Ministrul meu preferat


Este Remigijus Simasius, Ministrul Justiției din Lituania. Nu numai că respinge ACTA, ci afirmă că este doar picătura legislativă care a umplut paharul inițiativelor gândite de corporațiile media pentru a-și proteja interesele speciale.

Comentariile sale pe acest subiect sunt traduse în engleză și publicate pe site-ul Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom. Simasius împarte cauzele protestelelor anti ACTA în emoționale și intelectuale.

Cele emoționale sunt legate de abuzurile repetate contra libertății care au fost făcute în Lituania și peste tot în lume sub pretextul protecției proprietății intelectuale:

The thing is, we have been hearing stories about protection of intellectual property crossing the line for over a decade. One time we hear about some scouts enjoying a wild-fire, playing a guitar, singing some pop songs and then having been punished for not having bought a licence for them. Another story tells us how a researcher has to ask copyright-holders for a permission to quote for a scientific article. Another tells us about photographer getting punished for publishing his own photos on the internet. And then digital cameras and phones are taxed to “compensate” authors.

Argumentele anti ACTA și, în general, anti IP sunt analizate în 7 puncte:

Fourth, more and more people start to think that intellectual property (further – IP) protection laws are not to protect artists and inventors, but to finance big copyright industry. It is very convenient to manipulate authors and inventors, and it is done with great success. But certitude in the fact that authors, as well as progress, are benefiting from current situation in the system starts trembling, once one sees what part of these “compensations” reach authors, or the revenues of law firms specializing in IP laws. The same happens when big corporations are seen on a shopping spree for patents, not because of scientific advances or innovations, but to secure assets, or just for the sake of suing competitors. The same when departments of patent analyzing lawyers overgrow research departments in research centers.

It must be said that some inventors do not patent their inventions on purpose, to keep the invention secret, as patenting an invention means its forced(!) publication. Finally, companies gaining a lot from patent protection, loose a lot for the very same reason as well. E.g. if there was no IP concept, European Commission would have never succeeded in forcing Microsoft to reveal the secrets of their software.

Fifth, system of IP grows increasingly complicated, causing chaos in real life. E.g. if we look at legal relationships between the most popular manufacturers in mobile, computer and software industries (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Siemens, Nokia, etc.) we would see that, because of patents, virtually every one of them is suing each other. It definitely does not add to clarity in this highly dynamic and expanding field, costs huge amounts of money while stopping innovations at the same time!

Sixth, costs of knowledge distribution and production (copying) have dropped dramatically. Just think about how much it costs to upload a book (a song, a music video, a movie) to the internet versus printing or production of other traditional media (CD, DVD, VHS). Sadly, traditional production centers (publishers, Hollywood companies and others) are clinging to keep the same prices. It’s inconceivable to many, and it’s not very practical either.

The price of introducing a new product to the marker is falling too. Main reason – economies of scale. Today an intellectual product automatically and immediately spreads globally, despite of where it was created.

Seventh, less and less people are convinced that tools of IP guarantee scientific and creative activity. A lot of relatively new phenomena are confirming these doubts. To name a few: open source software, bloggers, artists, freely distributing their work (which, as a rule, just increases the sales and revenue for the them), marketing strategies based on free or ad-supported product while full-featured product must be bought.

When a lot of people see the possibilities of acquiring new low-cost products, and then see patent restrictions taking these possibilities away, most of them get angry.

Eighth, a lot of people question usefulness and ethic aspects of some of the more recent inventions, protected under IP laws. E.g. can human genetic code and its modifications be patented?

Ninth. A question is raised in other, less controversial, fields, is artificial stimulus to research, while giving inventors and their investors lawful monopoly to install these inventions, a good thing? There are lots of side effects to that. E.g. more resources are being dedicated to invention of patented products while less of them are being provided to the cause of actually making research results available to the market, i.e. general public.

The investment into research itself is done not as much because of a potential benefit to be seen, but because a company might experience disproportionately large losses and be pushed out of the market just because a competitor might patent some tiny invention.

Still, we haven’t discussed the most important reason—why did ACTA cause such an anxiety and why is IP protection seen very sceptically by not only left-winged dreamers, who’s wishes of banishment of property concept, I hope, will never come true.

Tenth, and, I think the most important, reason is that IP concept itself is not thorough. I wrote about it back in 2004 in an article “Intellectual (Non)property And Its Grimaces”. Discussions on IP concept have been taking place for well over a decade in academic world and they are getting increasingly intense.

Following questions are raised more often: is intellectual property a property, or just a privilege of state? How should interests of authors and inventors be protected once IP concept changes too?

ACTA is not the only subject of discussions today. There are no taboos over things that went unquestioned for quite a long time. Discussions are not only about the tools for protecting IP, but about the IP concept itself. Skeptical attitude towards ACTA is not being shown only by those, who think they deserve everything for free—pirates and socialist dreamers.

To summarize, today inventions, research and other intellectual activity are taking bigger and bigger part of our lives. Objects, protected by IP laws, had revolutionary advances over the last decades, while IP concept and its mechanics were evolving in the same direction, set in the end of 19th century. It’s probably time for us to re-evaluate the institute of intellectual property and find out if it needs some radical changes.

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Tudor Gherasim Smirna

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