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Monday, November 18, 2013

Mickey hijacks a treaty -- Editorial, The Washington Times

Obama’s friends in Hollywood try to rewrite copyright protections

The most "transparent administration in history" has a stunted understanding of free trade. A treaty called the Trans-Pacific Partnership would determine how Americans listen to music, watch movies and use the Internet. It was written in secret by Hollywood and the administration to protect the usual suspects.

The rogues at WikiLeaks obtained a draft copy of the agreement and put it online where, to the consternation of the White House, everyone can read it. The document suggests the Obama administration may not be as interested in stimulating economies through expanded trade opportunities as in lending a hand to Democratic campaign contributors in the movie and recording industries.

Under the deal, Hollywood studios would have the authority to issue orders to any signatory nation for the removal of any Web page, and without judicial review. Compliance would be mandatory, for "expeditiously removing or disabling access, on receipt of an effective notification of claimed infringement."

The authors of the Constitution, quaint old fellows as they were, thought copyright protections useful, and that innovators should be rewarded for their work, but they clearly never regarded this as an unlimited right or absolute grant of power. The Founders believed that for the good of society, the public must be allowed to build upon the discoveries of others to advance science and the arts. At the nation's birth, it was enough to enable a songwriter to enjoy the fruit of his creation for 14 years. If he wanted more royalties than that, he could write another tune.

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