Every so often, you discover something that illuminates and explains an issue perfectly.
Some background: a few days back OSNews
had a pointer to an article over at the Swedish site Falkvinge.net. It was titled: Cable Reveals Extent of Lapdoggery from Swedish Govt on Copyright Monopoly.
The article examined evidence from Wikileaks that strongly suggests that US media companies and trade associations (thanks to direct
assistance from the US Embassy and other US government agencies) have been allowed to interfere with the Swedish government, legal system, and internal politics.
And what makes it so alarming is that the Swedish government has gone along with it for the most part.
From the Falkvinge & Co. article:
Among the treasure troves of recently released WikiLeaks cables, we find one whose significance has bypassed Swedish media. In short: every law proposal, every ordinance, and every governmental report hostile to the net, youth, and civil liberties here in Sweden in recent years have been commissioned by the US government and industry interests.
I can understand that the significance has been missed, because it takes a whole lot of knowledge in this domain to recognize the topics discussed. When you do, however, you realize that the cable lists orders for the Swedish Government to implement a series of measures that significantly weakens Sweden’s competitive advantage in the IT field against the US. We had concluded this was the case, but had believed things had come from a large number of different sources. That was wrong. It was all coordinated, and the Swedish Government had received a checklist to tick off. The Government is described in the cables as “fully on board”.
Since 2006, the Pirate Party has claimed that traffic data retention (trafikdatalagring), the expansion of police powers (polismetodutredningen), the law proposal that attempted to introduce Three Strikes (Renforsutredningen), the political trial against and persecution of The Pirate Bay, the new rights for the copyright industry to get subscriber data from ISPs (Ipred) — a power that even the Police don’t have — and the general wiretapping law (FRA-lagen) all have been part of a greater whole, a whole controlled by American interests. It has sounded quite a bit like Conspiracies ’R’ Us. Nutjobby. We have said that the American government is pushing for a systematic dismantlement of civil liberties in Europe and elsewhere to not risk the dominance of American industry interests, in particular in the area of copyright and patent monopolies.
But all of a sudden, there it was, in black on white. It takes the description so far that the civil servants in the Justice Department, people I have named and criticized, have been on the American Embassy and received instructions.
This will become sort of a longish article, as I intend to outline all the hard evidence in detail, but for those who want the executive summary, it is this: The Pirate Party was right on every detail. The hunt for ordinary Joes who share music and movies with one another has been behind the largest dismantlement of civil liberties in modern history, and American interests have been behind every part of it.
The article is a good read. And pretty damning as long as you're not saying these "leaked documents" are a complete fabrication, as some in the media industry are starting to claim. Well worth reading through slowly
in order to reach your own conclusions, if for nothing else.
But interesting as the article was, what I found even more valuable was a question and a response from two of the readers.
First came the question from reader Ad who wondered what it was about the media industry that Washington was bending over backwards to protect it - despite the fact there are obviously more important industries and issues the US could be focusing on:
September 5, 2011 - 17:17
What I’m curious about is the “why?” behind all this. Why is the US pushing so actively for the entertainment industry? There are, after all, bigger industries (moneywise) than entertainment. My thoughts are that piracy and sharing hurts the industry that is necessary to promote the “American way of life”, i.e. cultural dominance of the USA. Control of the media equals controlling the public. I tried other explanations, this is the best I can come up with so far…
The answer came shortly after from reader Anonymous. This is a response that needs to be read and digested. Because I think it exactly nails what the motivation and the real agenda behind all the nonsense surrounding patents, copyright, DRM, and IP law is.
I'll sum Anonymous' response up briefly: The United States effectively produces little other than
so-called 'intellectual properties.' And will soon produce nothing other than
intellectual properties if its current business and investment practices continue in the direction they're going.
And that direction seems to be "through the looking glass..."
If the United States can't get the rest of the world to go along with elevating 'intellectual' intangible
goods to the same legal status as tangible
goods - and protecting them in the exact same manner...then the United States is doomed economically in roughly another 10-20 years.
See below for a fuller explication (emphasis added
September 6, 2011 - 23:28
The reason is simple. The US has transitioned from an industrial economy to a “service economy” and is beginning to take the next steps further. Also, by now the US corporations have destroyed many of the meatspace production sectors in the entire nation by off-shoring massive parts of their production and development capability to China, India and other low-cost countries.
Detroit no longer produces cars. Plastics, paints, etc. come from China. The electronics is “designed in California, made in China”. The list goes on.
What is left? It’s Hollywood, the music industry, medical industry, software, patents, all sorts of intellectual property. There is plenty of that!
The drive is to twist the world into accepting intellectual property as if it were something tangible. The US pushes this hard because it is the only thing they have left. The idea is not to own the methods of production, but to own the instructions for the methods of production, and make others pay for using the instructions.
A problem appears when the rule-setters don’t play by their own rules. Case Håkan Lans is a good example. However, this is an understandable course of action when seen from the previously described perspective. Patent fights with foreign companies and screwing foreign inventors over is necessary as their survival is at stake.
What is intellectual property at its heart? It has no real value – it’s just a pile of contracts. To make the gamble which the USA is doing work, there must be a global unified acceptance of these contracts. This is pushed via ACTA and other treaties. The key is this: if the world is not unified behind accepting these piles of contracts as properly valid, then what happens? The IP-heavy regime, which US focuses on, will simply fail. They can’t keep on making movies for a profit when over half of the planet pays them nothing for it. Once the IP-heavy regime fails, US will not have much more left, and they cannot print more dollars to get out of that mess, the problem is simply too big. Also, they cannot reverse the falling trend by taking back the meatspace production, unless they start now – they cannot do this because of the short-term corporate profit motive prevents such strategic investments. Therefore, once the world-wide rejection grows via the Pirate Party movements and others, a collapse will be imminent.
This is why they fight nail and tooth against all intellectual property violations. It’s a matter of survival for them.
Bingo! Suddenly all the tolerance for patent trolling, ridiculous patent grants, insane IP protection legislation, specious claims of trademark and copyright violations, etc. etc. etc. and other nonsense that we've been enduring for the last five or so years makes perfect sense.
As does all the foot-dragging on the part of the US government and court system to stop or reform any of this.
Why is this not getting fixed? Because the US doesn't want it fixed - it wants it embraced
and made the law of the entire world. Because this is how the United States plans on competing now that it will soon produce nothing of any significant value other than: knowledge, ideas, instructions, formulas, methods, words, musical notes, and images.
The United States wants to move its economy from the real world of factories and resources, and labor, and products into a wholly intangible universe of concepts and ideas. And the only way the US can pass through this virtual looking glass - and survive - is if all the other nations of the world change their legal systems in order to protect this new US business model.