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US Blocking Costa Rican Sugar Trade To Force IP Laws 441

For the last couple of days news has been trickling in about how the US is trying to ram IP laws down Costa Rica's throat by blocking their access to the US sugar market. Techdirt has a good summary of the various commentaries and a related scoop in the Bahamas where the US is also applying IP pressure. "The first is in Costa Rica, which is included in the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Yet like with other free trade agreements that the US has agreed to elsewhere, this one includes draconian intellectual property law requirements. I still cannot understand why intellectual monopoly protectionism — the exact opposite of 'free trade' — gets included in free trade agreements. At least in Costa Rica, a lot of people started protesting these rules, pointing out that it would be harmful for the economy, for education and for healthcare. So the Costa Rican government has not moved forward with such laws. How has the US responded? It's blocking access to the US market of Costa Rican sugar until Costa Rica approves new copyright laws."
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US Blocking Costa Rican Sugar Trade To Force IP Laws

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  • Sugar middlemen... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @02:46PM (#30810786) Journal

    Makes me want to setup shop on an island to buy sugar from Costa Rica solely for the purpose of reselling it to the US so Costa Rica can maintain their dignity.

    And any other resource for that matter... maybe some type of ship exchange like you do with Propane. Hell, I could corner the market on all sugar imports so they won't be able to tell how much of it is Costa Rica sugar...

  • Re:Never Fear!!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @02:53PM (#30810858) Journal

    Kind of makes you wonder how much of the presentation the lobbyists did included the HFCS and corn production losses to the amount of sugar being imported...

  • Free trade (Score:5, Interesting)

    by krou ( 1027572 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @02:54PM (#30810870)

    I still cannot understand why intellectual monopoly protectionism — the exact opposite of "free trade" — gets included in free trade agreements.

    You misunderstand the meaning of free trade/the free market. It's free as in free for the more advanced economies, but not for the rest. Historically, countries like Europe and America (and others) have strengthened their economies by violating free market principles, and enforcing them on others.

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @02:54PM (#30810872)

    actually read and thought about the damn agreement before signing it.

  • Ok US complainers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ifwm ( 687373 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @03:07PM (#30811026) Journal

    How many of you know, specifically, your elected representatives' views on international trade?

    And how many of you plan to claim you did, but really didn't,and had to look it up when I called you on it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2010 @03:07PM (#30811032)
    This is just wrong... US its just a Bully... President Chavez is right. Cant wait to see all the stupid replies to my comment.
  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @03:11PM (#30811068) Homepage

    If laws differed between member nations then one nation would be able to use intellectual property to manufacture their goods which was prohibited by other members thus creating an unfair advantage.

    That's only unfair if the other nations' laws are themselves fair. And of course, what's fair can vary quite a lot depending on one's circumstances. You're essentially suggesting the equivalent of a flat tax, where everyone is taxed the same amount in currency, regardless of ability to pay or the ratio of one's overall income or wealth to the amount of the tax. It's generally accepted that progressive taxes are more fair, where the amount you pay is proportional to the amount you have and can afford. Why shouldn't we try a similar model here? Given that copyright laws govern importation already, which avoids the problem of arbitrage, what's so bad about this? Further, shouldn't each nation strive to enact laws that best serve its own people? I'd be happy to have Costa Rica decide for itself what sorts of copyright laws would best serve Costa Ricans, so long as the US was similarly free of pernicious influences that result in a law that isn't as good for its people as possible, whether those influences are from without or within.

  • by javilon ( 99157 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @03:17PM (#30811132) Homepage

    You would be doing good and you would get rich. And you would prove that the market always find a way :-)

  • ip law is defunct (Score:5, Interesting)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquareNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday January 18, 2010 @03:40PM (#30811442) Homepage Journal

    its a direct, unavoidable consequence of the rise of the internet

    ip laws only make sense when they are a gentleman's agreement among a handful of publishers. they are completely unenforceable when every teenager in his basement is a publisher to anyone else at zero cost, for anything you want

    the wise thing for costa rica to do is simply agree to whatever the usa demands ip law wise. and then its business as usual. which is: everything is available with no ip restrictions to anyone remotely familiar with a computer console

    enforcement is impossible, even for the usa within its own borders, so who fucking cares what the lawyers and bureaucrats and corporations say? they've already been routed around

    i'm not saying you shouldn't get upset at the arrogance and the audacity of the american demands, i'm saying a bully making demands without any actual ability to follow through on his threats is nothing you have to pay any respect to

    you simply pay the asshole lip service, put a big smile on your face, say "yes" to whatever the asshole wants, and then its business as usual, which is: ip laws mean nothing. all of the posturing and threats and demands mean nothing. there's NO ENFORCEMENT POSSIBLE

      let all the corporate lawyers, midlevel bureaucrats amd other pointless yammering meat popsicles create all the ip laws and agreements they want

    WHO FUCKING CARES. they can't enforce any of it. its the internet age. this is not vhs copy machines in a warehouse or cd duplicators in the closet. you can't shut down the internet

    people: stop getting upset at these retards trying to enforce laws from a previous technological era and just igore them and their petty demands without any muscle behind them. they can't stop technological change. they are defunct, they just don't know it

  • Re:Never Fear!!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @03:52PM (#30811606) Journal

    The other day, over a Mexican Coca Cola (real sugar), I said to my companion something along the lines of "drink up, this is the ONLY benefit of Free Trade for the common man".

    The US has done everything to make real sugar more expensive, shoving all the HFCS at us. Mexican Coca Cola via NAFTA really is the only tangible benefit I can think of from all this Free Trade multinational corporate nonsense. And if you think about it, it's not really a benefit at all since before the corn lobby captured Congress, we used to mix up Coca Cola with real sugar on THIS side of the border.

    So. I stand corrected. Still no real benefit to the current Free Trade regime.

  • Re:Never Fear!!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MattSausage ( 940218 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @04:07PM (#30811784)
    Since you brought it up. I actually saw a High Fructose Corn Syrup advertisement of all things, on the Food Network the other day. Maybe I'm behind the times, but pushing HFCS seems pretty much as irresponsible as pushing nicotine at least. And it wasn't that they were advertising, "Hey buy our stuff!" no, the ad showed one mother pouring what appeared to be Kool-Aid for a bunch of kids, then another mother coming up to say "Hey! Stop that, HFCS is bad!" the other lady goes "Why?, .......... the first lady stares like an idiot. And then kool-aid lady goes into a spiel about how it's made from CORN, which is natural, and can't be that bad, and everything is fine in moderation, and they both have a big heaping glass of High fructose corn syrup. Something seems distinctly...off... about that commercial.
  • Value added (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zogger ( 617870 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @05:45PM (#30813030) Homepage Journal

    If they don't like the deal, then they shouldn't take it (and I wouldn't blame them either). They could take their really cheap sugar and make it a value added more lucrative product by turning it into ethanol fuel, like Brazil does, for instance. Or repurpose the extra sugar cane fields into another valuable food crop, rice maybe? Probably any number of good crops can be grown in that sort of soil.

        I don't think Costa Rica has much of anything for a domestic oil supply, it's all imported, so making their own fuel makes more economic sense for them long range, plus adds to national energy independence, which in today's world is a big security issue. Every time you add an additional value added layer to a raw resource..well, that's why they call it "value added". The good stuff distilled from sugar cane squeezings you drink or sell, it is rum, all the other, in the tank.

    Then maybe they wouldn't need the US market all that much and could just ignore it.

    And it works both ways, as a farmer I am tuned to the security issues of both food and fuel, I think it is *perfectly* acceptable and understandable why any nation would want to maintain a core minimum amount of both food and fuel produced domestically, even if temporarily it might be cheaper on some global market. Heck, look at Japan, they go way out of their way to make sure they have *some* intact farming..they want to at all times be able to feed themselves and not be held hostage for such a critical necessity. Ya it costs them a *lot* more, but it is food insurance. And you really can't put a price on that insurance until some theoretical time when if you didn't have it, all of a sudden your imports stop and..well, that would suck. You'd figure out it was worth it..after the fact. Too late then.

      And frankly, if you look at some of the nations that run huge monoculture farms to supply the US or Europe (or now it will be China using African farmland and some of the richer oil exporting mideast nations doing the same), they do so at the expense of the bulk of their own people, instead of growing a variety of food *first*, to feed their own people first as a national priority, they fixate on this external trade large crop, usually run by some local fatcats/cartels, that go to those foreign markets. Makes these fatcats rich, while their own people go hungrier than they should.

    Malawi in Africa figured this out, crops for export *as the priority* was bankrupting them and leaving their people to starve all the time. A few people were getting rich there, everyone else.... They switched to "feed the nation first" as their ag policy, including government subsidies and so on, and now they are doing much better. Both their domestic food supply got better, and now they can export more again, just by shifting priorities and working smarter with what they have.

    http://allafrica.com/stories/200907020548.html [allafrica.com]

  • Re:Never Fear!!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BoberFett ( 127537 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:07PM (#30813300)

    They are also selling Mountain Dew and Dr Pepper that way. I bought a case of each and frankly I find them much better tasting than their corn syrup counterparts. It may be kind of a "no duh" thing to say, but they're not as syrupy tasting.

  • by SLi ( 132609 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:41PM (#30813730)

    You mean you would be willing to give costa ricans 200 year patentability in the US if their law grants patents for 200 years? I guess that would be quite profitable for Costa Rica, but for some reason you seem to believe the terms are for the US to decide. Which is absolute rubbish.

    There is no natural God-given right for developed countries to first import slaves from developing countries, then make them slaves in their own countries making running shoes, and then when they finally start to get on their own feet, tell them they cannot make and give aids and malaria drugs to their own citizens because "we invented them first". It's a very modern idea that you can dictate to another government that they cannot medicate their own citizens with whatever means they have domestically available. And it's also idiotic.

  • Why Sugar you said? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr. Daemon ( 11643 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:20PM (#30814130) Homepage

    Why is the US using sugar instead of a bigger product for Costa Rica, like coffee or bananas?

    I'll tell you why, there's a controlling elite in Costa Rica that has managed the country for a few years already, and the head of this elite is the current President and his brother, Oscar and Rodrigo Arias, which in turn own the biggest sugar cane fields in the country. So the attack is directly to their pockets and so they move all their influence to enforce the IP law, that includes stupid rules as that every restaurant or public place will have to pay royalty to the RIAA equivalent in our country if they play the radio to keep their customers entertained!

    The worst case is that the oposition in our country is not well organized nor has the intellectual strength to fight this kind of laws, plus the elite has majority in congress, so the IP laws have some resistance, but they have not been approved because congress is to darn slow to do anything, so we'll get them eventually.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead