Back in November:
For a few years now, we’ve been following how the US’s attempt to ban online gambling potentially goes against international treaties they’ve signed as part of the WTO. The WTO has told the US that it cannot stop online gambling in Antigua, so long as it allows any online gambling in the US. The US (in true US fashion) simply pretended the WTO said something different and proceeded to ignore the ruling completely. The WTO has been warning the US to comply, but the latest attempt by Congress to ban online gambling actually makes the situation worse. The WTO was very clear that the only way the US can ban online gambling and stay in compliance with international treaties is to ban all online gambling, with no exceptions. Congress, on the other hand, made plenty of exceptions for the type of gambling they like (such as lotteries and horses).
Back in March, we pointed to a story suggesting that Antigua was considering retaliating by ignoring US intellectual property laws, in order to offer things like free (or cheap) music and software. Last month, the idea began to get more attention, and now a lawyer has written an interesting piece suggesting that the WTO may even support Antigua in ignoring its intellectual property treaty obligations as a fair retaliation against the US ignoring its online gambling obligations. It certainly seems like this idea is gaining a lot of traction, and if they weren’t serious about it before, you have to imagine such ideas will certainly be brought to Antigua’s attention pretty quickly. The end result, then, may be that the US’s attempt at banning online gambling, may open up efforts supported by the WTO for Antigua to willfully infringe on US intellectual property. Wonder how fast that would lead entertainment companies to start lobbying in favor of allowing online gambling?
Just a few days ago we were discussing the slippery slope set up by US law enforcement officials for determining that any work done for an online gambling company – even if done in the country of that company where gambling is legal – is considered a criminal act. Now, the WTO has ruled against the US on this issue saying that the criminalization of online betting in other nations violates WTO accords. Of course, it sounds as if US politicians and law enforcement officials are just going to shrug and ignore the decision and continue with their current tactics to stop any American individual or company from dealing with any online betting operation – no matter how legal it is in their country of origin.
I’d suggest to Antigua to start an mp3 server right away!
HR 811 features several requirements that will warm the hearts of geek activists. It bans the use of computerized voting machines that lack a voter-verified paper trail. It mandates that the paper records be the authoritative source in any recounts, and requires prominent notices reminding voters to double-check the paper record before leaving the polling place. It mandates automatic audits of at least three percent of all votes cast to detect discrepancies between the paper and electronic records. It bans voting machines that contain wireless networking hardware and prohibits connecting voting machines to the Internet. Finally, it requires that the source code for e-voting machines be made publicly available.
Not afraid of a challenge, the European Commission has decided to take on Apple and the major record labels at the same time.
According to reports, the EC spent the last week mailing out a handful of Statement of Objections to Apple and four, as of yet, unnamed record companies. The letters document EC concerns over Apple’s variable iTunes pricing in Europe. The Commission claims that Apple and the music companies have violated policies meant to stop restrictive business practices.
“Consumers can only buy music from the iTunes online stores in their country of residence and are therefore restricted in their choice of where to buy music, and consequently what music is available and at what price,” EC spokesman Jonathan Todd, told Reuters.
The EC’s iTunes investigation kicked off in 2005 after people started complaining that songs in France and Germany were cheaper online than in the UK.
Other European nations have expressed objections to Apple’s use of DRM (digital rights management) technology and its insistence that iTunes songs be played on iPods only.
Apple issued a statement saying that it wanted a Europe-wide version of iTunes but was told by the music companies “that there were certain legal limits to the rights they could grant us.”
Another one of my pet peeves – region limits, like on a DVD. These companies want to be able to buy wherever the fuck they want, and at the same time want to stop you from doing the same.
Above is one of the three new pictures available in the CafePress store I maintain here. So you you want a t-shirt or cap from your favorite weblog, you can!