The Null Device


Representatives of various nations are meeting in The Hague to make legal decisions enforceable across jurisdictions. Under the Hague Convention, as proposed, legal decisions on matters such as patents, copyright, libel and censorship made in any signatory state will be enforceable in all signatories. This delights both censorious regimes eager to silence offshore dissidents and multinational corporations eager to extend their grip on intellectual property, and alarms civil libertarians, consumer organisations and free-software advocates, including Richard Stallman:

If a French court ruling against Nazi statements is enforceable in the US, or in your country, maybe a Chinese court ruling against anti-Chinese-government statements will be enforceable there too. (This might be why China has joined the Hague treaty negotiations.) The Chinese government can easily adapt its censorship law so that the Hague treaty would apply to it; all it has to do is give private individuals (and government agencies) the right to sue dissident publications.
Suppose, for example, that Microsoft would like to be able to impose copyright on languages and network protocols. They could approach a small, poor country and offer to spend $50 million a year there for 20 years, if only that country will pass a law saying that implementing a Microsoft language or protocol constitutes copyright infringement. They can surely find some country which would take the offer. Then if you implement a compatible program, Microsoft could sue you in that country, and win. When the judge rules in their favor and bans distribution of your program, the courts in your country will enforce the judgment on you, obeying the Hague treaty.


Connect 'Em Till They Bleed: A new study shows that unhappy workers are more productive, not being distracted by unprofitable pursuits such as happiness, and/or seeking to lose themselves in diligent work. Perhaps this will spawn a new school of management methodology designed to keep one's employees profitably miserable?

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