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Intellectual Property: Some Countries Are More Equal Than Others

Article by Kevin Carson.
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For years, global digital copyright treaties and IP provisions of assorted “free trade” agreements have been drafted in secret by proprietary content industries. Even the digital copyright laws of ostensibly independent countries have been drafted by lobbyists from those same industries, and rubber stamped by the national parliaments with most of their members never even having a chance to read them.

For example, a large batch of diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks in April include several on a massive effort by the global entertainment industry to model Canada’s copyright laws on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Wikileaks also released hundreds of cables showing the U.S. content industries essentially wrote New Zealand’s “three-strikes” legislation — and the U.S. government even offered to fund New Zealand’s copyright-enforcement police at American taxpayer expense. Spain’s new copyright law was also written by global entertainment industry lobbyists.

The old Spanish law, incidentally, was comparatively sane, with private file-sharing for personal use covered by the fair-use doctrine and third parties like ISPs and torrent sites treated as safe harbors. As a result Spain, like Canada, had been on the U.S. copyright cops’ “Special 301″ list of the “worst of the worst” offenders.

In cables released by Wikileaks on the negotiation of ACTA, support for the treaty by such countries as Russia and China was treated as a gauge of “free market” friendliness of those countries, to be used as a stick in negotiations over other trade provisions desired by those countries.

Against this background of secrecy and corruption, it’s interesting that the major developed countries previously involved in drafting digital copyright treaties are squealing like stuck pigs about a proposal by developing nations to hold their own private inter-regional conferences on IP laws within the World Intellectual Property Organization framework. In response to complaints from the developed countries, the developing countries proposed making only the first conference private and allowing the developed countries to attend a second one with non-voting “observer status.” No dice, said the rich fat white boys. “No meeting should be restricted to only some members” (seriously).

One law for the lion and one for the lamb is tyranny.

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