April 30, 2003  ·  Lessig

There’s a standard dance that the IP extremists do well: When they lose in Congress, they go overseas and negotiate a treaty that imposes on the US the same obligation they just lost in Congress; then they come back and say, “we must do this to live up to our international obligations.”

So here we go again: The US Trade Representative is negotiating trade agreements with Chile and Singapore. The agreements essentially require these two countries to adopt the DMCA, and make it a violation of “our international obligations” if we were to change the DMCA. Representatives Lofgren and Boucher — who both have bills introduced to amend the DMCA — have written a strongly worded letter to the USTR asking for clarification. For consistent with this policy making process, just what is being promised is never made clear — until it is too late. Here’s the letter.

  • http://hertzlinger.blogspot.com Joseph Hertzlinger

    This is what we unilateralists were trying to warn you about.

  • http://slicedbread.dnsalias.net Dan


    Sinks unprofitable treaties, politically or economically (e.g. Kyoto Accords–bad for industry, UN Conference on Racism–bad for domestic and Insraeli-American politics, non-proliferation treaties–bad for politics and the arms industry). When treaties are simply a stipulation to engage in profitable international trade, there is no specific anti-treaty agenda. Bush may be a bad guy, but he’s not a unnecessarily bad guy. He only violates treaties for a (albiet, in my mind, stupid) reason.

    Not to muddy an otherwise exceptionally lofty discussion with petty politics.

  • http://www.lugs.org.sg Harish Pillay

    The FTA between Singapore and the US was signed earlier this week – on May 6th 2003. This means that the DMCA could be enforceable in Singapore – I think, IANAL. I am active in the open source movement in Singapore being a founder/immediate past president of the Linux Users’ Group (Singapore). What worries me is that there is exposure to the criminal liabilities of the DMCA for any legitimate (but refused by the vendor) request to make a product work in Linux space. The same concerns that soem Linux developers have expressed in not disclosing weaknesses in some of the Linux code for fear of DMCA is going to make things all the more problematic moving forward.


  • Anonymous

    I know it was a rhetorical question, but the answer is clear — the Democratic leaders have a stronger record on all issues whatsoever than the current Bush administration does.