CAFTA and Intellectual Property
All those in favor of software patents got a huge victory with the passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA.) I can't believe that the U.S. got the other countries to agree to uphold U.S. copyright laws. It looks like global economy really means that other countries will do anything to get U.S. business.
The really terrible thing about all this is that it will probably only end up making these largely poor countries poorer. What with Microsoft going for 3,000 software patents, they will be able to hold complete control over many countries' economies. If a Central American company for example comes up with something that is similar to a service or product developed in the United States, even if it is significantly different than the original product, they will be sued. The problem arises when the party being sued has to defend itself against say a juggernaut like Microsoft with it's multi-million dollar legal team. How can a small independent company in Brazil for example hold up against their legal onslaught, even if they are in the right. What is happening is that these other countries will have a tough time innovating because they will almost always be stepping on someone's patents. What CAFTA is buying the U.S. is a group of hands for them to outsource to without the difficulty of leaving the timezone.
The biggest losers in this deal are the American workforce, the Central American Workforces, and the Open Source Movement. The big gainers are Central and North American fat cat politicians and companies who are completely beholden to the bottom line.
What I don't truly understand in all of this offshoring is why in none of the agreements is there a clause stipulating a minimum wage that has to be paid to laborers working in foreign lands and employed by an American company. I'm not suggesting that they should be paid what the typical American doing the job would make, but a software engineer anywhere in the world should make more than $8 US per hour for coding. There are also little to no stipulations on maximum hours worked, or environmental concerns. I'm not sure why people in these other countries have agreed to this deal, but it is very clear that either they were hoodwinked, or that they have been misled into thinking that this will greatly enhance their standard of living. It may increase it a little, but if they have to work 18 hour days and live in smog worse than L.A. of the 80's I'm not so sure it is worth it.