Friday, June 01, 2007

US-Korea FTA precedent on fair use?

Cory's foaming at the mouth about the smallprint of the free trade agreement between the US and Korea due to be signed within weeks.

CSM@Remo blog says:

"In one glaring example, the governments agree to shut down internet sites that permit unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or transmission of copyrighted works-- without reference to exceptions for art, education and critique. If the agreement is ratified, both US and Korean governments will begin shutting down an undisclosed number of peer-to-peer (P2P) and online storage (‘webhard’) services. Korea will also be required to crack down on book copying on university campuses.

The Korea-US FTA could set a dangerous precedent. If ratified, the US is expected to push other countries to accept the similar conditions in their respective FTAs. Much of the ‘piracy’ that the US wants to see cracked down on is of materials copyrighted by large US-based corporations, not individual creators. Since distribution of movies, news, internet software and images is a core area of the US economy, the US government has long been aggressively pushing for stricter copyright and patent regimes in international arenas including through GATT and WIPO. The Korea-US FTA, represents a new step in this process...

Korean human rights and other civil society groups point to the lack of fair use provisions and the chilling effect this will have on the development of knowledge sharing tools, critical discussion, artistic expression and education. They also are concerned about the great potential for abuse: These provisions can be easily invoked by authorities to justify surveillance and outright censorship on political, cultural and social grounds. Memories of such a society are still fresh. Koreans fought hard to free themselves from long decades of authoritarian rule (much of which was at least indirectly US-supported), establishing one of the worlds most vibrant democracies. Human rights violations were common and severe as recently as 1992, though human rights and freedoms are now largely guaranteed. Civil society groups say they are not about to let US commercial interests open the doors for a new authoritarianism.

The Korean Alliance Against the Korea-U.S. FTA and social organizations call for international solidarity activities to stop this US FTA. They will hold a press conference about the problem of IPR chapter of Korea US FTA on May 28th. They welcome your critical opinions or statements on this IP chapter of Korea US FTA. Please send your comments and share this information with people world-wide.

The agreement is to be formally signed in June. The National Assembly is considering holding a parliamentary hearing in July or August on the free trade deal after the signing of the agreement, and both sides are considering re-negotiations on some points."

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