posted Jun 12, 2001

Harm from the Hague Misc.6/12/2001; 8:20:50 PM 'The Hague treaty is not actually about patents, or about copyrights, or about censorship, but it affects all of them. It is a treaty about jurisdiction, and how one country should treat the court decisions of another country. The basic idea is reasonable enough: If someone hits your car in France or breaks a contract with your French company, you can sue him in France, then bring the judgment to a court in whichever country he lives in (or has assets in) for enforcement.'The intersection of all activities not banned by patent, copyright, and censorship restrictions somewhere in the world is effectively a null set. It is not reasonable to assume that this tidbit of knowlege, obvious even to a computer nerd, has somehow consistently escaped the treaty writers. Thus, one must search for the motivation behind this treaty, because on the face of it, the whole idea is incredibly stupid and naive.Only two motivations seem to be in the running: Money (corporate interests) and power. Money does not seem likely to me; any company interested in using this to their advantage is just as likely to find themselves on the wrong end of a lawsuit in Nigeria or Egypt or Hong Kong or who knows where (perhaps "The Country That Always Finds In Favor Of The Prosecution, For A Small Price", recently formed off the coast of, oh, let's say France?). Then again, corporate interests are notoriously short-sighted... perhaps this is yet another example of a purchased law that will inevitable come back to haunt the purchasers.Still, I feel the only viable conclusion is that this treaty must be a power play by somebody, as it is equally obvious even to a computer nerd that all the courts in the world working 24 hours a day could not possibly service all the possible suits that could be filed should this go through. 100% enforcement is clearly not the intention. The whole point is going to be selective enforcement, which directly translates to power in the hands of whoever is doing the enforcing. (That's a powerful argument against proliferating laws, BTW; the power of selective enforcement tends to fly under the radar and remains undetected until it's in strafing range, but it's a very real power nonetheless.)Still, I can't think of a party that doesn't stand to lose as much as they might gain. Perhaps somebody can answer this for me: Who truly gains from this? The only answer I can think of is "the Third World" (giving them extensive powers over the courts of the rest of the world, notably the First World), but that's a vague answer and still doesn't explain why anybody else would sign this thing... who gains?(A truly paranoid answer: Only those countries with the maximal restrictions on speech, patents, or copyrights. For instance, Afghanistan. Afghanistan would be able to propogate its control far and wide. So, the people pushing for support of this treaty are those who want this control propogated, and are using this as a door to turn otherwise free countries into effective dictatorships in certain areas. It's paranoid, of course... but the thought has certainly crossed more then one mind.)


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