It looks like the US wants to export something new to the world, now we are not talking about a technology. We are talking about our draconian copyright laws. You remember those nasty laws that the entertainment industry and software companies keep extending and expanding. For years our government has tried to be the police for these groups with laws like SOPA, PIPA Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection act and more. Well they are trying to force other countries to adopt these same rules and using trade agreements to do it. They have already been stopped once with ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) when they tried to remove the rights of individual countries to establish their own laws and are at it again with the Trans Pacific Partnership.
Well it looks like CISPA has been shot down in the US for now. This was thanks to a fairly big internet campaign to let people know that the vote was happening (it was voted on yesterday) and while most of the world was watching the antics of Samsung and Apple the Senate tried to vote the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act into law. But to be honest with you toward the end (and as we get closer to the elections) we had a feeling this one would be scrapped. It was too much for many voters who already feel their privacy is being abused. The Senators knew that passing this would be a quick ticket back home as the popular opinion was against them.
As predicted Judge David Harvey (who called the US “The Enemy” in Copyright Law) has stepped down from presiding over the Dotcom extradition case. Yesterday we reported on Harvey’s views of the US Government’s (and entertainment industry’s) efforts to force US copyright laws on foreign countries as a requirement of trade agreements. This move, by the US, has sparked quite a bit of debate including whether the US Trade Rep has the authority to enact these deals without congressional oversight. With ACTA and TPP the USTR has had more meetings with the entertainment industry than with the congressional bodies that are supposed to handle oversight on these treaties.
We have previously reported that the US entertainment industry is trying very hard to push their version of the “law” out to the rest of the world. They have, quite literally, spent billions of dollars lobbying and campaigning to get the laws made in their favor. Now the fact that these laws include exceptionally oppressive measures, remove due process and also make even the most mundane violations into major crimes does not concern them. All they want to do is make sure that they keep control of the content and the money it brings in.
In a world where corporate interests are slavishly followed to the detriment of society by elected officials one man stands above it all. Lamar Smith is that man, out for justice for the people that pay his campaign bills and he will stop at nothing… Ok so enough of the very cheesy intro here. Out point is that Lamar Smith is back and trying to find a way to implement SOPA any way he can. If you are surprised then you must have been living under a rock for a while.
As someone that has followed the online “hacking” community since its infancy (war dialing anyone) I can say with a fair amount of confidence that the guys what kicked it all off (Like Steve Wozniak) would be proud of where some of the movement has gone. In the early 80’s War Dialing was something of a fun sport, you dialed a range of numbers until a computer answered and then you tried to talk to it. A lot of the activity was aimed at “corrupt businesses and government agencies” right alongside the people looking to just do it because it was something new and exciting.
In what can only be described as a “the pot calling the kettle” style move corporations, the US Congress and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) have all gotten together to keep the Internet Free. When we first read the headlines about the UN having a conference in Dubai to discuss the possibility of moving governance of some aspects of the Internet to them (actually the ITU) we chuckled a little bit. When we heard the garbage spewing from members of congress and the FCC we began to outright laugh.
We have been following the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) since it first leaked into the public eye. The agreement (as we have said) appears to be only about counterfeit physical goods, but anyone who really takes a look at the few leaked details (which have been kept pretty secret) will find that it is more about copyright law and protecting the IP of the software and entertainment industry (mostly the US portion of it) and restricting countries rights to enact and change their own laws outside of the agreement.
The EU Parliament will be voting on ACTA this week. If you have been living under a rock lately ACTA (Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement) is a US backed bit of legislation that wants to establish better control over the internet for copyright holders. The agreement has been the subject of controversy not only for the oppressive terms, but also for the secretive way in which it has been presented. In many cases only certain members of a country’s government have been given access why the copyright lobbies have had full access and a hand in setting it up.
ACTA is in the news again today as we hear from more than a few people on the implications of the treaty and what consequences it might have. Interestingly it looks like ACTA was originally designed to handle the large scale manufacture and distribution of counterfeit physical products (for prescription drugs actually). Some have suggested that the import of items (like the fake Gucci and Fendi bags you can find for sale on some street corners…) has a drastic impact on the sales and profit of those companies. This is the same logic that is put forward for the theft of virtual property like IP, music, and videos.