Aardvark DailyNew Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 18th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.
Content copyright © 1995 - 2013 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk
Please visit the sponsor!
I think it's time we told the USA to go take a hike.
Don't get me wrong, I know quite a few Americans and with only a few exceptions, they're just like us: nice, courteous, polite and amiable folk who make wonderful friends.
However, as a nation, they suffer from the same bureaucratic dead-wood we do -- except, as with all things "U.S.", their version is bigger, bolder and more self-important.
Not content with unilaterally appointing themselves the world's "global policemen", the USA is also working very hard to force its idea of copyright law onto everyone else.
And NZ is right there in the firing line.
If we're not very careful, we may soon find ourselves on the wrong side of the law -- US copyright law that is and, if you've been paying attention to the plight of Kim Dotcom, that could mean an extradition to the good old USA and a few years playing "pass the soap" with Bubba.
Yes, I'm talking about the myriad of international intellectual property (IP) treaties and agreements that the USA keeps cooking up and trying to foist on the rest of the world.
SOPA, COPA, TPPA - the list seems endless because as soon as one fails to gather any widespread support, they just roll out a new acronym with the same draconian copyright provisions attached.
New Zealand's present government seems ever-so-keen to forge a free-trade agreement with the USA -- yet seem totally oblivious to the fact that such an agreement will never include our key primary-sector exports.
The US farming sector has the federal government wrapped around its little finger. There's just no way that any US government is going to allow free access to NZ dairy, meat or wool so why on earth are we even considering selling our sovereignty in the hope of achieving that impossible goal?
I've already written about the risks of the TPPA and how that could effectively scuttle the parallel imports which provide protection against the legalised extortion that "exclusive distribution rights" often provide. But today there's something else you should be aware of...
If the NZ government accepts the US demands associated with TPPA (or a US/NZ FTA) then a huge percentage of the NZ population could effectively become criminals overnight.
That's right -- one of the major elements of the proposed copyright changes would be the criminalisation of any technology or acts which deliberately circumvent any form of copy-protection or digital rights management (DRM).
Now while the naive might think that this won't affect them because they're not pirates -- they need to think again.
If you have a multi-region DVD player -- you will become a criminal.
If you have a bunch of non zone-4 DVDs and you play any of them -- you will become a criminal.
Now given the number of parallel import DVDs and number of region-free DVD players that already exist in NZ, I would expect that acceptance of the US diktats in respect to copyright law would turn a huge swathe of the nation into copyright criminals and, given our extradition treaty with the USA and their propensity to whisk people away from their home nation to face trial in a US court -- you might want to pack your bags now.
Of course we all know that this would never happen -- no government would be so silly as to criminalise a huge percentage of their population just to try and obtain an FTA that can never be -- right?
Cue Tui's ad.
Now it strikes me that instead of wasting huge fortunes in boozy lunches for trade ministers, diplomats and associated hangers-on, we ought to simply tell the USA that any concessions in respect to copyright are off the table.
If they walk away then we've saved a fortune.
If they continue negotiations then we're a whole lot further down the track of coming up with a deal.
I see no downsides to such a strategy -- except that it could mean fewer taxpayer-funded overseas jaunts for our politicians.
Let's see if they're willing to save the taxpayer some money and cut years out of these Trade negotiations -- shall we?
Please visit the sponsor!
Oh, and don't forget today's sci/tech news headlines
Remember, this is purely a gift, you'll get nothing other than a warm fuzzy feeling in return.