Effect Measure

The copyright mafia makes me scream (again)

If I screamed every time I wanted to scream after reading something on the internet, I’d be so hoarse I wouldn’t be able to scream about something I hadn’t read on the internet. Like the Obama administration’s loser mentality or the Republican Party as just plain losers with no mentality at all. So maybe I won’t scream about what I read about on The Guardian today (hat tip Boingboing), but I’d like to scream. LIKE THIS. But why should you listen to me? I’m an Enemy of the State. I know this because the US-based International Intellectual Property Alliance has made it clear what kind of person or entity is An Enemy of the State: someone who advocates for Open Source Software (and presumably Open Access publishing; I am editor of an open access peer reviewed scientific journal).

If this sounds weird (and if it doesn’t, you must be weird), here’s what it’s based on:

It turns out that the International Intellectual Property Alliance, an umbrella group for organisations including the MPAA and RIAA, has requested with the US Trade Representative [USTR] to consider countries like Indonesia, Brazil and India for its “Special 301 watchlist” because they use open source software.

What’s Special 301? It’s a report that examines the “adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property rights” around the planet – effectively the list of countries that the US government considers enemies of capitalism. It often gets wheeled out as a form of trading pressure – often around pharmaceuticals and counterfeited goods – to try and force governments to change their behaviours. (Bobbie Johnson, The Guardian Technology Blog)

One of the countries at issue is Indonesia. Now Indonesia is not my idea of a well-run, squeaky-clean government whose ideas on the freedom and intellectual property are enlightened. Benighted might be a better word. We have spent far too many posts complaining about their failure to tell the world the truth about avian flu in their country and worse, to share with the world scientific community the viral isolates they are obligated to share, all in the name of their “intellectual property rights” to pathogenic viruses obtained from their citizens (a few of many posts here, here, here, here, here). So Indonesia is no Pearl of Great Value in my book. But the idea that sending a circular to government departments and businesses recommending they use free open source software makes them a pariah nation is beyond the pale of commonsense. The reasoning? I’ll let the IIPA tell you (quoted in The Guardian link above):

“The Indonesian government’s policy… simply weakens the software industry and undermines its long-term competitiveness by creating an artificial preference for companies offering open source software and related services, even as it denies many legitimate companies access to the government market.

Rather than fostering a system that will allow users to benefit from the best solution available in the market, irrespective of the development model, it encourages a mindset that does not give due consideration to the value to intellectual creations.

As such, it fails to build respect for intellectual property rights and also limits the ability of government or public-sector customers (e.g., State-owned enterprise) to choose the best solutions.”

I don’t know about you, but for most of us “the best solution available in the market” is the one that costs the least and does what I want it to. If it’s free, even better. Can we say “Google”?

Or can we just scream: AAARRRGGH! Oh, oh. I said I wouldn’t do that. At least ALL CAPS isn’t so hard on my vocal cords.

Comments

  1. #1 Phillip IV
    February 25, 2010

    By the same reasoning, they’ll soon label the Red Cross a terrorist organization because their free disaster relief does not “build respect” for the commercial value of services.

  2. #2 Toronto
    February 25, 2010

    That whole statement smacks of doublespeak… If you support capitalism, you’ll pay more the service. Insane.

  3. #3 LeeH
    February 25, 2010

    The United States will have to go on that list as well, since open source software (Apache, Linux, MySQL, etc.) is endemic in that country. In fact, even the White House website was recently relaunched on an open source platform (Drupal). The National Defence Authorization Act for FY 2009 specifically calls for the use of open source.

  4. #4 Eric Lund
    February 25, 2010

    I don’t know about you, but for most of us “the best solution available in the market” is the one that costs the least and does what I want it to.

    True enough, but for people who are selling such solutions “the best solution available in the market” is “the solution my company will sell you”. So much the better if they can force lock-in.

    Of course, if you’re the government of a country which does not contain the headquarters of the company trying to sell you a proprietary system, and a nonproprietary solution is available, that alone should be sufficient for you to determine that the proprietary product is not “the best solution available in the market”. How do you know that the host government won’t use the proprietary product for espionage?

    And as the IIPA don’t want you to remember, open-source software is subject to the same copyright laws as proprietary software. You acquire the right to use the software under certain terms and conditions. It’s true that for OSS the terms do not include payment of a licensing fee, but the terms do exist.

  5. #5 engstudent
    February 25, 2010

    Revere : your Twitter account has been comprosised has been DMing me phishing sites.
    Hope this helps. Try changing your password goodluck.

  6. #6 revere
    February 25, 2010

    engstudent: Yes, I know my Twitter acct was hacked. I changed the password and got hacked again. In disgust, I just deleted our Twitter account entirely and we are off Twitter altogether. Sorry for any annoyances.

  7. #7 pft
    February 26, 2010

    The person who first coined the term enemy of the people (state) was Stalin, at least according to Khrushchev in his speech after Stalins death.

    Free trade is wonderful so long as it is not free or convenient (to the consumers and smaller states).

    I can’t play DVD’s I buy in the USA on Asian DVD players (unless you have them remove the chip that blocks it), and I can’t run some software on more than 1 or 2 computers even though in the useful life of the software I may have 6 computers, usually three at a time. I can’t download music or video from my itunes account in the USA when in Asia where I live most of the time, even though that property is not available in Asia. You can’t import drugs from abroad that are about 1/2 the price outside the US (thats to keep us safe, wink).

    My other pet peeve is that if I buy intellectual property (music, movies, tv shows) in a format that gets replaced by a new format due to technology, you must pay for the same intellectual property (full price, even more) for the new format, and their is no way to get a discount like with software (in the form of an upgrade price).

    I must have bought some IP 4-5 times over my lifetime, some due to the PAL vs NTSC battle, or region 1, 3 and 6 nonsense, plus the VHS to LD to DVD (I am resisting HD for awhile), etc.

    Essentially, these practices are possible only under monoply capitalism, which is essentially what Communism was (it’s still around, it’s just evolved and dumped the private ownership restriction when the party elite realized was not to their personal benefit).

    Free trade is simply trade on our global monopoly capitalists terms, and their security force is the USM, with debt collection and credit handled by the IMF. Don’t go along and your currency gets attacked, or you get invaded (esp if you have resources).

  8. #8 revere
    February 26, 2010

    pft: It was not Stalin. It was Ibsen.

  9. #9 BrianX
    February 26, 2010

    The thing is how very, very transparent it is. If they really believed in a free market, the BSA companies driving this would swallow their pride and put out source to make the sale. This is just typical refusal to adapt.

  10. #10 redrabbitslife
    February 27, 2010

    @ pft: to play out-of-zone DVDs on a laptop, try VLC Media Player. It’s open source.

    Open source makes sense to me: what’s nice about it is that eventually, the ones that have the fewest glitches and the best user interfaces will prevail because nobody is locked in. It keeps everyone on their toes.

    For example, firefox. Love firefox.

  11. #11 realinterrobang
    March 1, 2010

    It’s really quite simple to translate this. Everywhere they talk about “the market,” read “transnational corporations.” So the best solution “from the market” is naturally the best solution available “from transnational corporations.” It’s not like any of those umbrella organisations actually gives a damn about the intellectual property of, say, individual creators, as opposed to giant copyright-holding corporate monopolies.

    Youuuuuu’ve been hangin’ round…
    With an enemy of the state…
    Come with me… To the building…
    Where no one…ever stops to watch…

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