All Commentary
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This Is Free Trade?

The so-called Republic of Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement has lived down to expectations. Note this excerpt from a report in The Hill:

Specifically, the agreement extends intellectual property protections by ensuring copyright holders have the exclusive right to publish their works online. It also bans the hacking of technology used to protect copyrighted work from unauthorized duplication.

The agreement also addresses online piracy, strengthens copyright enforcement by criminalizing end-user copyright theft, outlaws the use of camcorders in cinemas and provides law enforcement the necessary authority to seize and destroy counterfeit goods and the equipment used to produce them. The entertainment industry believes that authority will dissuade counterfeiters from using South Korea as a conduit for their illegal trade.

Once again “free trade” is being used to obscure a U.S. government effort to pressure other countries to adopt stringent American-style “intellectual property” laws, which attempt to control the dissemination of information. Not only is IP becoming increasingly more difficult to enforce as the price of technology falls, IP is completely at odds with the spirit of freedom and liberalism, and requires that the individual right to physical property be violated by government. That’s right, the U.S. government is exporting bigger government to other countries — at the behest of powerful business interests.

For articles on the case against IP, see:

“How ‘Intellectual Property’ Impedes Competition” by Kevin Carson

“Open-Source Software: Who Needs Intellectual Property” by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine

“Fashion Design and Copyright” by Edward J. Lopez

“Do Patents Encourage or Hinder Innovation? The Case of the Steam Engine” by Michele Boldrin, David K. Levine, and Alessandro Nuvolari, and

“Intellectual ‘Property’ Versus Real Property” by Sheldon Richman

  • Sheldon Richman is the former editor of The Freeman and a contributor to The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. He is the author of Separating School and State: How to Liberate America's Families and thousands of articles.