Monday, October 22, 2007

Can you say chutzpah?

Originally posted to my Yahoo 360 blog Friday August 3, 2007 - 10:14am (CDT)

Some stories bring back such happy memories. Here's one:

Japanese companies slam YouTube
Associated Press Writer

TOKYO --A coalition of Japanese television, music and film companies slammed YouTube Thursday, saying the online video sharing service was not doing enough to rid the site of cartoons and other clips that infringe on copyrights.


"YouTube has to stop how it runs its site and get rid of the illegal clips. We want them to reset the service," composer Hideki Matsutake told a joint press conference in Tokyo Thursday. The coalition met with YouTube and Google executives earlier in the week, the second such meeting this year. "There is no middle ground," Matsutake said. "We demand that all copyrighted material be removed immediately." Talks with YouTube and Google will continue, said Matsutake, who was acting as a spokesman for the group.

One of the personal quirks that helped me during my coursework in grad school was that I have a very good long term memory, and so I have no difficulty at all remembering something that our friends in Tokyo might want us to forget at this moment. Let's turn back the clock to the 1980s, at about the time American industry started going south in more ways than one, the Job crunch was beginning to materialise for scientific professionals, and let's remember a brash East Asian country that, as it clamored to be taken more seriously as world economic power, was confronted about a number of its trade practices. One of them, of course, being its habit of hypocritically screaming whenever another country would consider closing its markets to imports from that brash East Asian country without feeling the need to reciprocate by opening its own markets at home, but there was something else. What was it, again?

Oh, yes. It's seems that the budding young economic superpower was in the habit of not honoring patents from overseas. Circuitboards that would be designed in America would be duplicated there, with no greater alteration being made than a changing of the colors of the covers put over the chips, and that was good enough for the government of that brash young power. Complaints about this practice from the United States, made on behalf of home grown companies which had actually spent the money for the research that produced the designs that were being pirated were greeted with a stonewalling test of wills, and on being interviewed, the man in the street in that country seemed to offer a stereotyped response, saying in one way or another that America needed to stop whining. This took away much of the economic incentive to engage in research and development, derailing careers and damaging lives, and doing much to help create the present day rustbelt in the American Northeast and Midwest, many cities to this day having not recovered.

Now, what was the name of that country? I seem to remember it's a big place built on an island chain, east of China, south of Korea, next to the sea of JAPAN.

Thought for the day: what goes around comes around, and it should. If Japan is not going to honor the intellectual property rights of those living outside its territory, those of its own citizens should be shown no more respect. For far too long, that nation has been allowed to steamroller its trading partners into going along with a series of double standards that have benefitted it while scr**ing everybody else. When America had legitimate demands to make of Japan, Japan refused to listen. Now that the situation has reversed, America should absolutely return the favor, and expect those companies headquartered in it to do likewise. Tokyo might squeeze, but Washington can still squeeze a lot harder, and pardon me if I'm blunt, but Japan needs America a lot more than America needs Japan. Without our military support, Japan would be Finlandized by the Chinese at best, and would most likely be on its way to becoming a province of that country. The Cold War is long over, there is no enemy that poses a plausible threat to the United States, and the time for us to take abuse from so-called allies who act like anything but is long since over. Let's start reminding a few of those nonallies that actions have consequences. There is something to be said for holding a grudge.