Friday, November 26, 2004

Free trade that isn't free

Patently yours "We quite understand that (the title) How to Kill a Country may sound alarmist...We use the parallel experience of Canada to buttress some of these points. Canada is now being described by leading author, Mel Hurtig, as a "Vanishing country"...By the mid 1980s, about half of the major US corporations in Canada were 100-percent American-owned. Ten years later, some 85 per cent had no Canadian shareholders...As Canadian shareholders were eliminated, corporate boards were substantially reduced in size and more American directors were added, as were more U.S. CEOs and board chairmen. As external directors were eliminated, there was no longer a force to influence policy decisions which would be beneficial to Canada. Gone too was the ability to scrutinise the payment of dividends, management fees, and content costs paid to the parent company."

"But the Australian negotiators overlooked the point that Australia is a net importer of IPRs...As a whole, Australian industry has everything to gain by moving away from the Microsoft stranglehold and towards an Open Source mode - rather like governments in Germany and Taiwan are currently doing in earnest...local firms would do well to shift towards the Open Source model, and utilise open source programs such as Linux..."

"...frequently the actions are entirely justified, and entirely in the spirit of competition - as when an importer of copyright-protected CDs seeks them out in a third market and imports them, entirely legally, at a lower cost than is stipulated by the IPR-holder. The FTA makes this action much more difficult - in the name of placing severe restrictions on parallel imports. Another name for this is placing restrictions on free trade in IPR-protected goods - all within a "free trade" agreement!"
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