Saturday, July 29, 2006

 

Free software guru speaks against WTO

Richard Stallman is a well-respected software developer, having created a suite of important and powerful free software (The GNU Project) and a staunch advocate for free software. He argues that software, like recipes for food, evolve better if they allow others to tinker with them and add their own improvements. Patents inhibit this evolution. Here are some quotes from Stallman:

[Describing a trip to Cambodia] The climax of the event, for me, occurred when the representative of the government of a rather undemocratic Asian country defended the WTO. (The WTO requires copyright rules that forbid people from sharing.) He explained, condescendingly and at excessive length, that people who decide to play soccer must abide by its rules, arbitrary though they may be; then he compared the WTO's rules to the rules of soccer. He said, "These are the rules that the wealthy countries have set for access to their markets. We have to accept them."

I responded, "The WTO's rules were designed to be unjust. In every country, they benefit the the wealthy and hurt everyone else. They give us a world of sweatshops. No country should accept these rules." Half the people in the room then applauded. The other half probably support trickle-down economics. Read Stallman's full account


* * *

And in another conference:

This speech is about a way of misusing laws to make software development a dangerous activity. This is about what happens when patent law gets applied to the field of software.

You may have heard people using a misleading term "Intellectual Property". This term, as you can see, is biased. It makes an assumption that whatever it is you are talking about, the way to treat it is as a kind of property, which is one among many alternatives. This term "Intellectual Property" pre-judges the most basic question in whatever area you are dealing with. This is not conducive to clear and open minded thinking.

There is an additional problem which has nothing to do with promoting any one opinion. It gets in the way of understanding even the facts. The term "intellectual property" is a catch-all. It lumps together completely disparate areas of law such as copyrights and patents, which are completely different. Every detail is different. It also lumps together trademarks which are even more different, and various other things more or less commonly encountered. None of them has anything in common with any of the others. Their origins historically are completely separate. The laws were designed independently. They covered different areas of life and activities. The public policy issues they raise are completely unrelated. So, if you try to think about them by lumping them together, you are guaranteed to come to foolish conclusions. There is literally no sensible intelligent opinion you can have about "Intellectual Property" . If you want to think clearly, don't lump them together. Think about copyrights and then think about patents. Learn about copyright law and separately learn about patent law.

To give you some of the biggest differences between copyrights and patents: Copyrights cover the details of expression of a work. Copyrights don't cover any ideas. Patents only cover ideas and the use of ideas. Copyrights happen automatically. Patents are issued by a patent office in response to an application... Read full account
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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

 

WTO talks collapse -- unbalanced trade agreements seen

"The collapse of the 5-year negotiation of the Doha Development Round
signals the entry of more abusive and unfair bilateral trade
agreements for the Philippines," said Jessica Reyes-Cantos, Lead
Convenor of Rice Watch and Action Network (R1).

R1, a coalition of rice-related NGOs and farmers groups also warned
the government against pursuing bilateral trade agreements that are
inconsistent with the quantitative restriction on rice imports that
the country got in earlier WTO trade negotiations.


"Can the government consistently push for the interest of our local
rice farmers against unlimited entry of subsidized rice from the
United States through PL480 and other rice exporting countries through
the bilateral trade agreements, now waiting in the wings?" asked
Cantos.

Cantos posed this challenge as the country recently signed the
$20-million commodity loan from the US that will facilitate the entry
of 69,000 metric tons of American rice into the country for sale to
the private sector.

"We would like to remind the government that the American rice that we
will be importing are the same heavily subsidized rice products that
is the core issue behind the collapse of the Doha Development Round,"
said Cantos.

The government is set to hold trade talks on the US Free Trade
Agreement in which the PL 480 is included.

Cantos also urged the government to push for the Special Products (SP)
and Special Safeguards Mechanism (SSM) in the bilateral trade
agreements as it consistently pursued in the WTO along with other
developing countries.

As agreed in the WTO's Hongkong Ministerial Declaration last December,
the Philippines is allowed to designate a specific number of
agricultural products as SP or with zero or minimum tariff reduction.
The SSM, meanwhile allows the country to implement safety nets for
local farmers against increased volume of imports and price
depression.

Cantos said the least that this government can do is to protect the
local farmers against unfair competition with imported agricultural
products as it espoused in its negotiating policy in the WTO.

"We are waiting to see this government's consistency in pursuing
agricultural trade policies whether in the multilateral trading system
under the WTO or in a bilateral trading mode," said Cantos.
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Monday, July 24, 2006

 

Sign the Fair Trade Petition

Symbolic yellow card to Dubya

Join us make the Big Noise! This petition represents the voices of millions of people around the world who are calling for decision-makers to make trade fair. With your help, we want to make it the biggest petition ever.

Sign the Fair Trade Petition now
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Saturday, July 22, 2006

 

Annotated Version of the Final HK Ministerial Declaration

Interesting read. Trade lawyer and WTO watcher Lori Wallach wrote her comments directly on a copy of the Final Declaration of the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial meeting (in PDF version) at the Global Trade Watch web site. Her notes reveal the hidden motives behind the declaration. Please visit their site or download it directly here.

This site also contains key findings from a book about the WTO titled "Whose Trade Organization?" by Lori Wallach and Patrick Woodall.
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Thursday, July 20, 2006

 

Filipino actors in international advocacy coffee table book

Two local actors recently made it in the pages of a coffee table book published by Oxfam International in support of its fair trade campaign.

Eugene Domingo and Jojit Lorenzo were featured side by side with Antonio Banderas, Alanis Morisette, Gael Bernal and other international celebrities who endorse Oxfam’s Stop Dumping campaign.

Eugene was last seen in the Bong Padilla-Aiai delas Alas starrer “Kapag Tumibok ang Puso.” She has had her share of top billing in the big comedy hit with Pokwang “Lucky in Love.” Jojit, on the other hand, is a theater and television actor whose latest outing is an indie film “In Da Red Korner” with Meryll Soriano. Eugene and Jojit were also together in many a soap operas among them Marina and Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan.

Both were ecstatic seeing their picture together with top international stars. “Ay ako palagi kong dala yung book, ipinapakita ko sa lahat,” Eugene says as she leafs through the pages of the book.

The book focuses on the campaign that calls on First World countries to stop dumping their excess products to developing countries and give these economies a chance to grow. Dumping , of course, is a by-product of the so-called trade liberalization where foreign products can enter any country without worrying about tariffs and duties.

Dumping and unfair trade are among the agenda in the current Doha rounds negotiations in the World Trade Organization. Philippine trade groups are pushing our negotiators to demand a better deal for the Philippines.

Jojit says it is not uncommon nowadays for actors to engage in different advocacies. “We can always lend our name to causes we think are worth endorsing, and only if we believe in the same cause.” They were not paid for either the pictorial or the video ad which came out in ANC earlier.

Candy Pangilinan and Gary Granada were also part of the video ad, but only Jojit’s and Eugene’s photos were included in the book.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

 

Can World Trade go to the next level?

Everyone agrees that world trade is important, but that's where the agreement ends. How to conduct it, how to make it mutually beneficial, how to make it fair -- these are the positions and interests that are being debated. This blog will be our take -- a Filipino take -- on a global issue. How will it affect our country? Who's in danger? Who will gain?

We will be posting regular updates on what's happening at WTO and what the other side thinks about it. We will also be trying to explain what WTO means to all of us. If you're interested in this issue, please visit regularly. Invite your friends to visit and join the debates too.
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Monday, July 17, 2006

 

Rockers against WTO!

Instead of throwing rocks, they throw rock concerts. RockEd recently concluded the successful One RockEd Nation in celebration of their first anniversary. RockEd is a group of music artists who seek alternative ways to make rock more relevant.

Spearheaded by alternative rock luminaries like Noel Cabangon and Cynthia Alexander, the group encourages young Filipinos to take a more active role in solving poverty. The group exhorted the youth speak up in support of fair trade in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

RockEd is allied with Oxfam (an international NGO) in the campaign for fair trade. "Young Filipinos wanting to end poverty in the Philippines must be heard," said Shalimar Vitan, Oxfam's Policy Advocacy Coordinator in the Philippines. "Government must listen and secure ... the country’s future against unfair global trade. We do not want the Philippine government to sign a deal that would destroy Filipino business and livelihoods and make already poor people even poorer.”

Vitan also appealed that Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila and other members of the WTO negotiating team take heed of the call "Huwag Isugal ang Pilipinas sa WTO negotiations! Wala tayong laban sa madayang kalakalan!" (Do not gamble our country's future in these negotiations. We don't have a chance against unfair trade.)

To bolster its campaign, Oxfam called on Filipinos to mail individually-signed postcards to government offices. Ten thousand postcards are ready to be sent to Secretary Favila, lead of the Philippines' negotiating team in the WTO.

The concert held at the Central Plaza of Eastwood in Libis, Quezon City featured top rock artists Noel Cabangon, Paolo Santos, Radioactive Sago Project, UpdharmaDown, Giniling Festival, Juan Pablo Dream, Kala, Dictalicense, Chilitees, Paramita, Ang Bandang Shirley, Cherry Cornflakes, Cynthia Alexander, Agaw Agimat, Chicosci, Sheila and the Insects, Salindiwa, Pupil, Menaya, Isha, The Ronnies, Sound, Drip, Makatha, Stonefree, and OuterHope.

Also read: MB Online
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