( 1093023 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:03PM (#22877152)
    something to complain about, and act like we want US companies to be successful. 1) Completely eliminate the income tax, and, just to be clear, that means the corporate income tax, too. 2) Institute a National sales tax to run the country with. In addition to the cessation of wasting all that money to collect the income tax, all American goods reduce in price dramatically from not having to pay income tax. Imported goods stay the same price, since they weren't paying American income tax in all those Chinese and Korean factories anyway. Then American goods get taxed back up to about what they were, while foreign goods increase maybe 23 - 28% or so. Wonder if the WTO would have a hemmorhage, and what they could do about it.
  • by Ambidisastrous ( 964023 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:04PM (#22877164)

    The "US government" isn't a person, it's composed of people who are just trying to do what's best for their campaign contributers.
    (Just wanted to make sure it didn't slip past anyone's irony detector.)

    It's also interesting that given the choice of making relatively small changes to the law versus coughing up fines, the U.S. is consistently choosing to pay fines. As I understand it, the fines don't actually come directly out of lawmakers' bank accounts, but also affect a number of citizens who weren't even involved in the violation. Shocking!
  • by MrSteveSD ( 801820 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:07PM (#22877180)
    The US has used the Veto the most times, at least since the 80s. Of course all 5 permanent dictators of the UN Security Council have the veto power. Even the threat of Veto (Hidden Veto) is enough to stop resolutions from even being proposed. That's what happened with Rwanda. France and the US threatened to veto anything that had the word "Genocide" in it, because it would have required immediate action. Yet it is not France and the US that people blame for Rwanda. Instead people look at Rwanda and say the UN is to blame (the US and France must be quite relieved at that).

    The will of the world is expressed through General Assembly Resolutions, but perversely they are non binding, whereas the UN Security Council dictatorship resolutions are binding. Then again, it wouldn't really matter if the General Assembly resolutions were binding, because powerful countries like the US, Russia, China etc would just ignore them. Since the major powers clearly have no interest in obeying the rules, it comes down to who is militarily powerful, and that is a very poor lesson to teach the rest of the world. The result of all this is that more and more countries will try to develop nuclear weapons in an attempt to join this "power club".
  • by navtal ( 943711 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:08PM (#22877182)
    I apologize but i am having trouble seeing where corporation and the US Government begin and end. Dare I use the word fascist? I fear for our future.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:17PM (#22877256)
    And that is a bad thing how? There is NO SUCH THING as 'International Law', and all countries routinely ignore the bits of said 'law' that don't suit them. Look up the word sovereignty sometime then come back for a cogent discussion.
  • by Admiral Ag ( 829695 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:24PM (#22877312)
    Look, you can't have trade without rules. Americans are able to trade with each other because the US has laws enforcing contracts and agreements. It is no different between states: some agreement about the rules is required to protect people who want to trade across borders. If the US wants to ignore the agreements it has made, then other countries will ignore their agreements and everyone will be worse off. International trade is for the most part beneficial to all parties. Actions like this are the result of special interests and are damaging not only to other countries but to Americans who aren't part of that interest group.

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

    Simple self interest ought to be enough to motivate the US to abide by the agreements it has made.
  • by MoonlightSeraphim ( 1253752 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:28PM (#22877336)
    Good read. And I do agree with you. If you like the law of your country than live there. Also, we are not saying that US is obligated to comply with what WTO rules and change their laws to suit others. HOWEVER, if your government makes such stand then it should also gtfo with their demands towards other countries to comply in favor of US laws and preferences.
  • by wasted ( 94866 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:36PM (#22877386)

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

    True, but if you look at it that way, the justification for flaming the U.S. and/or Bush is diminished, and the ignorant masses won't be able to gain as much self esteem by insulting the U.S. or Bush.
  • China crisis (Score:5, Insightful)

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

    Yes. That explains those extensive sanctions against China too.

    Oh, hang on ...
  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:44PM (#22877468) Journal
    "Note that this [WTO] is significantly different than treaties"

    Saying a treaty is different to a treaty is insightfull? - Sounds more like a government press release to me.
  • by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:47PM (#22877492) Homepage Journal

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

    However, let's not lose sight of the point here, which is the double standard. We have some pretty absurd requests of other countries too, and if we expect them to go along with our absurd requests, we're going to have to go along with theirs.
  • by metoc ( 224422 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:55PM (#22877598)
    Both Canada and Mexico have similar problems when it comes to the USA not complying with WTO rulings. These will be on the table if NAFTA is renegotiated.
  • by mdarksbane ( 587589 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:56PM (#22877604)
    Is there any government for whom this isn't true? Most theories of nations and international politics indicate that national leaders move largely according to what they can get away with. Anyone expecting different is projecting quite a bit of idealism onto a process that really isn't.
  • by vic-traill ( 1038742 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:02PM (#22877666)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I know that it's popular with the hate America first groups to make a big deal out of all this, but it's apples and oranges. The US is the leading exporter of IP, of course we're going to be concerned with piracy. But why is it that we can't at least acknowledge that these cases are hardly the same as the rampant piracy in some parts of the world and are hardly appropriate issues for the WTO to arbitrate in the first place.
  • by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:24PM (#22877852) Homepage Journal

    1) Completely eliminate the income tax, and, just to be clear, that means the corporate income tax, too. 2) Institute a National sales tax to run the country with.
    We have enough regressive taxes already, thank you. We don't need to make the system any more regressive, but that's exactly what replacing income tax with sales tax would do: people with lower incomes spend more of their income on taxable goods, while people with higher incomes spend proportionally less (saving or investing the rest).

    Furthermore, cheating on sales tax is a lot easier than cheating on income tax. Imagine buying a $10,000 car - if you have to pay 30% sales tax, that's $13,000 total. Now suppose you offer to pay $11,500 cash if the dealer doesn't report the sale: you both gain $1500 and no one will notice, unless you want to keep the IRS around and let them audit every business's inventory.

    In addition to the cessation of wasting all that money to collect the income tax, all American goods reduce in price dramatically from not having to pay income tax.
    Er... no they don't. Think about that a little harder. The workers who make those goods still need to buy stuff, but now everything they buy costs more because of higher sales taxes. Labor costs won't drop, because all the money that's been going to income tax now has to go directly to employees who'll use it to pay sales tax.
  • by justthisdude ( 779510 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:34PM (#22877928)
    The internal US debate:

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

    This is true. The constitution does, however gives congress the right to sign treaties with foreign governments. I looked it up: from section 2 on the powers of the president:

    He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;
    My understanding is that the congress passed and the president signed all previous rounds of the WTO agreements.

    The Revolutionary War took place due to a foreign "government" trying to rule US citizens. The breaking point was taxation without representation, but mostly it was all laws without representation.
    We have representation in the WTO, both in setting it up and each round of talks. We also had full representation during the judgments that went against us.

    The laws of Germany or some other sovereign country do not have anything to do with this case. Prior presidents and Congresses lawfully entered our nation into agreements with other nations for (perceived) mutual benefit. If no longer feel the treaties are of benefit, I believe we can leave the organization, but overall it does a great deal of good, especially for the shareholders of large US companies that sell abroad. If they do not want their moral power diluted, perhaps THEY should encourage their congressmen to enforce the ruling...

    As for you foreigners, while you are technically correct that the US is just as out of line as other countries, I detect a mean-spiritedness in your comments. Are you feeling resentful because you are being "pushed around" by the US on this issue? Get over it. This is an argument over money, and probably not even yours. This is the money of the rich people in the US v.s. the rich in your country. If you aren't rich, you have no dog in this race. If you are rich, shut up and enjoy it.

    Save your mean-spirited comments for where they belong: discussions of US foreign policy and our tendency to invade places.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:46PM (#22878020)
    Effect of treaties is NOT clear in the Constitution. In fact, its one of the most long-standing and opaque issues left entirely unresolved (even more so than the 2nd Amendment, or War Powers). Here's a question: If the Senate ratifies a treaty which prohibits free speech, is it Constitutional? A very simplistic interpretation would say so. But of course, that would be absurd. It would be absurd to allow a single House of Congress to do something that otherwise would be impossible without amending the Constitution.

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

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

    But rather than complain about the "rule of law", and the headaches it causes, wouldn't it be better to praise it? It's a double-edged sword. The European Commission often impedes in the Constitutional spheres of the European Council and Parliament. That's tolerated in Europe far more than it would be here. It might allow for quicker resolution of issues like this sometimes, but its not clear to me that its preferable overall.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27, 2008 @12:14AM (#22878196)
    Yack, yack, the US is a big bad monster. Give it up, we're a country of people just like all the others. There's not a country out there that doesn't have something they've wronged another with. And here we go down the Iraq road again. If you don't like it get off your ass and help out. I'm sure the US would be happy for the help.
  • by freedom_india ( 780002 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @12:54AM (#22878452) Homepage Journal

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

    mechanisms to ensure fairness
    Since when was gambling fair? Probably you meant that US-owned corporates don't have access to the money Antigua companies earn...
    Once a US corporate buys out a few Antiguan gambling corporates, you can expect REAL change, REAL quick.

    Let's face it. The world is not fair. Each country is entitled to screw the other if it benefits them. US has every right to do so, and so do Iran, EU and other countries.

  • by clampolo ( 1159617 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @01:27AM (#22878620)

    That Constitution says nothing about the WTO getting to change US laws they don't like

    Exactly! The Constitution also spells out that the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. Congress and the president don't have the legal right to give jurisdiction to a foreign court.

    And as an aside, what a dumb law that Irish Music thing is. That's nice, you can't play the radio at work without forking money over to somebody.

  • Re:Autonomy (Score:5, Insightful)

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

    The UN and WTO are a bit too socialistic for my tastes, but that's just me.
    You have to be really on the right end of the fascist scale to claim that the WTO is socialist, given that it was created by the USA to serve the interests of capitalism.
  • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @02:34AM (#22878912)
    Morality doesn't enter into it, but legality does. Corps are obliged to boil babies *wherever legal* if it is the best use of funds. Directors have a fiduciary duty to the stockholders, which as Wikipedia explains is a strong obligation.

    Perhaps you could explain just which part of that article you're talking about. Because I can't see it.

    A fiduciary is expected to be extremely loyal to the person to whom they owe the duty (the "principal"): they must not put their personal interests before the duty, and must not profit from their position as a fiduciary, unless the principal consents.
    Which part of that requires, or even condones, being an amoral asshole? So many MBA types think they have a licence to kill by just saying "Fiduciary duty compels me to ...". They're lying. You have no more right or obligation, moral or legal, to be an asshole as a fiduciary than you do as a "person". The Nuremberg defence didn't work then, and doesn't work now.
  • by freedom_india ( 780002 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @03:23AM (#22879092) Homepage Journal
    What constitution?
    I thought Bush and Cheney already classified constitution as toilet paper in their speeches about 2 years ago.
  • by Anspen ( 673098 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @04:08AM (#22879252)

    The US is most certainly the largest economy in the world, still. Unless you count the whole of the EU as one economic unit, which I'll buy when the EU has one seat at the UN, one vote in the security council, etc...

    What does having one seat at the UN etc. got to do with economic policy? The EU negotiates as one block with the outside world where economic treaties etc. are concerned. *That* is what makes it count as a single economic unit.

  • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @04:18AM (#22879288)
    If you don't like the WTO rules or think they infringe on your sovereignty don't join the WTO. If you do join then you should do your part.
  • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @05:20AM (#22879518)
    You'd destroy your own economy in the process since that importing isn't just stuff you don't need. Stopping imports would create a massive shortage of resources and equipment (never mind the consumer goods that get imported) and leave you with the little manufacturing capacity left inside the US to supply the whole country. The capacity was scaled back because of the imports, it can't be scaled back up on short notice. Costs for resources would go up massively, companies that have little or no local production will not be able to produce anything and you'd get a total economy crash as a result.
  • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @05:22AM (#22879524) Journal
    All of this because corporate money controls US politics. It is called corruption in some places, lobbying in US. If you don't like it, spread the word about Lawrence Lessig's Change Congress [] movements and ask your representative his/her position on this issue.
  • by YeeHaW_Jelte ( 451855 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:30AM (#22879776) Homepage
    "Except that this isn't a "corp", it's the fscking US Government."

    I'd say the difference between these two concepts is getting smaller every year, with the campaining system as it is and the two corporation backed political families Bush and Clinton.
  • by varcher75 ( 800974 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:15AM (#22879940)
    I have a difficulty accepting your argument.

    the on line gambling represent the sovereignty of the nation and isn't subject to an outside country demanding laws.
    Actually, it is. Your country voluntary entered into an international treaty organisation (the WTO), which indicates that your country accepted the obligations set forth in the treaty.

    Provisions of that treaty is non-discrimination: if specifics goods and services are legal in your country, and a private US company or organisation can legally provide these goods and services in the US, then a non-US company or organisation is allowed, by the terms of the treaty the US signed, to import those goods and services to the US market.

    And that's the whole Antigua gambling mess. On-line gambling is allowed in the US (or parts of). Therefore, on-line gambling can be provided by Antigua companies. Legislation to the contrary is incompatible with the WTO treaty, and offer your government only two choice: alter your legislation to conform to your treaty obligations, or forgeoing the treaty. Your government as indicated that it wants to keep its incompatible legislation, but that carries a penalty: you cannot pick and choose which parts of a treaty apply. You do not comply with the treaty obligations, you cannot ask for the treaty's protection.

    It is not piracy - what Antigua is doing is perfectly legal in the framework that your country accepted. Embargoing Antigua or blockading Antigua would be an entirely illegal action, and an act of war. Of course, being Antigua, and you being the US, you can declare war on Antigua anytime you want. Might makes right, and given the current might, the US can put all the pressure it wants, about anywhere. Any country can do whatever it wants - if they want to pay the price that comes with it. Escalating its violations of its treaties which were mostly written by the US anyway is always an option. I'm not so sure that the US' best interests lie in breaking out of the WTO.
  • by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @08:12AM (#22880216)
    So Antigua is going to ignore the copyright on USA goods if the USA doesn't comply with the WTO rulings by the end of March []. They say they have the WTO's support in this. They hope that the MPAA (etc) will be angry enough about this to put pressure on the US government to fix the problem.
  • by zoney_ie ( 740061 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @08:38AM (#22880406)
    Not as funny a post, but here goes. In many cases the rules are pretty ordinary, but they are EU *directives*; that is, they specify the minimum results needed by law but not how to implement it (that's up to individual states). It is in fact the British themselves that mostly come up with deranged and over-zealous implementations of EU directives in national law, just so the British govt. can continue to be control freaks, but blame the EU.

    The British media is complicit. Even the BBC had an article recently about how bus companies have to force their passengers to change buses on long-distance routes "because of crazy EU law".
  • They hope that the MPAA (etc) will be angry enough about this to put pressure on the US government to fix the problem.
    Hmmmm, that would be a great idea, but the US way of 'fixing the problem' might not be what they hope for.
  • by Skye16 ( 685048 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @10:13AM (#22881378)
    And this is where we're going to have to disagree.

    In our country, our individual states can make laws, and our federal government can make laws. What flies in Massachusetts may not fly in Utah (Gay Marriage, for instance). That's one of the things we love about our country; we can still be American, but go to another state that allows us to do the things we wish to do.

    The Federal Government can enter into treaties; this is true. But they don't necessarily have the right to force states to comply with those treaties (depending on the situation). In this case, they'd have to pass a law stating that all gambling is illegal, and I highly doubt that would work.

    So, in this case, they're stuck between a rock and a hard place...and an anvil. And another rock. Outlaw gambling on the federal level, make it a law that states have to allow gambling, allow Antigua to provide online gambling services to states who do not want gambling, or, I suppose, do nothing.

    I can tell you none of these are going to happen except maybe the latter, and they're going to be blasted for it. But once you know how our government is structured, you realize compliance is a pie in the sky affair. So, by all means, the WTO can do what they need to do, and we'll just have to live with it. It sucks, but there is no solution that is reasonable for all parties involved - at least to them, and there is no solution that would pass political muster except for the standard "fuck the world, they're telling us what to do!" way that comes so easy to our self-righteous, stubborn asses.
  • I'll say it again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phantom of the Opera ( 1867 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @12:01PM (#22882738) Homepage
    Clinton lied about a blowjob under oath.
    Bush lied in his oath of office about defending the constitution.

    I know which I think is treasonous.
  • by freedom_india ( 780002 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @01:18PM (#22883558) Homepage Journal

    They complain about the lack of good paying jobs,and living with a corrupt government
    No, they don't. They want good paying jobs in their country. One that allows them to harvest and sow back same corn they have been doing for 50 generations. They want to make Pita bread with their own corn.
    Have they been able to do so?
    Monsanto demands payment each year from such corn growers and in additon makes the corrupt government send troops to quell "dissidence" when farmers too poor refuse to pay and try to reuse corn.

    I agree, lumber is just a symptom. There are far bigger fish to fry: US Steel industry, GM crops being imposed on other countries leading to mass suicides, refusal to open up textile markets, refusal to open up or stop subsidizing food markets.
  • by mdarksbane ( 587589 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @03:25PM (#22885204)
    Oh, I'm not surprised the rest of the world hates the US.

    I'm just saying that every country who is in a position to force agreements to their advantage, does. Canada is stuck hoping that people are fair because they're usually the little guy trading with the big guy - you get stuck playing with the big guy's rules.

    It sucks, but it's the way things are, and don't think for a minute it wouldn't be reversed if Canada were the more powerful trading partner. It's not "The US is Evil," it's "Everyone's Evil, but the US is Evil *and* powerful."

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito