America writing our laws?

Written By: - Date published: 6:34 am, May 3rd, 2011 - 21 comments
Categories: colonialism, leadership, us politics - Tags: ,

The latest release of Wikileaks cables from America’s embassy in Wellington contains some interesting reading (and has attracted international attention). The Greens are on the case:

US influence over copyright law undermines our democracy

The Green Party is seeking clarification over possible US intervention in the run-up to the passing of the controversial Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act under urgency recently.

A newly released Wikileaks cable shows the US Government worked closely with Government officials to ensure draft copyright legislation was expedited and protected the interests of the US recording industry.

“The latest Wikileaks cables show how vulnerable our Government is to pressure from big businesses in the USA,” said Green Party Information and Communications Technology spokesperson, Gareth Hughes.

“Both Labour and National Governments have been subject to intense lobbying from the US. Hollywood moguls shouldn’t be writing our law! … “This kind of blatant intervention in local law enforcement is undermining our democracy. …

“The New Zealand Government has been subject to intense international corporate lobbying. As the Government consults further on the current online copyright regime, it must make decisions that work for the New Zealanders that elected them, not US interests.

“However, this Government has overtly bent over backwards to make labour law suitable to Warner Brothers. Why wouldn’t they have done the same in this case behind the scenes?”

Pressure has been applied to governments (current and previous) since at least 2008. For relevant quotes from the cables and a fuller discussion see Michael Giest’s blog. An April 2009 cable, for example, stated:

Throughout the final stages of the law’s (near) implementation, the Embassy continued to met with IPR stakeholders and GNZ officials to ascertain progress and encourage resolution. To determine how a “workable” section 92A provision can be secured, Econoff met with Rory McLeod, Director at Ministry of Economic Development (MED) with responsibility for IPR within GNZ along with Paula Wilson, Deputy Director for Trade Negotiations at MFAT, and was given assurance that the government remains committed to redrafting Section 92A.

Embassy will continue to stress with GNZ officials the need for a shorter rather than protracted timeline for the redraft and will ascertain the details of a notice and comment period for public submissions once released by GNZ. During this hiatus we’ve proposed holding DVC(s) between NZ and U.S. interlocutors to possibly help with drafting and as a public diplomacy tool to dispel public misperceptions about proper role of IPR protection.

It seems clear that American interests have had a lot to do with drafting this particular NZ law. How many others? How stupid would we have to be give them any further leverage through the TPP? They’re already gunning for Pharmac. I remember a time when we weren’t afraid to assert our sovereignty and our independence from America…

21 comments on “America writing our laws?”

  1. Galeandra 1

    Maybe Goff and Co at least can shine over this issue? While it’s been simmering in the background I don’t think average NZ has paid much attention to it. But there seems to be a very clear pattern now, and with the leaks as ‘evidence’ surely the major opposition party can leverage a concerted attack which the broad public should pick up on?

  2. Bored 2

    Proof that we are part of the Empire indeed, as Tariq Ali pointed out to the noxious Kim we are a vassal state. We follow where they lead, do as they say.

  3. Perhaps they write our leaders speeches too. Here is the speech (and it is literally one speech for both men) both Howard and Harper used to lead their countries to war with Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 911 events. Funny eh, how they are the same. Feeling manipulated? That’s because we are.
     

    • vto 3.1

      Now that is something worth watching…

      Oh but except of course that it is just another conspiracy junkie ranting. Because conspiracies never exist in the policial world do they…….. Nope. Never collusion behind closed doors. Never say one thing and do another. Doesn’t happen. All people of the world, especially those with power, are 100% open and honest. Yep, that’s right. Never in the history of manwoman has there been a conspiracy. Not by your better half even. Not by your boss at work or co-workers. Not by your business competitor. And certainly not by the politicians. There has never been a conspiracy in the world. They just don’t exist.

    • rosy 3.2

      Now that’s a conspiracy theory I can believe. Simple, straightforward and the most likely answer – Two US allies had the same speeches because they came from the same source.

  4. PeteG 4

    The Greens may be on that case, but there are claims they are in the case as well.

    Leaked American diplomatic cable reveals that a discreet diplomatic lunch, a free trip to Washington and assurance of “assistance” from the US Embassy in Wellington have been used to blunt the Green’s “radical positions on many issues”.

    The Americans seduced Green co-leaders Metiria Turei and Norman, the latter with a free trip to Washington, and managed, over a lunch, to get a commitment from list MP Kennedy Graham “to turn (to the embassy) for any assistance he may need in the future.”

    In his reaction Mr Norman said he was not approached to comment and objected to the US cables being handled as if they were truth.

    Contact is obvious, influence is not.

    The Ameicans can also see the obvious:

    In an earlier cable Keegan said the Labour Party needs to “revamp its current parliamentary list, which is replete with tried, tested, and largely defeated Labour Party stalwarts”.

    That would have been before the current list?

    • higherstandard 4.1

      These cables are pathetic.

      1. Good on the greens for getting a freebee.
      2. Like many other organisations the cable reveals that the diplomatic core when reporting to their boss like to massage the truth to make themselves seem to have done a significantly better job then they actually did.

  5. PeteG 5

    Brash’s extra-marital brashness was also noted:

    National Party MPs were initially panicked at news of “colourless” Don Brash’s alleged extramarital affair, amid concerns that his philandering could cost them the female vote, leaked American cables show.

    A cable sent on September 13, 2006, is called: “National leader’s extramarital affair threatens his party’s agenda”.

    The cable concludes with the comment: “For months Brash has been under pressure from National Party colleagues, who see him as colourless and incapable of leading the party in overturning Helen Clark’s government.

    “Whatever the case, the matter will certainly command the bulk of NZ media attention, wiping the Labour election spending brouhaha off the front pages and undermining months of National Party efforts to cast doubt on the government’s honesty.”

    Brash famously had difficulty getting his leg over the frame of a stock car but found it much easier to get his leg over in other ways. Have Act financiers tried to hobble his private life.

  6. vidiot 6

    How to spot an American drafted law:

    * Legalize
    * Customize
    * Analyze
    * Color
    * Aluminum
    * Checking Account
    * Ass
    * Organize
    * Realize
    * Aging

  7. KJT 7

    Com-on! We have had sock puppets for American corporate interests governing us since 1984.
    May have been a break from them in 2000 to 2008, but I am not sure, given Labour is throwing the election.

    Not to mention those who want to sell us to whatever bidder gives them the biggest bribe.

    No wonder why my Indian Friends reckon we are more corrupt than India. It is just much better hidden.

    • Afewknowthetruth 7.1

      No. It started long before 1984. The Muldoon government bent over backwards to allow US corporations to shaft NZ by way of ‘Think Big’. And before that the Labour government bent over backwards to accommodate the interests of the interenational aluminium industry.

      ‘more corrupt than India. It is just much better hidden.’

      The Rothschilds have been in charge of the NZ profit centre since around 1875.

      • KJT 7.1.1

        Actually think big was an attempt to make us more self sufficient.

        I had problems with many of Muldoons policies, but the intention behind think big was correct.
        If oil prices had continued their rise at the time Muldoon would have been a Hero.
        Note that Fletchers, when they bought the case for access to refinery product, showed the refinery was making good money before it was given away. The oil companies had hidden them with transfer pricing until it was sold. Probably the case with many of the projects.

        If Muldoon was around today he would be called a extreme left socialist. Muldoon of course considered himself at the centre of orthodoxy at the time.

  8. M 8

    “Embassy will continue to stress with GNZ officials the need for a shorter rather than protracted timeline for the redraft and will ascertain the details of a notice and comment period for public submissions once released by GNZ.”

    Could it be the US is scared of a left victory?

    Also if Pharmac bites the big kumara will all the herceptin recipients still get their drug? Key certainly didn’t mind his enabler Hide to getting shafted so I guess the gloves are off for everything else.

  9. M 9

    “If the film had featured an etching by Whitmill, the studio would have had to get the rights to show it in the film “cleared”– that is, approved by the copyright owner. That clearance process is a major headache for a lot of filmmakers, especially documentarians who film real life—and therefore capture things like songs, TV shows, and art works. The same rule applies to the tattoo. So far, so good for Whitmill.”

    http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/05/02/can-you-copyright-a-tattoo/

    Studios getting a taste of their own?

  10. randal 10

    hey come on dudes. there was an american warship at the signing of the treaty and the first nz insurance coy was the firemans fund from chicago.
    nothing has changed and nothing is going to.
    I dont care a stuff about intellectual copyright as its basically an oxymoron but Pharmac must be allowed to keep control of supplying drugs so that the margins allow for prescriptions for all and not just wealthy holders of health insurance policies. We dont need that sort of pork barrelling here.

  11. Rights and wrongs aside, I was surprised by how little play this story had in the media. I didn’t see or hear any reports in the newspapers or radio (I don’t have access to TV news at the moment).

    If a similar leak happened in Australia or the UK it would be top of bulletin and on the front pages.

    Maybe I was looking in the wrong places.

  12. katie 12

    good post, interesting comments.

    Yeah, Green opposition to the section 92 draft bill and the recently passed Copyright Infringement Bill was driven by a lot of IT people who have made the Greens their ideological home. Gareth is a bright cookie, and has been noticed not only by the writers at Slashdot, but also by Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing. (to many of us, that was a bigger coup!)

    There is a lot of material in the Wikileaks Wellington cables that is up for misinterpretation; after all, it is the opinions of station heads at the Embassy, coded and sent upline to Washington, and thus has inbuilt bias in the way that they interpret what they have observed. Obviously, during McCormack’s tenure, there was a strong desire to ingratiate himself with the Bush Administration, and be seen to be influencing events. Once the National Government came into play, the Embassy has assumed that its influences will be better received than under Clark/Goff leadership.
    The Warner’s deal is just one example. Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to Auckland, the push for acceptance of the TPP, are further areas where strong influence has been brought into play.

    They are here to advance American corporate interests, just as much as they are stamping visas for holiday-makers and arranging visits for international student exchanges; never assume that an Embassy is not looking out for the main chance for their own people. Such is the way of international diplomacy, such has it been since it’s codification during the nineteenth century.
    The only difference that came in during the twentieth century was the risk of nuclear bombardment if negotiations with a superpower failed; in our recent times, a ten-year war in Iraq/Afghanistan has been an object lesson to smaller nations about the willingness of the American Administration to walk all over any country who even shows the appearance of upsetting them, or attempting to show any sovereignty over the resources extracted from their own soil. Iraq was a war for oil, there were no WMD’s, they lied.

    IP rights are the thin end of a wedge that includes service sector businesses like healthcare and education, and private sector concerns like mining rights. Do we really want to allow the USA sovereignty over our laws, our healthcare, our schools, our national parks, in return for some dubious benefits for signing their TPP, and allowing full access to US-based MNC’s? I don’t think so.

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