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Government Piracy Your Rights Online

WSJ Says Pro-ACTA Forces Helped Drive Anti-ACTA Reactions 180

pbahra writes with commentary from the Wall Street Journal: "Europeans will take to the streets this weekend in protest at the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, an international agreement that has given birth to an ocean full of red herrings. That so many have spawned is, say critics, in no small part down to the way in which this most controversial of international agreements was drawn up. If the negotiating parties had set out to stoke the flames of Internet paranoia they could not have done a better job. Accepted there are two things that should never be seen being made in public—laws and sausages—the ACTA process could be a case study of how not to do it. Conducted in secret, with little information shared except a few leaked documents, the ACTA talks were even decried by those who were involved in them."
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WSJ Says Pro-ACTA Forces Helped Drive Anti-ACTA Reactions

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:42AM (#38981193)

    It's no wonder they had to do this in secret, giving companies the right to dictate to goverments is bad no matter which way you look t it

  • Leaked docs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:42AM (#38981195)

    If anybody has any bad feelings towards Wikileaks, let the ACTA serve as a reminder that the only reason we even know of it is because somebody on the inside provided it and Wikileaks released it.

  • FTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by g0bshiTe ( 596213 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:45AM (#38981233)

    “The agreement is seeking to address a number of very different issues of which some are serious problems of public health and public safety, for example trade in fake medicine,” Ms. Schaake said. “But that issue doesn’t compare to the alleged cost to society of online piracy

    So human life that is damaged from taking a counterfeit drug is worth less than what rights holders lose due to piracy? Or did I just interpret that wrong?

  • by at10u8 ( 179705 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:45AM (#38981235)
    'laws and sausages' is attributed to von Bismarck. Is it not the case that every RFC is basically an international trade agreement? The process of making them is very different than ACTA. Which produces the more effective result?
  • Re:Leaked docs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by g0bshiTe ( 596213 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:47AM (#38981249)
    My thoughts, if someone on the inside thought enough to post it and people for it were so much against it being outed then there must be some bad in it. If you don't want the public to know of a bill being passed then there is something inherently wrong with the bill you are trying to pass.
  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:53AM (#38981311)
    The old adage is about how you might not want to know how sausages and laws are made; it has nothing to do with making them in public. In fact, that's rather contrary to the premise of the rest of the post.

    As unpleasant as it may be to watch the process, laws and sausages are precisely the kinds of things you DO want to be made in public, so you can see just exactly what goes into them.
  • by FoolishOwl ( 1698506 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:57AM (#38981371) Journal

    There is an underlying problem: our model of intellectual property simply doesn't make sense for the real world, and more importantly, this is obvious to nearly everyone, and is at odds with how we actually use digital information. The deeper issue is that this starts to bring into question models of property. We have always had artificial scarcity layered on actual scarcity, as a sort of exaggeration. That works when the disparity between actual and apparent scarcity is not too great. But it's obvious to most people that scarcity in copying digital media is wholly artificial. Pushing too hard may lead to people asking questions the WSJ would rather they didn't ask.

  • Re:FTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:57AM (#38981381)

    The whole counterfeit medicine issue is a red herring. Counterfeit drugs are not vetted and approved by the FDA/EMA and hence should be prosecuted based on that basis (whether or not they infringe on any trademarks or patents is irrelevant if you're talking about safety; in fact, one could argue the chance that they are dangerous in case they do infringe on patents may actually be smaller).

    Apart from that there are the generic medicines, which are properly tested and approved. Issues surrounding those are purely related to intellectual property law without any relation to safety. And more often than not, those issues are (legal or not) abuse by rightsholders related to continuation patents, fighting parallel imports, or thwarting transport to countries where those patents are not valid through countries where they do apply.

  • by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:07AM (#38981505) Homepage

    You can put lipstick on a pig, but its still a pig.

    No matter how you went about pushing ACTA, people would have been upset. It was kept secretly because big content companies were hoping that it would be passed before anybody realized it was happening.

    ACTA could not be passed in most places with a fully informed public & electorate.

  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:08AM (#38981509)

    is ACTA.

  • Re:FTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tsingi ( 870990 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {kcir.maharg}> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:08AM (#38981511)
    Exactly my thoughts. If you are creating a product that harms people, whether or not you have the legal right to create that product in the first place is a totally separate matter.

    There are approved medicines killing people all the time. Big Pharma only cares about your money, not your health. In this case the law is not concerned with your health either, only that Big Pharma gets your money and not someone else. It has nothing to do with how dangerous the drug is.

  • I would love it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:11AM (#38981549) Homepage Journal

    if people would stop using the subject as part of the message body. It's not, it's a totally separate field (for a reason)

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:12AM (#38981555)
    ah... you think the government has your best interest at heart. The truth is, they don't... and they don't want you finding that out.
  • Re:FTFA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SomeKDEUser ( 1243392 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:24AM (#38981719)

    Sadly, you interpret that right. This is coming from the WSJ, where being rich makes you a more worthwhile human. Therefore, as the majority of the pirates have less wealth than the RIAA, they are worth less.

    Also, the thing about wealth? it does not only increase your value as an individual. Once you are rich, it means you deserved it, and you should never be allowed to be poor again. Because that would be unfair.

    So yes, this tripe is exactly what one would expect from the WSJ.

  • I don't (Score:4, Insightful)

    by qbast ( 1265706 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:30AM (#38981801)
  • Re:From TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:33AM (#38981843)

    Everyone is very keen on sharing until it is their stuff that is being shared.

    "You're (presumably) a hypocrite. Therefore, all of your arguments are invalidated and sharing is objectively bad."

  • by Tsingi ( 870990 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {kcir.maharg}> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:45AM (#38982065)

    You sound like an economist, but I agree with you anyway.

    From TFA:

    “If you say copying other people’s copyright is an OK thing to do, then you are saying that theft is OK. Everyone is very keen on sharing until it is their stuff that is being shared.”
    He said that there was a lot of misinformation about the agreement. “It does not alter the underlying law. It is an agreement, not an Act.
    “It is more like a convention of mutual support between signatory countries that they will work to enforce intellectual property rights of individuals or businesses who can prove their rights have been infringed.”

    The problem with copyright is that it is too severe. Copyright originally existed to limit the power of private individuals to own what belonged in the commons. To answer to this, a limit was placed on the amount of time that works that should be considered culture and a benefit to society, could remain private property.
    The problem being that they (The booksellers) owned all culture, and if you could not afford to pay their prices, then that culture, your culture, was not available to you. Under these conditions, culture is restricted from society rather than being a benefit to it.
    Modern lobbying to extend the length and breadth of copyright is taking us back to that very same situation, where all works are owned privately by big media, and public ownership of culture (the commons) is fading away.

    You must pay!

    The response to this by the public has been to ignore copyright altogether. It isn't so much that the concept of copyright is viewed as wrong, it's that it has become too restrictive.
    Any law that would have the majority of society guilty is a bad law. If it doesn't look bad on the surface, then maybe you have to look deeper, but the fact remains that it is a bad law.

  • by jpapon ( 1877296 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:56AM (#38982267) Journal
    We were discussing the intended purpose of the subject field; and that is to give a short summary of what the full message contains.

    This allows readers to skip over messages they are not interested in, and use their time more efficiently.

    It's not about what I prefer, it's about efficient communication.

    To follow your pointless analogy, it would be like not labeling containers of cold rice pudding (or labeling them as something else), forcing everyone else to waste their time checking to see what's actually in the container.

  • by offsides ( 1297547 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @12:02PM (#38982363)

    And that is EXACTLY why people are up in arms about it. The governments got together in secret, decided what was "best" for their populations, and then held the pile of papers close to their chest and said "Here it is, isn't it great!" And when the people who were ratifying it asked to see it, the were told, "You don't need to see it, it's in your best interest."

    Unfortunately, it might have ended there, since the majority tends to accept that these days. Except that some of the people who signed the bloody thing then came out and said "Waitaminute! This is really crap, and I shouldn't have signed it!" And that got EVERYBODY's attention, and thankfully people who should have been paying attention all along started to pay attention, and now it's snowballing.

    For better or worse, this may be the beginning of the end of crappy, business-centric, screw-the-people laws and treaties. I'm not saying that it'll stop them 100% right away, but after the pullback on SOPA and PIPA, and now ACTA, the people are starting to figure out that they can use the Internet to get real reactions from their lawmakers, and not just lip service on the campaign trail. Politicians may not want to lose all their "perks" from the lobbyists, but they want to lose their elected positions even less, and sufficient pressure applied by the people who elect them appears to be making an impact...

  • Re:FTFA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2012 @12:07PM (#38982439)

    Actually, "counterfeit medicine" is a euphemism for "generic drugs"

    In the West, yes. In third world nations, it is an enormous problem.

    A couple of years ago, I remember a case where an African nation threatened to yank a western pharma company's license, due to apparent lack of efficacy of their antimalarials. Well, it turns out that while the shelves were full of "their" product, the western company barely sold anything in that country at all. The fakes typically contained just enough active ingredient to make you feel better and confuse simple tests. Or sometimes not even that, just some Tylenol or such to bring down the fever.

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @12:16PM (#38982571)

    You're missing the point that Bismarck was making, and that is very apparent today: very few people LIKE watching sausage being made, and quite a few recoil in horror at the process. Especially when the sausage being made is being made quickly and cheaply. Same goes for laws. Have you noticed how very few people today have any idea who is supposed to do what in our government? The discussion around the debt ceiling alone was worth a few million facepalms, as people were watching sausage being made, and got squeamish because they saw things they didn't understand and didn't expect to see.

    What Bismarck was referring to was that Democracy wasn't some pure process where people held hands as they arrived at a peaceful consensus on how exactly to distribute the collected tax money. It is an ugly, brutal process that many people don't think about when they consume the delicious result.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @12:26PM (#38982717) Homepage

    Well, there's an obvious way to get around that problem.

    Keep obviously stupid sh*t out of the process. If you are running a committee then keep on topic and disallow stuff that will obviously alienate the people watching.

    Certain ideas should not even be brought up. If they are contrary to your nation's founding guiding principles, perhaps they should not be sneaked into legislation.

    There is no reason the process can't tolerate full transparency.

    This is equally true for making sausage.

    If the customer objects to the process, you're probably doing something wrong and need to stop doing that sh*t.

  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @12:58PM (#38983275)

    ust like you wouldn't want to see the pieces of pig snout and various orifices going into the grinder and coming out as your lunch, you wouldn't want to see the bickering, infighting, back-stabbing, and other types of anti-social behavior that are combined to make our laws.

    I think that's the point - good quality sausages don't have all that crap going in. Allowing us to see the process tells us whether we want to buy them or not, because we can see what goes in.

    The same goes for laws. If we see our politicians behaving like spoilt children, or obviously working against their own constituents, or just shoving cronyist crap into law, we should know, even at the early stages, so we can get rid of the laws and the assholes,

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