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Intellectual Property Right and Free Trade: Second Question to Ethan Zuckerman

julho 9, 2012

Second Question: Coming to the point of international/global public policies related to the Internet, we can see that there have been a series of negotiations to implement or strengthen laws concerning enforcement of IPR. Those laws allow countries to promote the enforcement of IPR by means of trade sanctions.
-Firstly, in general, how can those international/global polices can affect the use of Internet and why this matters?
-Secondly, talking specifically about the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA), how can ACTA affect the use of the Internet, and why this matters?

EZ: So the challenge with the Internet it is that, suddenly, this notion of locality in law breaks down. And, so , when a particularly country, just to say Ukraine, takes a very lax approach to enforce Intellectual Property, it doesn’t just affect Ukraine as it might with say manufacture of drugs, manufacture of trade market goods. It affects the rest of the world and it affects immediately. So, you know, you had running out of Russia for a while, allofMP3.com which basically allowed you for some nominal fee, I think it was 99 cents, access to billions of MP3s. And it was some an insane situation because Russian authorities wouldn’t crack down on it. And it obviously had very serious implications for IP industries in the US. So what you do at the point? You negotiate between governments and you try to say, look we have laws against infringing copyright, please shut this down. You could also say, we are going after you in trade sanctions, we think you’re deliberately trying to harm our industry, this is unacceptable, we are going to sanction you for this. You know, it is interesting if you start to look at the WTO, for instance, the US gets sanction, you know, more often than anyone else, it is actually, in some ways, a mechanism where you can consider look at, and say this is maybe actually a playing field level mechanism if the US is getting their share of criticism, maybe this is actually a good thing. But the last thing you can do it is you can basically say, we are going try to cut you off from the Internet. This is a step no one wants to see happen, you don’t want to see the US filtering the Russia Internet because there are sites in Russia not respecting copyrights.

EZ:What various different bills like SOPA and PIPA in the US and to a extent ACTA have been talking about doing it is offering technical means to try to solve this problem. This problem being someone is allowing access to a lot of content and other countries don’t like it. So really, SOPA and PIPA, in many ways, that’s the Pirate Bay law. The US couldn’t figure out how to pressure Sweden. They couldn’t figure out how to get trade sanctions against Sweden, or once that they thought would be meaningful. So at certain point they said can we simply just sort of make those sites inaccessible in the US Internet. The US, the Net community in the US look at this said, you know, that is like trying to get rid of ants by putting the house on fire, it’s a very dangerous escalation. Even if your intentions might be good, there are so many different ways that can go wrong. It is a license to censor, it is a license to take down content. One thing that we know from past history, it is that censorship usually doesn’t start as a political censorship, it is starts as censorship of pornography or alcohol in Muslim countries and things like that, but it then slides towards political censorship. And, so setting up a complex censorship system what was SOPA/PIPA were going to do makes people rightly very very nervous. And so that it was I think we saw push back in those two bills and later on ACTA was sort of saying we’d really rather fighting this out either through inter-governmental negotiations or through trade sanctions rather than through trying to break the architecture of the Internet. If you go after the architecture of the Internet and say we are going to make certain of these sites disappear, the consequences of that are bound to be pretty bad. And so for me I would actually turn things around in sort of say, maybe trade sanctions aren’t the worst way of doing, trade sanctions are a language the nations understand, they hurt national industries and that maybe a chance for these industries to sort of pressure the others and say hey come on, you’re really hurting all of us here. So maybe at that point, you know, if there is a trade sanction against Sweden, you know, Volvo goes calls up Pirate Bay and say,come on, really , you really want crash, you know, your really want IKEA not long do be able to do business in the United States and you’re keep pirating their going for that. That seems to me in some ways to be a much more preferable and believable solution than trying to fix it by fixing their architecture. By trying go figure out all the difference things you have to censor or block in the Internet to try to protect all the different Intellectual Property people want to try to protect.

TB:If I got this right, so, the SOPA/PIPA, and, I don’t know if ACTA was like, the starting point was the Pirate Bay?

EZ:It didn’t reference explicitly, but if you read the legislation it is pretty clear. So, I am not researching ACTA as closely as SOPA/PIPA, so I apologize, but I’m not answering that question as directly. But on SOPA/PIPA there were basically provisions that allowed with very little legal review authorities in the US to say you are not going to be able view this website because this website is substantially infringing. That was clearly set up for sites like Pirate Bay that basically seems to exist to promote torrents. You know, like all good copy photos out there, patting knowledge, there are lots of not infringing ways to use torrents and it is fine to have a search engine torrent. But I don’t think you can call sites like the Pirate Bay answering they have have been involved with the work they have been involved without knowing what is going on. The other thing they want what I call the ‘Locker’ site, so that Megaupload and sites like that where people, for instance, digitize an episode of television and put it up and then share the URL for people to download. And I think you can make the case again, that is lot of not infringing system in those sites, but there are lots of infringing system in those sites. The question that came up with SOPA/PIPA it was how you handle those sites. You know, Megaupload was in Australia and turned up that US got cooperation from the Australian police to go and arrest Kim.com. For me that is the best way to solve these problems, if someone is engaged in a criminal enterprise charge them as criminal, but breaking the Internet to try to make the rest of this works seems like very unwise step forward.

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