Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Favoring Big Business

If there is a clearer example that "capitalism" is not the same as "free markets," it would be copyright law. And here are a couple of examples:

Ars Technica reports on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty. Although the terms of the treaty are apparently so bad that the drafts have been kept secret, it is apparent that it will provide even greater protection to tech companies:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty pushed by the Obama administration could complicate efforts to loosen restrictions on jailbreaking and unlocking smartphones, tablets, or other consumer electronics.

A working draft of the treaty published by WikiLeaks prohibits the manufacturing or distribution of devices or services "for the purpose of circumvention of any effective technological measure." It goes on to prohibit devices and services that "have only a limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent any effective technological measure, or are primarily designed, produced, or performed for the purpose of the circumvention of any effective technological measure."

Derek Khanna, a Yale Law Fellow who submitted a White House petition that led to the Obama administration publicly supporting the end of a ban on unlocking, wrote in Slate that "while the White House was publicly proclaiming its support of cellphone unlocking, it was secretly negotiating a treaty that would ban it."
 "Jailbreaking" refers to being able to purchase and operate apps other than those approved and/or sold by the manufacturer. It is currently legal for smartphones, but not tablets. "Unlocking" simply refers to being able to use a cell phone on a different network, such as if your cell contract was up and you wanted to change providers.

This article at Tech Dirt explains how companies (in this case, Warner Bros.) can get away with issuing fake take down requests for posted material that doesn't violate copyrights.

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