Copyright History. Part 7: Pfizer Raider Takeover

Original author: Rickard Falkvinge
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The first part is Black Death .
The second part is Bloody Mary .
The third part - Monopoly dies ... and is reborn .
The fourth part is the USA and libraries .
The fifth part - Non - property rights .
The sixth part is Raider capture by record companies .

Toyota hit the U.S. in the heart in the 1970s, and all American politicians felt the end was near. The most American of all things are cars! American cars! - suddenly turned out to be not good enough for the Americans. Instead, they bought Toyota cars. It was an apocalyptic sign - the United States could no longer compete with Asia, and their industrial power was approaching sunset.

This is the last part of my series of articles on the history of copyright monopoly. The period from 1960 to 2010 was marked by two processes: firstly, the once exclusively commercial monopoly penetrated into nonprofit, private life (“home recording is illegal” and such nonsense), as a result of which copyright became a threat to fundamental rightsperson; secondly, corporate political expansion of copyright and other monopolies. The first process, during which the intellectual property industry prophesied a catastrophe after each new round of technological progress, deserves a separate article . Here I will focus on the second process.

When politicians realized that the United States was no longer able to maintain economic leadership by producing something valuable and vital, they created many committees and working groups that had one goal - to find the answer to the crucial question: how can the United States remain a world leader unable to produce competitive products?

The answer came from an unexpected source - from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

On July 9, 1982, the New York Times published a fierce article by Pfizer President Edmund Pratt titled “Theft of Ideas,” about how Third World countries steal from Pfizer (theft meant making medicines from local raw materials in local factories using their own knowledge and time to own citizens who were dying from terrible, but quite treatable diseases common in the third world). The political elite saw in Pratt's position a possible answer to his question and invited him to head one of the committees, subordinate directly to the president - the Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations.

Under the leadership of Pratt, the Committee adopted recommendations so bold and provocative that no one was sure whether to try them or not: it was proposed to link trade relations and foreign policy. Any country that refused to sign US “free trade” agreements was subjected to political pressure, the most famous example of which are blacklists from special report 301 , which list countries that do not respect copyright enough. These lists even include Canada, in the countries mentioned in the lists, the majority of the world's population lives.

Thus, the solution to the problem of the inability to produce anything valuable on the world market was to redefine the terms “produce”, “something” and “valuable” in the context of international politics, which was suppressed by threats. It worked. The US Trade Representation followed the recommendations of the Trade Negotiation Advisory Committee and began to put pressure on foreign governments to force them to enact laws favorable to American industry and to sign bilateral and multilateral "free trade" treaties defending American interests.

Thus, the United States formed a market in which they could rent drawings to the rest of the world in exchange for the finished products created by them. Under new “free trade” treaties containing artificial substitution of concepts, this was considered a fair deal.

This policy was supported by all American monopolists, both copyright and patent. Together, they made a second attempt at a raider seizure of the World Intellectual Property Organization and the Berne Convention, so that their policies would receive legitimate support in the new trade agreement promoted under the Bern Plus brand.

It was at this point that the United States decided to accede to the Berne Convention.

However, WIPO saw through this scheme and did not succumb to pressure and manipulation. WIPO was not created to give one country an edge over the rest of the world. She was outraged by the brazen attempt to crush the copyright and patent monopolies.

So I had to look for other ways. Representatives of the monopolies turned to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ( GATT ) and were successful there. They managed by hook or by crook to force the majority of GATT participants to sign a new agreement, which on the basis of the Berne Convention redefined the terms “production”, “goods”, “value”, and significantly strengthened the position of the US industry. This agreement is called the “Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights” Agreement ( TRIPS) After ratification of this agreement, the GATT was renamed the World Trade Organization (WTO). 52 GATT member countries that refused to join the WTO were soon forced to do so, under serious economic pressure. Only one country out of 129 original GATT participants has survived.

The TRIPS treaty was severely criticized because it made the rich richer and the poor poorer, and when the poor did not have money left, they were forced to pay with their health and even their lives. This agreement forbade third-world countries to produce medicines from their own raw materials in their own factories with their own hands for their own people. Over time, some of the terms of the contract had to be softened to avoid disastrous consequences.

But perhaps the most striking example of how important artificial monopolies are for the United States is the story of Russia's attempts to join the WTO (it is completely unclear for what purpose). The United States demanded to close the AllofMP3 online music store, completely legal in Russia . This store traded mp3-files, was legally considered a music radio station and paid the corresponding royalties.

Let's take a closer look. The United States and Russia sat at the negotiating table. Former sworn enemies holding each other on a nuclear sight 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The United States had the opportunity to bargain almost anything. And what did they demand?

Close the damn music store!

It turns out how important copyright monopoly is.

To summarize:

File sharing is not just everyone’s personal business. It has been and remains a matter of global economic dominance. Let's exchange further to deprive the monopolists of power and give it to people! If everyone shares cultural values, we will defeat the oppressors of freedom, as it already happened once, when we began to read books on our own and cast off the shackles of the Catholic Church.

Thus ends the history of copyright as of 2011. The copyright and patent industries are now trying to repeat the TRIPS trick with the ACTA, which they now call TRIPS Plus. The last word in this case has not yet been said. Let’s make it so that in ten years it’s possible to write a new chapter in this story, a chapter on the fact that publishing any information, disseminating it and sharing it is easier than ever before!

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