Re: Indian view of US IP Law
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Now have fun. Bruce Sterling -- email@example.com
> Date: Sat, 14 Dec 1996 09:20:41 -0500 (EST)
> From: Paul Jones <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Reply-to: Paul Jones <email@example.com>
> To: Mark Hosler <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
> James Boyle <email@example.com>,
> Bert Dempsey <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
> Laura Gasaway <email@example.com>
> Cc: Andie Miller <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Indian view of US IP Law
> Indian view of the US Economic Espionage Act. Particularly germane to the
> Shamans section of Jamie's book.
> ---------- FORWARDED MESSAGE ----------
> Date: Fri, 13 Dec 1996 11:47:32 -0800
> To: email@example.com
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Robert Winthrop)
> Subject: IPR: US criminalizes information flow
> Reply-To: email@example.com
> To IPR colleagues:
> This press report raises interesting issues regarding IPR, local cultures,
> and international commerce. I'd be interested in reactions. Is this
> relevant to our areas of knowledge and concern?
> Rob Winthrop
> NEW U.S. LEGISLATION CRIMINALISES EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION
> The recently passed US Economic Espionage Act criminalises the
> natural development and exchange of knowledge and empowers the
> nation's intelligence agencies to operate world wide to protect
> the interests of US corporations.
> By Vandana Shiva
> Third World Network Features
> New Delhi: The United States Congress has recently passed a piece of
> legislation which can be interpreted as criminalising the natural
> development and exchange of knowledge and empowers its intelligence
> agencies to operate world wide to protect the interests of US
> The legislation empowers the intelligence agencies to investigate the
> activities of ordinary persons world wide in an effort to 'protect' the
> intellectual property rights of US corporations, by viewing such IPRs as
> 'vital to national security'.
> Increasing the absurdity of this action is the fact that what is often
> seen as 'intellectual property' is information 'pirated' from non-Western
> societies and indigenous communities.
> Imperial power has always been based on a convergence of military
> power used in the defence of trade. This convergence was at the heart of
> the gunboat diplomacy during colonialism. A similar convergence is now
> taking shape around the defence of trading interests in a period of
> 'globalisation' and so-called 'free trade'.
> The British empire was built through the destruction of manufacturing
> capacities in the colonies, and the prevention of emergence of such
> Thus 'free trade' during that era of 'technological superiority' of
> England was based on the cutting off of the thumbs of master weavers in
> Bengal, the forced cultivation of indigo by peasants of Bihar, the slave
> trade from Africa to supply free labour to cotton plantations in the
> United States and the extermination of indigenous people of North
> It also included laws that prevented technology transfer. From 1765 to
> 1789, the English Parliament had passed a series of strict laws preventing
> the export of new machines or plans or models of them. Skilled people who
> worked the machines were not allowed to leave England to ensure that
> England remained the industrial power.
> Samuel Slatter (1768-1834), who is called the 'Father of American
> Manufacture', acted in violation of these British laws when he came to the
> US (then the colonies) secretly carrying the knowledge of mechanical
> spinning and weaving from England. He transferred his experience of
> working in the English factories to the US and built the first complete
> mill for spinning yarn.
> While the US built its economic power and manufacturing capacity by
> breaking free of the British monopolies, the current US Congress and the
> present-day US corporations appear unwilling to allow this spirit of
> freedom so fundamental to US history and economic development to exist
> anywhere else in the world.
> Anyone following in the footsteps of the 'Father of American
> Manufacture' today would be arrested and jailed for 15 years or fined up
> to $10 million under a new Act called the 'Economic Espionage Act of
> 1996'. The Act was introduced in the US Congress in July 1996, and passed
> on 17 September 1996 by a vote of 399 against three.
> [The Act] 'Amends the Federal criminal code to prohibit wrongfully
> copying or otherwise controlling economic property information (1) with
> the intent to, or with reason to believe that the offense will benefit any
> foreign government, instrumentality or agent or disadvantage any owner of
> proprietary economic information that is related to or included in a
> product produced for or placed in inter-state or foreign commerce or (2)
> with intent to divert that information to the use or benefit of anyone
> other than the owner'.
> The Economic Espionage Act takes espionage from military domains to
> economic domains. It redefines intellectual property infringement as a
> crime, and justifies the use of intelligence agencies to deal with issues
> of science and technology exchanges.
> As the introduction of the Act states: 'There can be no question that
> the development of proprietary economic information is an integral part of
> America's economic well-being. Moreover, the nation's economic interests
> are a part of its national security interest. Thus threats to the
> nation's economic interest are threats to the nation's vital security
> Transfer of technology has, through the Act, been redefined as
> 'economic or industrial espionage'.
> Espionage is typically an organised effort by one country's government
> to obtain information vital to the national security interests of
> Scientific and technological development depend on the free exchange
> of knowledge, technologies and ideas: and such exchange is now being
> defined as espionage.
> The absurdity of this 'intellectual property theft' becomes even more
> dramatic in cases where 'intellectual property' is derived from the
> transfer of knowledge from non-Western and indigenous systems to Western
> corporations. The US corporations have 'pirated' indigenous innovation and
> claimed it as their 'intellectual property'. Examples include patents on
> neem, haldi or turmeric, and Phyllanthus Niruti.
> Will the intelligence agencies of the US government be used to protect
> this 'intellectual property'? What methods will be used to destabilise the
> traditional uses, life-styles and cultures in order to protect 'the owners
> of proprietary economic information' such as W R Grace, which owns the
> majority of neem patents?
> The Espionage Act, in a world characterised by biopiracy, carries the
> danger of transforming the everyday activities of farmers and healers,
> students and researchers, scientists and industrialists into crime and
> What would happen if Third World countries used the same logic, and
> declare all bio-prospectors and ethno-botanists working for US
> corporations as engaged in 'economic espionage' and a threat to 'national
> security'? - Third World Network Features
> The text of the bill signed into law can be found via the Web at:
> It is about 85Kb in length. You can also retrieve the bill using ftp via
> "ftp.loc.gov" site:
> ftp ftp.loc.gov
> (log in as "anonymous")
> (give your user ID as the password)
> cd pub/thomas/c104
> get h3723.enr.txt
> Rob Winthrop
> Cultural Solutions |
> PO Box 401, Ashland, OR 97520, U.S.A. |
> Ph 541-482-8004; fax 541-552-0825 |
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