Here at Corporate Accountability Lab, we focus on global supply chains. We talk about forced labor in China and poverty wages in Bangladesh. We talk about workers producing for the US market who lack the most basic protections. And we do this as attorneys, with top notch educations, leveraging the power of our privilege to fight for human rights and the environment. But I’m going to get personal here.
Earlier this year, advocates and tech workers successfully lobbied Google to abandon a project with the Pentagon, code-named “Project Maven.” Google’s role in the project was to provide artificial intelligence (AI) that would analyze massive amounts of surveillance data for drones. I imagine if you did a survey of human reactions to enlisting artificial intelligence to figure out who to kill with a drone, the average person would check the box next to “dystopic hellscape.”
There has been some speculation about whether anti-dumping statutes could be put to good use in a human rights context. This speculation stems in part from a case filed in 2004 by the Southern Shrimp Alliance at the International Trade Commission (ITC), challenging the alleged dumping of Thai shrimp (notoriously forced-labor produced). While the shrimp case (discussed further below) did not specifically allege forced labor, it raised the question of whether anti-dumping claims could be used to challenge forced labor and other widespread abuses that suppress the consumer price of various imports.
One of the best documented and long-standing cases of corporate abuse in the world is the case of the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta and their decades-long struggle with Shell. As a multinational oil company, Shell has subsidiaries across the world, extracting the world’s hottest commodity from Australia to Venezuela.
In part 2, I described how the intellectual property (“IP”) morals clause has enormous potential for economic activism. It’s something that we badly need if we want to ensure that our own IP doesn’t end up fueling unethical supply chains, and it’s something that nobody currently uses.
In a classic 5-4 split, the Supreme Court ruled today that foreign corporations cannot be sued for egregious human rights violations under the Alien Tort Statute. Here is our fast-and-dirty take on the opinion. In short: the majority’s opinion appears to have more to do with market fundamentalism than the administration of justice, and sets a problematic precedent for victims’ access to remedy.
In part 1, I described the creation of the +CAL copyright licenses. I explained how and why our licenses ensure that the people and environmental inputs that comprise global supply chains are protected by the same “duty of care” that we have as consumers in the United States. Wonky lawyers may be quick to see why this is big deal, but fortunately we’re not all wonky lawyers. In this part, I’m going to discuss in economic terms why our licenses are exciting and why they lay the groundwork for a new frontier in economic activism.
In March 2017, I began working with CAL on a copyright license. Our intent was to create a license that could be used by anyone to condition the use of their copyrighted works on the user’s *contractually enforceable* promise to protect human rights and the environment across the supply chains in which the copyright is used. This is a three-part post is about the creation of the license, the discovery of some exciting new potential for intellectual property commons and economic activism, and the birth of a new folk hero of the commons named activistartmachine. You can shortcut to our software license here and our Creative Commons Plus license here.
So, it’s December 20. You meant to finish your Christmas shopping early this year, like you do every year, but then life happened and here you are. Again. You want to shop local, ethical, blah blah blah, but it’s too late to order from Etsy, you missed the renegade craft fair, and there is just nothing at Ten Thousand Villages your dad would tolerate. And let’s be serious, you don’t have time for hand-making gifts for 20 people.
Environmental and human rights activists and organizations have acquired some serious enemies. Most of us know that challenging the world’s most powerful corporations is a risky business, but how risky is it?