21 February 2010

Criminalise Exotic Pets, not File Sharing

As I've noted before, in ACTA governments and the content industries are pushing the Big Lie that swapping copyrighted materials is linked to organised crime. Here's some actual research in developing countries refuting that:

they’ve found no connections between piracy and drug trafficking, prostitution, organized crime, or terrorism. There are little overlaps but nothing systematic. This is despite industry claims that piracy funds organized crime and terrorism.

And if the authorities really cared about stopping organised crime's ancillary activities, here's one it would be tackling first:

Countries across south-east Asia are being systematically drained of wildlife to meet a booming demand for exotic pets in Europe and Japan and traditional medicine in China – posing a greater threat to many species than habitat loss or global warming.

More than 35 million animals were legally exported from the region over the past decade, official figures show, and hundreds of millions more could have been taken illegally. Almost half of those traded were seahorses and more than 17 million were reptiles. About 1 million birds and 400,000 mammals were traded, along with 18 million pieces of coral.

The situation is so serious that experts have invented a new term – empty forest syndrome – to describe the gaping holes in biodiversity left behind.

"There's lots of forest where there are just no big animals left," says Chris Shepherd of Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network. "There are some forests where you don't even hear birds."

Seahorses, butterflies, turtles, lizards, snakes, macaques, birds and corals are among the most common species exported from countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. Much of the business is controlled by criminal gangs, Shepherd says, and many of the animals end up in Europe as pets. The rarer the species, the greater the demand and the higher the price. Collectors will happily pay several thousand pounds for a single live turtle.

But of course, since we're talking about mere ecosystems here, not something sacred like intellectual monopolies, it's pretty low on governments's priorities....

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Andrew said...

The answer is simple. Allow patents on the DNA of endangered species, and then importation of them will doubtless come within the ACTA enforcement remit.

What could possibly go wrong?

Glyn Moody said...

@Andrew: brilliant.