Have you heard of WCT or WPPT? Or TRIPs?
Odds are you haven’t.
But you’ve probably heard of the DMCA, EUCD, and/or InfoSoc.
This simple fact illustrates very quickly how much better we’ve become in just ten years. WCT is the WIPO Copyright Treaty, and WPPT is the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. They were the backroom deals from 1996 that forced the DMCA and the EUCD to happen in 1998 and 2001, respectively.
Once the international agreements were inked, they had to be ratified. It didn’t help too much to protest the DMCA’s rectocranialism at that point, because its principal contents had already been locked in.
So now that we’re spotting yet another one of these bullshit backroom deals, TISA (the Talking In Shades Agreement, which it doesn’t stand for but that’s how I like to read it), which is about curtailing the Internet and civil liberties in order to benefit big business, we know what it will lead to if we don’t kill it in time.
…Oh, who am I kidding? Specifying “the agreement is about curtailing the Internet and civil liberties to the benefit of big business” doesn’t clarify a bit. Every single shady backroom deal has been about that.
TISA – which is supposed to stand for Trade in Services Agreement – was brought to attention by the EFF about ten days ago, and its contents were leaked by WikiLeaks shortly thereafter. That’s not bad. That’s getting considerably better. If we had done that with WPPT and WCT in 1993 and 1994, we wouldn’t have had the abominations of DMCA and EUCD today.
Not to mention the TRIPs agreement. Have you heard of that? Odds are you haven’t. It was essentially the US locking in its position as king of the hill by redefining most economic metrics so the rest of the world would be forced to pay rent. (For the interested, there’s an excellent book about how that agreement came to be. It’s worse than you think. Much worse.) It was one of the first deals where the copyright industry realized just how much rent they could extort from the public by ganging up against everybody else.
However, we didn’t have a developed Internet when the WCT, WPPT, or TRIPs were being drafted in the early 1990s. We do now. That’s why we were able to stop SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA. And that’s why we will be able to stop the TTIP, TPP, and this TISA abomination as well.
Things aren’t getting worse. What’s happening is that we have taken ourselves the right and the ability to put spotlights and sunlight on all the dirt. And this particular kind of dirt doesn’t survive sunlight.
The lobbyists will keep trying, for sure. For a while. They’re paid to do so, after all. Until their sponsors start noticing the nonexistent return on a considerable investment.
We haven’t won yet, but even though we’re digging up more dirt every year, the fact that we’re now digging up this dirt and exposing it means that we’re winning the long term.
After all, we have the Web and they don’t. When the Internet gangs up on the bad guy, the bad guy loses. Every single time.
I don’t think the copyright maximalists know how to deal with that fact.