Antigua calls for pirates to return to Caribbean
If US ignores our laws can we ignore theirs?
House of Cards Antigua and Barbuda - a nation of 70,000 in an area roughly half the size of San Francisco - has formally requested that the WTO allow it to suspend its intellectual property obligations to the United States, AP reports.
Although many in the US have mocked tiny Antigua'a case against the US with a shrug of the shoulders, the Antiguans have always carried in their pockets a nuclear option of sorts. Most Americans view trade disputes through the prism of tit-for-tat protectionist schemes. A perceived price subsidy leads to retaliatory tariffs, etc; but the obligations imposed by WTO obligations run deeper than that.
Repeated violation of WTO commitments in the face of contrary WTO rulings allows a victimized member country ultimately to suspend its own WTO obligations to the offending nation - a form of restitution much more punitive than tariffs alone. America runs a steady and hefty trade deficit in virtually every category of international trade other than intellectual property.
Were the WTO - with possible European, Japanese, and Chinese support - to allow the Antiguans to suspend all intellectual property obligations to the United States, the American IP industry could face a tiny adversary with an unlimited right to reproduce for its own benefit American IP goods of any kind.
This is no joke - America has done everything it can to stamp out the internet gambling industry, particularly that of Antigua in the three years since Antigua first challenged the US before the international body the US itself worked so hard to create. Antigua originally hoped to develop its ecommerce segment to reduce its dependence on tourism, but, as a result of American interference, in the last few years the Antiguan internet gaming industry has shrunk by about 85 per cent.
And little Antigua is not the only country feeling the pinch. The UK, which has possibly the most well-regulated gambling market in the world - at the very least among the major economies - has sat back and watched as the DOJ has repeatedly arrested UK businessmen and executives.
The idea that other countries will put up with this abuse indefinitely may finally have run its course. Once one country chooses to revise its definitions of its own commitments, as the US claims it will do, other impacted countries may do the same. The only question now is whether the major American trading partners - Europe, Japan, and China - join the party.
Unlimited DRM-free copies of American music, movies, and Microsoft software?
Bring it on. It's about time. ®
Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office
Pharma and IP
Just one more post on the whole IP diversion. Various people have been defending pharmaceutical companies because IP means that they will fund research into new drugs. The problem is that noone seems to question why the only new drugs they are developing are to treat such life-threatening conditions such as erectile dysfunction, and obesity. The current generation of anti-malarial drugs are nearing the end of their effective life span as new drug resistant strains emerge.
If IP was 'working', then surely drug companies would have the 'incentive' that they need to research new ways of treating diseases like this, that kill literally millions of people every year.
This does not even touch on the sizeable amount of government and charity funded research that eventually ends up profiting these companies who end up with a monopolistic patent.
There is always more to the story than a first glance reveals...
Do you listen to what you're saying?
I love the idea of legally pirating American IP (particularly TV and film) but all of this talk of how great a world would be without IP and how Britain should scrap it is just silly.
Who would develop new medicines? spend millions developing software? fund films? or indeed spend money researching or making anything? The fairies?
American companies, like everyone else currently charge too much for their IP, £20 for a DVD is a rip off and films on itunes aren't much better but the solution isn't to abolish IP protection completely.
Yes it would be great if we could all have all of the IP we want for nothing, but who is going to pay for it? Have the little leprechauns given you guys a pot of gold that you haven’t told the rest of us about?
The problem with the notion of intellectual property is that while it may naturally exist it is not in that natural sense sufficient for those who wish to profit from it. If you wish to keep an idea to yourself as your sole possession, it is quite easy to do. Don't write it down, don't speak of it, don't use it in any sense which publicises it. If you wish to make money from it, and must thereby reveal it, then that is the natural way of things.
In fact, I do have some sympathy with the idea of a limited monopoly on any genuine innovation. I think it does encourage progress and the spread of knowledge and it seems right to reward those who contribute to the improvement of humanity. The key words are 'genuine' and 'limited'. Too many patents seem to be trivial or frivoulous or obvious rather than really creative. And the granting of a patent is not a fundamental right. It is an incentive the state provides in order that progress is encouraged. Where the general good requires it, patents should not be granted. Note the word: 'granted', i.e. given.
Copyright, too seems a reasonable measure to reward artistic endeavour. One difficulty with copyright is the stretching of the term 'limited' to the point where the actual creators of a work must be long dead. How then does the continuation of the copyright encourage them to create new works? Another is the assignment of copyright to corporate bodies rather than people. Though this must be allowable I suppose, it should not lead to the extension of copyright periods towards the lifetime of a corporation. But the worst is allowing copyright application to a technical work instead of an artistic one.