Free Trade vs. the Copyright Lobby

by on May 30, 2007 · 30 comments

In recent years there has been a trend toward the use of trade agreements as a means of bullying smaller nations into adopting copyright and patent policies favored by domestic special interest groups in the United States. Over at the EFF blog, Gwen Hinze has the goods:

In exchange for the promise of increased access to U.S. agricultural and textile markets, , U.S. trading partners are being required to rewrite their IP laws. For instance, the last nine U.S. free trade agreements signed since 2002 have required trading partners to adopt the U.S./ EU copyright term of life of the creator plus 70 years, create laws banning the circumvention of DRM (or technological protection measures) modeled very precisely on the controversial DMCA, and to treat temporary reproductions of copyrighted works (such as in computer memory) as copyright infringement. The FTAs also require trading partners to broaden their patent laws. The Central American Free Trade Agreement also required extended protection of test data, seemingly directed at precluding registration of generic pharmaceuticals.

I agree with James Surowiecki that there’s a symmetry between the “intellectual property standards” in these recent trade agreements and the “labor and environmental standards” that left-wing groups have long demanded be appended to trade deals. Free traders have always argued, correctly, that labor and environmental laws have nothing to do with trade, and that decisions about such laws should be decided by the ordinary political process in each country, not by international pressure.

Precisely the same argument applies to copyright and patent issues. I think there are good policy arguments to oppose longer copyright terms and anti-circumvention rules on their merits. But even if you think those are good policy, they certainly don’t belong in trade negotiations. Trade negotiations should be focusing on trade barriers. Failing to protect the copyright on Mickey Mouse until 2019, or permitting the sale of DVD players that will fast forward through commercials, is not a trade barrier.

We free traders should be just as outraged about these demands as we would be if a Democratic administration demanded changes to other countries’ labor or environmental laws in exchange for a trade agreement. The president and the USTR have only so much political capital in these negotiations. Had they not included the copyright and patent provisions among their demands, they most likely would have been able to obtain larger reductions in genuine trade barriers.

  • http://www.pff.org Noel

    Tim, I must say this is an odd post.

    But even if you think those [patent and copyright policies] are good policy, they certainly don’t belong in trade negotiations. Trade negotiations should be focusing on trade barriers.

    What? Trade barriers are only one aspect of terms of trade, and intellectual property has been on the agenda for trade agreements since Bretton Woods.

    We free traders should be just as outraged about these demands as we would be if a Democratic administration demanded changes to other countries’ labor or environmental laws in exchange for a trade agreement.

    I’m not sure who you consider a free traders, but I suspect your definition will change as you change your argument… “free traders” is, in other words, a meaningless term here.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Intellectual property has been on the agenda for trade agreements since Bretton Woods.

    Noel, this may be true, but it’s question-begging. The issue isn’t whether they have been on the agenda, but whether they ought to be. There might be some aspects of copyright law that are relevant to trade, but lengthening copyright terms to the life of the author plus 70 years isn’t among them.

    Free traders are people who support lower trade barriers. A tariff or quota is a trade barrier. A legal regime that allows you to convert your legally purchased iTunes songs into MP3 format is not a trade barrier. Hence, a “free trader” is someone who’s concerned with the former, but not necessarily the latter.

  • Doug Lay

    >>intellectual property has been on the agenda for trade agreements since Bretton Woods.

    The Bretton Woods agreements are here:

    http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/decade/decad047.htm

    Search for “intellectual property” or “copyright” or “patent” and see what comes up. Nada. Perhaps that stuff was in the “double-secret” part of the agreements.

  • http://www.pff.org Noel

    Tim, I must say this is an odd post.

    But even if you think those [patent and copyright policies] are good policy, they certainly don’t belong in trade negotiations. Trade negotiations should be focusing on trade barriers.

    What? Trade barriers are only one aspect of terms of trade, and intellectual property has been on the agenda for trade agreements since Bretton Woods.

    We free traders should be just as outraged about these demands as we would be if a Democratic administration demanded changes to other countries’ labor or environmental laws in exchange for a trade agreement.

    I’m not sure who you consider a free traders, but I suspect your definition will change as you change your argument… “free traders” is, in other words, a meaningless term here.

  • http://www.pff.org Noel

    Thanks Doug, great link. Now can you look up the ensuing trade rounds, rather than the Bretton Woods charter.

    Tim, you’re basically saying that “free traders” are primarily interested in a narrow aspect of trade. Thats hardly flattering, it suggest that “free traders” either have narrow interests or don’t understand the full-extent of trade negotiations.

    Still, very clever setting up and definiing the term “free traders” so you could leverage the term “free” to criticize IPRs.

  • http://lippard.blogspot.com/ Jim Lippard
  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Intellectual property has been on the agenda for trade agreements since Bretton Woods.

    Noel, this may be true, but it’s question-begging. The issue isn’t whether they have been on the agenda, but whether they ought to be. There might be some aspects of copyright law that are relevant to trade, but lengthening copyright terms to the life of the author plus 70 years isn’t among them.

    Free traders are people who support lower trade barriers. A tariff or quota is a trade barrier. A legal regime that allows you to convert your legally purchased iTunes songs into MP3 format is not a trade barrier. Hence, a “free trader” is someone who’s concerned with the former, but not necessarily the latter.

  • http://linuxworld.com/community/ Don Marti

    But what about the family farms?

    If countries that are net importers of copyrighted goods from the USA have to subsidize our copyright holders with term extensions, then countries that are net importers of food from the USA should be paying subsidies to American family farmers. Fair is fair.

  • Doug Lay

    >>intellectual property has been on the agenda for trade agreements since Bretton Woods.

    The Bretton Woods agreements are here:

    http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/decade/decad0

    Search for “intellectual property” or “copyright” or “patent” and see what comes up. Nada. Perhaps that stuff was in the “double-secret” part of the agreements.

  • http://www.pff.org Noel

    Thanks Doug, great link. Now can you look up the ensuing trade rounds, rather than the Bretton Woods charter.

    Tim, you’re basically saying that “free traders” are primarily interested in a narrow aspect of trade. Thats hardly flattering, it suggest that “free traders” either have narrow interests or don’t understand the full-extent of trade negotiations.

    Still, very clever setting up and definiing the term “free traders” so you could leverage the term “free” to criticize IPRs.

  • http://lippard.blogspot.com/ Jim Lippard
  • http://linuxworld.com/community/ Don Marti

    But what about the family farms?

    If countries that are net importers of copyrighted goods from the USA have to subsidize our copyright holders with term extensions, then countries that are net importers of food from the USA should be paying subsidies to American family farmers. Fair is fair.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    I disagree entirely with the argument that local laws are not legitimate parts of a trade agreement’s negotiations. China has been exporting tainted food to the US right and left lately. They also have a nearly non-existent enforcement policy with our copyrights. It is perfectly reasonable for us to demand quality control on their part with any food they ship here, and for them to respect our copyrights.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    I disagree entirely with the argument that local laws are not legitimate parts of a trade agreement’s negotiations. China has been exporting tainted food to the US right and left lately. They also have a nearly non-existent enforcement policy with our copyrights. It is perfectly reasonable for us to demand quality control on their part with any food they ship here, and for them to respect our copyrights.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Mike, I agree with you about the food part, but that’s because some of their food ends up on our dinner table. But I don’t see any connection between China’s domestic copyright laws and trade.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Mike, I agree with you about the food part, but that’s because some of their food ends up on our dinner table. But I don’t see any connection between China’s domestic copyright laws and trade.

  • Doug Lay

    Noel:

    The first major “IP”-related agreement to appear after Bretton Woods was the Rome Convention, in 1961. That’s a difference of 17 years. You would have more credibility if you were more careful with your statements, instead of making overgeneralizations that happen to suit your agenda.

    Mike T:

    Exporting tainted food is definitely not an issue of domestic law only. If China wants to trade with us, they should not export poisonous food, and they should not export pirated DVDs, etc. Whather the US should pressure them to adopt an American-style system of food inspection domestically (FDA, USDA, etc.) is a different question, and a more difficult one. There are arguments in both directions. Same thing with pressuring China to adopt tighter “IP” controls in their own domestic markets.

  • http://www.pff.org Noel

    Thanks Doug for debunking Tim’s implicit argument that IPRs are somehow a new thing in trade negotiations. Still, that argument is better than his construction that “free traders” are only concerned with trade “barriers.”

  • http://www.pff.org Noel

    …and Tim, can you explain how lax IPR policies do not constitute “trade barriers,” in terms of deterring foreign investment.

  • Doug Lay

    Noel:

    The first major “IP”-related agreement to appear after Bretton Woods was the Rome Convention, in 1961. That’s a difference of 17 years. You would have more credibility if you were more careful with your statements, instead of making overgeneralizations that happen to suit your agenda.

    Mike T:

    Exporting tainted food is definitely not an issue of domestic law only. If China wants to trade with us, they should not export poisonous food, and they should not export pirated DVDs, etc. Whather the US should pressure them to adopt an American-style system of food inspection domestically (FDA, USDA, etc.) is a different question, and a more difficult one. There are arguments in both directions. Same thing with pressuring China to adopt tighter “IP” controls in their own domestic markets.

  • http://www.pff.org Noel

    Thanks Doug for debunking Tim’s implicit argument that IPRs are somehow a new thing in trade negotiations. Still, that argument is better than his construction that “free traders” are only concerned with trade “barriers.”

  • http://www.pff.org Noel

    …and Tim, can you explain how lax IPR policies do not constitute “trade barriers,” in terms of deterring foreign investment.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    The issue with their domestic copyright laws is that if they allow ordinary citizens to pirate content to their hearts’ content, they won’t have any reason to buy our goods. IP is very important to our economy. If we don’t make China set up a system that punishes people for bootlegging it for “personal use” then there is no incentive for the Chinese to buy it. There is also the problem that without a comprehensive respect for copyrights, FOSS will be badly undermined in China. People who have all but zero respect for our copyrights won’t tend to have much of a problem “close sourcing” Linux and selling it. Red Flag has already tried that to some extent and succeeded, from what I remember of their early efforts.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    It is also an issue if they allow bootlegs to be sold locally. If the Chinese government allows domestic vendors to sell knock offs of American products locally, that very much constitutes a barrier to trade.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    The issue with their domestic copyright laws is that if they allow ordinary citizens to pirate content to their hearts’ content, they won’t have any reason to buy our goods. IP is very important to our economy. If we don’t make China set up a system that punishes people for bootlegging it for “personal use” then there is no incentive for the Chinese to buy it. There is also the problem that without a comprehensive respect for copyrights, FOSS will be badly undermined in China. People who have all but zero respect for our copyrights won’t tend to have much of a problem “close sourcing” Linux and selling it. Red Flag has already tried that to some extent and succeeded, from what I remember of their early efforts.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    It is also an issue if they allow bootlegs to be sold locally. If the Chinese government allows domestic vendors to sell knock offs of American products locally, that very much constitutes a barrier to trade.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    Tim this is actually a good post about something that is very wrong, the exporting of restrictions from USa to the rest of world. I’d actually had a blog about this, extracts which I shall post below.

    (I would just post the link, but everytime I post with a link it goes into moderation limbo..)

    Exporting Restrictions, Importing Poverty
    May 27th, 2007 — enigmafoundry | Edit

    Some new developments that reinforce an observation I’d made that the emerging world-wide IP landscape will become one that is divided into two differing regimes. One, centered on the USA, is built on strong restrictions on the free transfer of certain types of information. The two cornerstones of this restricted space are the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and overbroad patent protections. While software patents, a particularly pernicious form of overbroad patent protections, have gotten much attention, the real backbone of this restricted space is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which codifies criminal prosecution for the transfer of certain types of information, even to the extent that many types of speech, formerly thought by many to be protected by the First Amendment, have been criminalized.

    The other economic space will be marked by freedom of information transfer, and it will develop into the place that innovative software development, digital content creation and design will occur. Historically, the first two of these fields had been dominated by America, and America still has many advantages over other regions in these fields, but is risking those advantages by adhering to such restrictive measures as the DMCA. This is a minority opinion, at present.

    I noticed a while back that those pushing for these restrictions were not content to let other types of IP regimes co-exist in other parts of the world, but seemed compelled to constantly push for an expansion of their restrictive laws into all regions that actively participate in the global economy. The reason is quite simple: all other things being equal, an economic space freed from the restrictions of the DMCA and overbroad patent protections, will out-compete the non-free zone. Of course, all things are never in fact equal, but the essential truth that the restricted economic space would be at a critical economic disadvantage to the free space is why those advocating DMCA-like restrictions have constantly sought to export these restrictions to other countries. Once the economic dis-advantages of these restrictions was clear, the advocates of freedom would be able to make a compelling case to abolish restrictive laws like the DMCA.

    It is therefore no accident that in every so-called ‘free trade’ agreement negotiated by USA, the signatory country is obligated to implement DMCA-like laws, and remove certain freedoms from their own populations. However, the exporting of these restrictions has started to cause a ‘blowback’ reaction against these restrictions. People don’t like their freedom being taken away.

    The recent decision in the Finnish Supreme Court is an example of this ‘blowback’ that is so central to the continued separation of the world into ‘free’ and ‘non-free’ zones, and shows that the E.U. will be in the free zone. Note that the decision was unanimous:

    Hat Tip: Groklaw

    Finnish court rules CSS protection used in DVDs “ineffective”

    In an unanimous decision released today, Helsinki District Court ruled that Content Scrambling System (CSS) used in DVD movies is “ineffective”. The decision is the first in Europe to interpret new copyright law amendments that ban the circumvention of “effective technological measures”. The legislation is based on EU Copyright Directive from 2001. According to both Finnish copyright law and the underlying directive, only such protection measure is effective, “which achieves the protection objective.”

    So that’s it–this is potentially the end of restrictions on the distribution of DeCSS libraries in the EU, and what’s even more interesting, it seems that a precedent has been established–if a DRM scheme can be broken, it will be deemed ‘ineffective’ and therefore not subject to DMCA-like restrictions on the disclosure of its workings. The whole decision seems to be a slippery slope to repealing certain DMCA-like provisions that exist in the E.U. Those who would want to continue or to extend such restrictive schemes in Europe would do well to remember the popular outcry and eventual defeat of the Directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions (2002/0047/COD), the final vote being 648-14.

    The popularity of the Pirate Party in Sweden is another example of this ‘blowback.’ Those who favor DMCA-like restrictions ascribe the popularity of the Pirate Party to clever marketing etc. In reality, however, their praise of the effective PR of the Pirate Party is entirely misplaced. It is those who oppose the Pirate Party who have done all of the good PR for the Pirate Party, by trying to shutdown the web site Pirate Bay, for example.

    Europe is hardly the only place where DMCA-like restrictions have been falling afoul of basic laws (read ‘constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens’) of a country.

    The USA-Australia Free Trade agreement also required Australia to implement laws similar to the DMCA. It’s notable that many innovation leaders in Australia were strongly opposed to this treaty. In particular, Andrew Tridgell, the developer of Samba, notes on his website that the so-called ‘Free Trade’ Agreement, in an Orwellian twist, is really all about restrictions, not freedoms:

    Harming Trade
    The free trade agreement has been presented as promoting trade and breaking down trade barriers, but Chapter 17 is more about restrictions and constraints on Australians. For Australian computer users what Chapter 17 really does is erect a one-way gate, preventing Australian consumers from having access to the same software and media that are enjoyed in other countries.

    But one of the most interesting facts he cites shows that the restricted IP zone that America has built has begun to place it at a disadvantage:

    For instance, in 2001 a Russian programmer named Dimitry Skylarov spent several months in a United States jail after Adobe asked the FBI to arrest him for writing software that allowed books in the Adobe e-books format to be used by blind people[6]. Dimitry, who wrote the software in his home country, was visiting the United States to give a paper at an international conference.

    Since then a number of key technical conferences have had to be moved away from the United States as organisers fear that some of their speakers could suffer a similar fate. It is notable that the three major technical Linux conferences are now in Canada, Germany and Australia, which all lack DMCA-like laws.

    Since Andrew had written this, the USA-Australia Free Trade Agreement was passed. However, an Australian legislative committee looked into exactly how the DRM provisions of this agreement could be implemented into Australian law. As covered on Wikipedia:

    The agreement requires legal enforcement of digital rights management systems, however an Australian legislative committee has issued a report[4] stating that this portion of the treaty has a “significant flaw”. The report goes on to term it a “lamentable and inexcusable flaw”, an “egregious flaw”, and even a “flaw that verges on absurdity”. The committee expressed the strong view that the Government must find a solution to the flaw before implementing this portion of the treaty.

    It’s unlikely that robust DMCA-like provisions will be effectively integrated into Australian law.

    So, the US is exporting restrictions via the so-called ‘Free Trade Agreements’ and importing poverty, by building markets that are non-competitive, closed and dominated by monopolies at home. This gives other regions the chance to take the lead in the knowledge economy. But don’t take my word for it–a study commissioned by the EU to look at FLOSS (Free Libre Open Source Software) found:

    • Increased FLOSS use may provide a way for Europe to compensate for a low GDP share
    of ICT investment relative to the US. A growth and innovation simulation model shows
    that increasing the FLOSS share of software investment from 20% to 40% would lead to
    a 0.1% increase in annual EU GDP growth excluding benefits within the ICT industry
    itself – i.e. over Euro 10 billion annually.

    • FLOSS potentially saves industry over 36% in software R&D investment that can result
    in increased profits or be more usefully spent in further innovation.

    • By providing a skills development environment valued by employers and retaining a
    greater share of value addition locally, FLOSS can encourage the creation of SMEs and
    jobs. Given Europe’s historically lower ability to create new software businesses
    compared to the US, due to restricted venture capital and risk tolerance, the high share of
    European FLOSS developers provides a unique opportunity to create new software
    businesses and reach towards the Lisbon goals of making Europe the most competitive
    knowledge economy by 2010.

    • The existing base of quality FLOSS applications with reasonable quality control and
    distribution would cost firms almost Euro 12 billion to reproduce internally. This code
    base has been doubling every 18-24 months over the past eight years, and this growth is
    projected to continue for several more years.

    Posted in First Amendment, IP, Globalization, Future, Free Software.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    Tim this is actually a good post about something that is very wrong, the exporting of restrictions from USa to the rest of world. I’d actually had a blog about this, extracts which I shall post below.

    (I would just post the link, but everytime I post with a link it goes into moderation limbo..)

    Exporting Restrictions, Importing Poverty
    May 27th, 2007 — enigmafoundry | Edit

    Some new developments that reinforce an observation I’d made that the emerging world-wide IP landscape will become one that is divided into two differing regimes. One, centered on the USA, is built on strong restrictions on the free transfer of certain types of information. The two cornerstones of this restricted space are the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and overbroad patent protections. While software patents, a particularly pernicious form of overbroad patent protections, have gotten much attention, the real backbone of this restricted space is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which codifies criminal prosecution for the transfer of certain types of information, even to the extent that many types of speech, formerly thought by many to be protected by the First Amendment, have been criminalized.

    The other economic space will be marked by freedom of information transfer, and it will develop into the place that innovative software development, digital content creation and design will occur. Historically, the first two of these fields had been dominated by America, and America still has many advantages over other regions in these fields, but is risking those advantages by adhering to such restrictive measures as the DMCA. This is a minority opinion, at present.

    I noticed a while back that those pushing for these restrictions were not content to let other types of IP regimes co-exist in other parts of the world, but seemed compelled to constantly push for an expansion of their restrictive laws into all regions that actively participate in the global economy. The reason is quite simple: all other things being equal, an economic space freed from the restrictions of the DMCA and overbroad patent protections, will out-compete the non-free zone. Of course, all things are never in fact equal, but the essential truth that the restricted economic space would be at a critical economic disadvantage to the free space is why those advocating DMCA-like restrictions have constantly sought to export these restrictions to other countries. Once the economic dis-advantages of these restrictions was clear, the advocates of freedom would be able to make a compelling case to abolish restrictive laws like the DMCA.

    It is therefore no accident that in every so-called ‘free trade’ agreement negotiated by USA, the signatory country is obligated to implement DMCA-like laws, and remove certain freedoms from their own populations. However, the exporting of these restrictions has started to cause a ‘blowback’ reaction against these restrictions. People don’t like their freedom being taken away.

    The recent decision in the Finnish Supreme Court is an example of this ‘blowback’ that is so central to the continued separation of the world into ‘free’ and ‘non-free’ zones, and shows that the E.U. will be in the free zone. Note that the decision was unanimous:

    Hat Tip: Groklaw

    Finnish court rules CSS protection used in DVDs “ineffective”

    In an unanimous decision released today, Helsinki District Court ruled that Content Scrambling System (CSS) used in DVD movies is “ineffective”. The decision is the first in Europe to interpret new copyright law amendments that ban the circumvention of “effective technological measures”. The legislation is based on EU Copyright Directive from 2001. According to both Finnish copyright law and the underlying directive, only such protection measure is effective, “which achieves the protection objective.”

    So that’s it–this is potentially the end of restrictions on the distribution of DeCSS libraries in the EU, and what’s even more interesting, it seems that a precedent has been established–if a DRM scheme can be broken, it will be deemed ‘ineffective’ and therefore not subject to DMCA-like restrictions on the disclosure of its workings. The whole decision seems to be a slippery slope to repealing certain DMCA-like provisions that exist in the E.U. Those who would want to continue or to extend such restrictive schemes in Europe would do well to remember the popular outcry and eventual defeat of the Directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions (2002/0047/COD), the final vote being 648-14.

    The popularity of the Pirate Party in Sweden is another example of this ‘blowback.’ Those who favor DMCA-like restrictions ascribe the popularity of the Pirate Party to clever marketing etc. In reality, however, their praise of the effective PR of the Pirate Party is entirely misplaced. It is those who oppose the Pirate Party who have done all of the good PR for the Pirate Party, by trying to shutdown the web site Pirate Bay, for example.

    Europe is hardly the only place where DMCA-like restrictions have been falling afoul of basic laws (read ‘constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens’) of a country.

    The USA-Australia Free Trade agreement also required Australia to implement laws similar to the DMCA. It’s notable that many innovation leaders in Australia were strongly opposed to this treaty. In particular, Andrew Tridgell, the developer of Samba, notes on his website that the so-called ‘Free Trade’ Agreement, in an Orwellian twist, is really all about restrictions, not freedoms:

    Harming Trade
    The free trade agreement has been presented as promoting trade and breaking down trade barriers, but Chapter 17 is more about restrictions and constraints on Australians. For Australian computer users what Chapter 17 really does is erect a one-way gate, preventing Australian consumers from having access to the same software and media that are enjoyed in other countries.

    But one of the most interesting facts he cites shows that the restricted IP zone that America has built has begun to place it at a disadvantage:

    For instance, in 2001 a Russian programmer named Dimitry Skylarov spent several months in a United States jail after Adobe asked the FBI to arrest him for writing software that allowed books in the Adobe e-books format to be used by blind people[6]. Dimitry, who wrote the software in his home country, was visiting the United States to give a paper at an international conference.

    Since then a number of key technical conferences have had to be moved away from the United States as organisers fear that some of their speakers could suffer a similar fate. It is notable that the three major technical Linux conferences are now in Canada, Germany and Australia, which all lack DMCA-like laws.

    Since Andrew had written this, the USA-Australia Free Trade Agreement was passed. However, an Australian legislative committee looked into exactly how the DRM provisions of this agreement could be implemented into Australian law. As covered on Wikipedia:

    The agreement requires legal enforcement of digital rights management systems, however an Australian legislative committee has issued a report[4] stating that this portion of the treaty has a “significant flaw”. The report goes on to term it a “lamentable and inexcusable flaw”, an “egregious flaw”, and even a “flaw that verges on absurdity”. The committee expressed the strong view that the Government must find a solution to the flaw before implementing this portion of the treaty.

    It’s unlikely that robust DMCA-like provisions will be effectively integrated into Australian law.

    So, the US is exporting restrictions via the so-called ‘Free Trade Agreements’ and importing poverty, by building markets that are non-competitive, closed and dominated by monopolies at home. This gives other regions the chance to take the lead in the knowledge economy. But don’t take my word for it–a study commissioned by the EU to look at FLOSS (Free Libre Open Source Software) found:

    • Increased FLOSS use may provide a way for Europe to compensate for a low GDP share
    of ICT investment relative to the US. A growth and innovation simulation model shows
    that increasing the FLOSS share of software investment from 20% to 40% would lead to
    a 0.1% increase in annual EU GDP growth excluding benefits within the ICT industry
    itself – i.e. over Euro 10 billion annually.

    • FLOSS potentially saves industry over 36% in software R&D; investment that can result
    in increased profits or be more usefully spent in further innovation.

    • By providing a skills development environment valued by employers and retaining a
    greater share of value addition locally, FLOSS can encourage the creation of SMEs and
    jobs. Given Europe’s historically lower ability to create new software businesses
    compared to the US, due to restricted venture capital and risk tolerance, the high share of
    European FLOSS developers provides a unique opportunity to create new software
    businesses and reach towards the Lisbon goals of making Europe the most competitive
    knowledge economy by 2010.

    • The existing base of quality FLOSS applications with reasonable quality control and
    distribution would cost firms almost Euro 12 billion to reproduce internally. This code
    base has been doubling every 18-24 months over the past eight years, and this growth is
    projected to continue for several more years.

    Posted in First Amendment, IP, Globalization, Future, Free Software.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    I agree with James Surowiecki that there’s a symmetry between the “intellectual property standards” in these recent trade agreements and the “labor and environmental standards” that left-wing groups have long demanded be appended to trade deals.

    Perhaps you have an argument with the labor standards–I am not sure though since labor standards can mean everything from child labor laws, to wage rates.

    However with the enironmental rules you really are wrong because the biosphere does represent a limited good that is of economic utility, and it needs to be fairly priced or divided up in some fair way. It is certain now, that the ability of the biosphere to absorb CO2 is not infinite, and trade mechanisms seem the most obvious way the negotiate this division. Of curse, there may be others, but I’d have to hear how they would work, first.

    For example, the Montreal Protocol which phased out ozone depleting chemicals, imperfect as it was, in the end did reduce dramatically the output of these chemicals, and was enforced partly through trade rules.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    I agree with James Surowiecki that there’s a symmetry between the “intellectual property standards” in these recent trade agreements and the “labor and environmental standards” that left-wing groups have long demanded be appended to trade deals.

    Perhaps you have an argument with the labor standards–I am not sure though since labor standards can mean everything from child labor laws, to wage rates.

    However with the enironmental rules you really are wrong because the biosphere does represent a limited good that is of economic utility, and it needs to be fairly priced or divided up in some fair way. It is certain now, that the ability of the biosphere to absorb CO2 is not infinite, and trade mechanisms seem the most obvious way the negotiate this division. Of curse, there may be others, but I’d have to hear how they would work, first.

    For example, the Montreal Protocol which phased out ozone depleting chemicals, imperfect as it was, in the end did reduce dramatically the output of these chemicals, and was enforced partly through trade rules.

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