from the it-never-ends dept
ACTA and SOPA may have flopped, but minor setbacks like that won’t stop the onslaught of abuses from the entertainment and pharmaceutical industries looking to use the international treaty process to try to pressure everyone to keep ratcheting up protectionist laws concerning copyright, patents and trademarks. Obviously, we’ve been talking about the still worrisome TPP agreement involving a bunch of Pacific Rim countries, but it’s not stopping there. Back in October, we warned that the US and EU were preparing a new trade agreement as well, and the preliminary plans noted that it would include a “high level of intellectual property protection, including enforcement.”
More details are starting to come out as the main EU negotiator for ACTA, Karel de Gucht, came to DC to see about getting things kicked off, on an agreement that’s being called TAFTA — the Trans Atlantic “Free Trade” Agreement. Of course, instead of recognizing the lessons from previous failed efforts to push for broken maximalist policies, it appears that the plan is to try, try again. Some are already saying that this is “the opportunity to try to set the gold standard” in copyright, patent and trademark protection. The goal, as with ACTA and TPP is to ratchet up the laws, and then put tons of pressure on China and India to “respect” those laws. To put it mildly: this is stupid. Both of those countries recognize how protectionism works. We’ve already seen that China is becoming exceptionally good at using patent laws to basically punish foreign companies, while helping domestic Chinese companies. It seems downright idiotic to provide them with even more tools to do so.
Of course, the real questions are why do we keep letting our governments negotiate these kinds of deals, and why do we let them do so in secret?