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Google Pushes Back Against US Copyright Treaty 233

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-upset-the-google dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Internet companies led by Google joined groups representing Web users to challenge the Bush administration's bid to toughen international enforcement against copyright pirates. The companies said the US courts and Congress are still working out the correct balance between protecting copyrights and the free exchange of information on the Web and a treaty could be counterproductive. 'There's this assumption that what is good for Disney is what's good for America, but that's an oversimplification,' said Jonathan Band, an intellectual property lawyer representing libraries and high-tech companies. 'There's also what's good for Yahoo and Google.' The US, Japan, Canada and other nations said last year that they would begin negotiations on an agreement aimed at cracking down on counterfeiting of such goods as watches and pharmaceuticals, and the piracy of copyrighted materials, such as software and music recordings. A leaked draft of the deal showed that the treaty could force Internet service providers to cooperate with copyright holders."
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Google Pushes Back Against US Copyright Treaty

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  • WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @06:43PM (#25128689)

    "There's this assumption that what is good for Disney is what's good for America, but that's an oversimplification," said Jonathan Band, an intellectual property lawyer representing libraries and high-tech companies. "There's also what's good for Yahoo and Google."

    What about what's good for PEOPLE????!!!!

    • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @06:46PM (#25128731)
      What about what's good for PEOPLE????!!!!

      That went straight out the window ages ago. Didn't you get the memo?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Kemanorel (127835)

        Yeah, I got the memo. I'll be putting the new covers on the TPS reports next time. I just forgot.

      • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Oktober Sunset (838224) <`ku.oc.oohay' `ta' `301egapds'> on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @07:46PM (#25129333)
        No, they just inserted the word 'rich' in front of people.
        • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Wildclaw (15718) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:56PM (#25130265)

          No, they just inserted the word 'rich' in front of people.

          Sure. What do you expect when you elect people who are richer than average and spend their time in richer societal circles.

          Politicians have a good deal of self interest just like everyone else. If you elect people who aren't "ordinary" citizens, then you won't get people who represent ordinary citizens. It is as simple as that.

          That is why I support randomocracy. Select politicans by random. It is fair and ensures that no societal special interests get any priority.

          Of course, there will always be protesters to the idea, claiming that the average citizen is an idiot and that elections stops those from getting elected. However, looking at some of those who actually are elected right now, you can see that that argument doesn't make a lot of sense. Intelligence is currently not a prerequisite for being elected. Charisma, advertising and connections are.

          Also, if you really want to ensure some qualifications you can always have those elected perform a competency test before being allowed to serve as a politican.

          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            How about just electing people who aren't rich? Vote for the poor guy! Also, nominate the poor guy!

            And if you see someone spending money on their campaign, don't vote for them.

            • by sumdumass (711423)

              It wouldn't matter Greed has no bounds. It would probably effect the poor guy who has wanted all their life faster then the rich guy who has probably never wanted for anything other then human affection.

              In the end, we would have worse then what we already have. Most rich politicians are richer after going to Washington.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by ceoyoyo (59147)

                I disagree. I think there are lots of people who would make excellent politicians but they don't want to devote their lives to it. With the system most of us have today (including the US), in order to get enough money to run a campaign you basically have to sell yourself to some corporations. By the time you're elected you're bought and paid for.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by AvitarX (172628)

            The problem with that is numbers.

            Even statisticians say you need more than a few hundred to get a good sample, and I know I certainly don't want to be represented by one random person in my state (they are likely to be as radical as me, but in a different direction).

            I agree that in principal it would be better, certainly making it so being conniving was not a benefit, and probably be harder to rig too (we have already figured out how to keep things fair in the lotto for example). But do we really want thou

            • But do we really want thousands of representatives?, there would need to be some kind of hierarchy established...

              It's called "Federalism." Look it up. (And then lament the butchering it's undergone for the last 150 years).

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by ckaminski (82854)
              The technology is here, let everyone have their vote. Politicians can still get paid for writing laws, but all of America gets to vote for them.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by snowraver1 (1052510)
                RAmen to that! Every vote in parliment should be a question put to the people. Oh, so you want to call an election do you? Well, the people think it's a waste of money, tough balls, stick out your minority government. Oh, the RIAA & Co. want more strict penaltys for downloaders. Tough luck, the people don't. Retroactive immunity to telcos? Let 'em burn, we hate them anyways.
          • I've been pushing government by random lot for the last 15 years or more. What I suggest is we pick ~300 random citizens, 100 every 2 years to serve a 6 year term. They make up a unicameral parliamentary style body, who elect a prime minister from their own numbers. To try and prevent bribery, we pay them well, and at the end of their term, they get a life pension they can retire on, say 10-20x the minimum wage.

      • What about what's good for PEOPLE????!!!!

        That went straight out the window ages ago. Didn't you get the memo?

        Only one person got it, but it was copyrighted so he couldn't send copies to anyone else.

    • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by philspear (1142299) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @06:46PM (#25128733)

      Keep in mind the quote was brief and may have been taken out of context. He may have just been talking about the motivation of the pro-buisiness lobbyists.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Your statement...

      What about what's good for PEOPLE????!!!!

      Their statement...

      but that's an oversimplification

    • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daimanta (1140543) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @07:04PM (#25128933) Journal

      If I had modpoints, you'd get +1 Funny from me.

      If Democracy actually gave power to the people, it would have been abolished a long time ago.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Democracy is really just an optimization method to ensure that people never have to suffer through good governance.

      • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Informative)

        by ScrewMaster (602015) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @08:14PM (#25129587)
        Contrary to widely-held belief, Democracy has never been tried on any significant scale. Neither has Communism.
        • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by fabs64 (657132) <beaufabry+slashdot,org&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @10:06PM (#25130339)
          Define "significant". Athenian democracy was fairly close so long as you ignore the historical givens.
      • by ATMD (986401)

        > If Democracy actually gave power to the people, it would have been abolished a long time ago.

        Isn't that precisely what has happened?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by dwarg (1352059)

        If Democracy actually gave power to the people, it would have been abolished a long time ago.

        Abolished by whom? We've gotten to the place we're at today, not because a bunch of evil overlords forced us into it, but because the vast majority of citizens would rather watch TV than pay attention to what their government is doing.

        Had "they" tried to abolish democracy a hundred years ago there would have been a revolution. Today there would just be a bunch of bitching on the blogs... and /. of course.

        --
        I'm a glass half full kind of guy

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          well, given that we are a republic that uses portions of democracy and most people don't even understand the makeup of the country or the states within it or what the term democracy actually means in this, I'm betting that people who think it is gone never understood what the there originally.

          Tell me, what is missing today that was there at some point in history? Here is a hint, politicians aren't obligated to take a poll and do what the people want, they are obligated to serving the office they were electe

    • Re:WTF?! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jbeach (852844) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @07:08PM (#25128979) Homepage Journal
      It's a good thing there's other corporate empires the size of Disney, so that this can be fought and won. Otherwise it would be Disney vs. rights of the average US citizen- which would basically be a replay of Godzilla vs. Bambi.
    • I find myself avoiding products and services from companies that try to crap on my rights. I believe I am not the only one, since over the years many of these companies have withered or died. They can blame piracy, they can make up excuses for their shrinking bottom lines, but in the end the cause of their demise is their hostility to the very people that made them great in the first place.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The proble mis when they have the right to affect your rights even if you don't use their products. Like the iPod searching border guards we're all afraid ACTA might create.

    • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rrohbeck (944847) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @07:44PM (#25129305)

      You submit a couple hundred grand in financing to your representative, then you'll have a voice too.

    • by aeoo (568706)

      No shit. I noticed that right away. What a bunch of filthy scumbags. Frankly I don't think any copyrights should be respected if that's the climate we are in.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Yeah, I thought that was hilarious. I read it out loud to everyone in the room. I wonder if he realizes what he said....

    • Do you own a senetor? Do you realize the amount of effort that you have to go to in order to care for and feed your own pet lawmaker? Quit being selfish, those people paid a fortune for their version of the law.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lpq (583377)

      Do they have well funded lobbyists?

      That's an idea...maybe the people need a federal office of lobbying for lobbying for the PEOPLE?

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @06:44PM (#25128711) Homepage

    That's all the information I need.

    They know it won't get passed if it's done publicly.

    • by aeoo (568706) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:31PM (#25130129) Journal

      They can pass their little secret treaties, but how long and how seriously do they think people who are not privy to these secret meetings will honor these treaties?

      If our rights as common people are being so openly snubbed, then this means the end of the copyright, because no one is going to respect it.

      This is already happening, but I am surprised these copyright idiots don't see that what they are doing, these secret meetings and taking into consideration only "powerful" interests is destroying what they want to accomplish. They forget that without people getting on board of this train it is going nowhere fast.

    • by Pichu0102 (916292)

      They know it won't get passed if it's done publicly.

      No, they just don't want to deal with the complaints from the minority of the people they govern who actually care nitpicking at it.

      They could do it publicly easily, but they would get bothered more.

  • by voss (52565) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @06:49PM (#25128771)

    was the "safe harbor" provision. It basically kept the ISP's and websites for the most part out of the net-cop business.

    btw: When one of the few very profitable American companies in this current economy makes a statement like

    "It really could be used as a way of restricting the growth of U.S. Internet companies overseas"

    perhaps the US government should listen

  • A leaked draft of the deal showed that the treaty could force Internet service providers to cooperate with copyright holders.

    We don't need another RIAA or MPAA.

  • by puppetman (131489) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @06:56PM (#25128823) Homepage

    copyrights and patents.

    Germany used to be quite famous for making fakes of machines used in the British textile manufacturing effort (right down to copying the name of the manufacturer). Many European countries didn't bother with patent protection as it interferred with their ability to make cheap knock offs.

    If Einstein had been a chemist, he wouldn't have been working in the Swiss patent office, because at the time, the Swiss believed that you couldn't patent anything chemical. Canada didn't recongize drug patents until the 1960s (if memory serves).

    This rich-country enforcement of patents and copyright is "kicking away the ladder" - most first-world countries conveniently ignored patents during their development, when it was to their economic benefit to be able to rip technology off from more well-to-do nations.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      The proper response to your comment is "so the fuck what?". First world countries also used to work children into the grave. They also didn't have unions, or pensions, or health insurance (private or public), or any number of things.

      • by puppetman (131489) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:28PM (#25130095) Homepage

        The point was that patents benefit rich, developed countries. Ignoring patents and copyright benefits poor countries (who, by the way, rarely have unions, pensions, or all that other first-world stuff you mentioned).

        The World Bank and IMF have made up a fairy tale that the developed countries of the world became rich thanks to free trade and patents, which is crap. They became rich thanks to trade barriers, tariffs and turning a blind eye.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Germany used to be quite famous for making fakes of machines used in the British textile manufacturing effort (right down to copying the name of the manufacturer). Many European countries didn't bother with patent protection as it interferred with their ability to make cheap knock offs.

      Great Britain was the first country in the world to go through an industrial revolution. This was caused by their adoption of a patent system which rewarded innovators and led to the greatest economic empire the world has eve

      • by hedwards (940851)

        The fact that other countries did not adopt a patent system until later doomed them to trail Great Britain in development of the institutions needed to support this industrial revolution. The fact that these countries had to copy the British inventions to compete shows how their own (patent less) systems failed to promote innovation within their own societies.

        Umm, no it means that they were able to save a huge amount of money on R&D while still getting the same products. Meaning they could be made for less and probably only a bit later on.

        Just because you want to interpret it in such a bizarre fashion doesn't mean it's correct. It's always cheaper to copy off of somebody else in the absence of legal consequences. The only reason why it's no longer cheaper is that most countries have patents and there are frequently huge fines/tariffs involved to keep that so

        • Bizarre fashion? If Germany saved so much by copying British ideas, why didn't they gain an economic advantage and supplant the British as the super power of the time?

          Yes, it is cheaper to copy the inventions of others than to develop the exact same inventions yourself. But if you are like Germany and did not have the raw materials (i.e. sources of cotton that England had)? Those inventions are worthless. You need inventions that appropriate to the economic needs within your own economy.

          Germany didn't save

          • by TheDugong (701481) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:34PM (#25130149)
            "If Germany saved so much by copying British ideas, why didn't they gain an economic advantage and supplant the British as the super power of the time?" The British, French, Dutch, Belgians, Japanese, Russians and US (Hawaii, the Philipines etc) had already baggsied most of the world. The Royal Navy could pretty much landlock (other than the Baltic Sea) the Germans at will, if they so chose. This lead to an arms/battleship/dreadnought race.... So, they tried, and that lead to WW1 and then WW2. Finally they succeeded in surpassing Britain in the 1960s, thanks to said wars.
          • by jedidiah (1196)

            Yeah... nevermind everything else Germany had going on at
            that time. It's problems were all about lacking a draconian
            patent regime.

            Sure...

            This crap boggles the mind.

      • by puppetman (131489) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:52PM (#25130251) Homepage

        The fact that these countries had to copy the British inventions to compete shows how their own (patent less) systems failed to promote innovation within their own societies.

        Right - because it's much harder to innovate than copy.

        From Intellectual Property in Free Trade Agreements, by Sanya Reid Smith:

        "If developing countries broaden and lengthen their intellectual property protection beyond their current treaty obligations while they still have reduced capacity to generate their own intellectual property, they can expect to see their royalty outflow increase. For example, according to the Malaysian Governmentâ(TM)s 9th Malaysia Plan, in 2005 there was already estimated to be a net outflow of royalties of US $1.7 billion."

        Patents cost developing countries (who rarely have much patented) yet benefit countries where a large number of valuable patents reside.

        The Swiss did NOT believe that "you could not patent anything chemical". That is ridiculous

        From Intellectual Property in Free Trade Agreements, by Sanya Reid Smith:

        "Prior to TRIPS, countries were able to tailor their level of IP protection to suit their level of development. Many of todayâ(TM)s industrialised countries such as the USA, Europe,5 Japan, South Korea and Taiwan did not have high levels of IP protection until it suited them. For example Switzerland did not allow patents on chemicals until 1978; Italy, Sweden and Switzerland did not allow patents on medicines until 1978 and Spain did not allow patents on chemicals or medicines until 1992 because it said it could not afford the higher medicine prices as a result of patents."

        I am not sure what planet you live on, but it's not earth, Bizarro Slashdot Poster.

    • by schon (31600) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @08:06PM (#25129503)

      Your examples neglect the most prominent example of this - namely the Hollywood movie industry.

      You know why California is the center of the major studios' world? Because they we getting hammered by enforcement of patents when they were on the east coast.

      Hollywood owes it's existence to it's deliberate evasion of "intellectual property" laws.

    • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @08:07PM (#25129521)

      To play MAFIAA's advocate, America is more and more producing ideas rather than tangible goods. If we want to maintain our trade surplus* we need to protect the value of what we produce. Of course, I don't agree with HOW we're doing it, but I can at least see the reasoning. Imagine if piracy actually hurt the producers, this would be an issue.

      *by which I mean prevent further increase to the trade deficit.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by plasmacutter (901737)

        The politicians have deliberately forsaken our manufacturing base.

        This does not, however, mean we should be enforcing some perverse imaginary property in an attempt to maintain economic dominance.

        What we should be doing is abandoning the policies which are killing our manufacturing sector (subsidies, protectionism, bailouts, FTA's) and encouraging a resurgence.

        This policy of intellectual property as some kind of export generally depends upon us maintaining a military which is onerously expensive. This is n

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by plasmacutter (901737)

          The politicians have deliberately forsaken our manufacturing base.

          This does not, however, mean we should be enforcing some perverse imaginary property in an attempt to maintain economic dominance.

          What we should be doing is abandoning the policies which are killing our manufacturing sector (subsidies, protectionism, bailouts, FTA's) and encouraging a resurgence.

          This policy of intellectual property as some kind of export generally depends upon us maintaining a military which is onerously expensive. This is not something which can be perpetually maintained.

          sorry, "i don't agree" does not equate to flamebait. I have karma to burn so i'll requote it, this time with the bonus active.

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            And I'll tag along just to make mod points expensive. I don't agree with all of what you said (which is common between us), but I agree with your right to say it.

            Plasmacutter wrote, [slashdot.org]

            The politicians have deliberately forsaken our manufacturing base.

            This does not, however, mean we should be enforcing some perverse imaginary property in an attempt to maintain economic dominance.

            What we should be doing is abandoning the policies which are killing our manufacturing sector (subsidies, protectionism, bailouts, FT

        • How does protectionism hurt our manufacturing sector? Isn't it generally used to reduce foreign competition to things we make here?

          I'm against it too, but have never heard that particular claim before. Much the opposite.

  • ....hardon and breast size....

    as the only thing that will be allowed is spam.

  • "...cracking down on counterfeiting of such goods as watches and pharmaceuticals..."

    Does that mean I will stop receiving spam messages for an awesome replica Rolex that will make my penis larger? I mean, it came from a guy called Norman Ledbetter. It just has to be legit.

  • This isn't about copyright anymore this is about our basic privacy and freedom being taken away if we will have our laptops and ipods searched at border crossing or seized. What about if its your corporate with sensitive files that are NDA. But no the bush administration doesn't care about the ramifications of their actions.

    And yah...what about the american people. I love how they say "it's not all about you google" when google is standing up for us!

  • by slashqwerty (1099091) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @07:57PM (#25129407)

    The companies said the US courts and Congress are still working out the correct balance between protecting copyrights and the free exchange of information on the Web

    The correct balance would cut copyrights back to 14 years, require disclosure of source code to receive copyright on software, ban business method patents, and ban the use of technologies that prevent a work from entering the public domain. The government is going the opposite direction it should if it's interesting in establishing a proper balance.

  • by Tiger4 (840741) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @08:24PM (#25129667)

    My suggestion: One Copyright of 25 years, with two renewals of 25 years each. Then its OVER.

    Really, the I would only let Natural Persons have renewal rights. Corporations would just have to live with expirations as a price of doing business. Just like replacing old equipment after a few years, you write it off like a depreciation.

    • Why do we have these ideas that corporations must be treated in some discriminatory fashion? The economic advantages (you can argue about these if you want) that accrue as the result of copyright law apply to corporations just as much as to individuals. By not treating corps the same as individuals you reduce the economic value here.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by McGiraf (196030)

        "Why do we have these ideas that corporations must be treated in some discriminatory fashion?"

        Corporations can not be put in prison.
        Corporations can not die.

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          Corporations also can't break the law. The people working for them do and they do goto prison quite often.

          These people are also guaranteed to die at some point to but that's neither here nor there, copyrights and patents don't extend for the life of the corporation, that is translated into a nominal amount of years.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Corporations have no morality, don't need to eat and can accrue much more power than a person.

        Why do we need to treat street gangs in such a discriminatory manner?

    • by wisty (1335733)
      Or how about 25 years, flat? If you do the net-present-value calculations on the money that is likely to be received from a work, it's going to be basically zero after 25 years. All long copyright terms do is prevent our culture from properly assimilating works that should be on the public domain - artists cannot quote or adapt any work made since Mickey Mouse, without getting a license or risking a lawsuit. Mozart copied his predecessors, often to an outrageous extent. Great authors used to quote other aut
    • My counter (Score:5, Interesting)

      by symbolset (646467) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @10:13PM (#25130383) Journal

      My suggestion: One Copyright of 25 years, with two renewals of 25 years each. Then its OVER.

      And my counter offer would be 10 years, once and no more.

      As an alternative: first year is free, second year is $100. Doubling every year thereafter.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by houghi (78078)

        Thanks for making it unpossible for the common man to have a copyright and only let (big) companies get away with it. They also will love to have the excuse of tax-reduction AND can now more easily convince the law to go after grandma humming a song, because after all: they payed for it.

  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3NO@SPAMjustconnected.net> on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:58PM (#25130277)

    That's what I see here, and that's what's so dangerous about treaties (it's why we never ratified the Treaty of Versailles):

    Treaties are given equal status with the Constitution. Which makes this line:

    the US courts and Congress are still working out the correct balance between protecting copyrights and the free exchange of information on the Web and a treaty could be counterproductive.

    very interesting.
    If a treaty spelled this all out, it'd be like passing an amendment and not even the Supreme Court could do anything.

    This is why treaties are usually an uncomfortable topic. Passing a bad treaty is a big fuckup similar to a bad amendment.

  • ..is that companies like Disney are inherently unstable. The same thing can be said of entities like record labels and movie companies.

    If you are a company whose main (or even only) assets are so-called "intellectual property", then you are basically a time bomb, and copyright is the only thing that maintains profitability. Once Mickey becomes public domain, Disney is screwed, and they know it, since other characters will soon follow. Sure, Disney has other stuff, but will it be enough? (Disney products c
  • Google is pushing for Less Evil again.

    After the China censorship thing, and a couple of other more recent escapades, I was beginning to wonder.
  • Took long enough ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:43AM (#25132949) Homepage Journal
    im wondering why did such companies like google, yahoo et al didnt readily form into such groups with the advocacy organizations BEFORE crap like acta, copyright cops come up. wasnt it a foreseeable fact that defending important facets of the new information revolution would be a necessity sooner or later ?

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