Friday, August 24, 2007, 8/24/2007 08:16:00 AM

Australia: Trading Its Intellectual Property for a Lamb Chop?

From On-Line Opinion, an Australian site, a somewhat bitter piece by Dale Spender concerning Australia's trade agreement with the U.S. which requires the country to harmonize (or as they say in the rest of the English-speaking world, "harmonise") its IP laws with the U.S. (While we're at it, let's harmonize spelling too.)

The basic premise is that from the beginning of our Republic and for as long as it suited us, the U.S. pirated the world's intellectual property and trade secrets. Now that we're on top, the argument goes, we're all about protection of IP by law.

And Australia, Spender says, signed on to a regime that favors the U.S. in order to get free trade (and, presumptively, to sell us lamb chops).

According to Spender:

"According to one esteemed Australian journalist we traded our IP for a lamb chop. Sydney Morning Herald business commentator Ross Gittins said much the same thing: 'To the Australian negotiators it is about eliminating trade barriers; to the US it is all about IP.' They sell it and we buy it. On their terms. And that’s the story of how IP has become the new wealth. And how countries that don’t 'harmonise' their IP laws with the US are in trouble; and individuals who don’t go along with the US laws designed to lock up American IP - are pirates and criminals."

While I don't necessarily agree with everything Spender says, we owe it to ourselves to listen to voices from countries like Australia and their points of view deserve our consideration.

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