More on intellectual property agreements

All of the two or three people that read this know that issues around intellectual property (patents, trade agreements and legal battles) are one of my chief concerns (OK, obsessions, I admit – but with good reason).

The editors at BoingBoing share this concern, and they have been regularly posting about it, as I have commented previously.

Here I want to call attention to a few of the more recents posts there about this problem.

First, World Intellectual Property Organization in shambolic chaos. As the title indicates, the UN organization charged with negotiating and supervising international agreements on IP became stuck in a deadlock with no end in sight. The post is very precise in defining the impasse and its reasons, summarized in one paragraph: "Most of the substantive work of WIPO has been moved to illegitimate, opaque, closed door trade agreements, like ACTA and TPP, leaving the UN agency as a kind of lame duck where the global south tries to get the rich countries to agree to basic fairness, like reasonable treatment of genetic data and the right of people with disabilities to convert copyrighted works to formats that they can use".

An example of how national and international laws on this subject can be (and are) easily abused was portrayed in another post, also with a very revealing title: How Microsoft hacked trademark law to let it secretly seize whole businesses. Microsoft, as other software companies, have long (ab)used the copyright and patent laws as a club in their business operations, getting involved in arguable practices to squash the competition. It is very technical, but in a nutshell, it is exmplained as follows: "The company expanded the "ex parte temporary restraining order’ so it could stage one-sided, sealed proceedings to take away rival businesses’ domains, sometimes knocking thousands of legit servers offline".

Schadenfreude or not, sometimes the spell turns against the one who cast it, such as in this case: "NZ’s National Party sued by Eminem for copyright infringement". In summary, "The National Party was instrumental in passing the harsh ‘strict liability’ NZ copyright laws that offer no relief from liability, even for people who buy licenses that turn out to have been offered in error


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