Could The Special 301 Report Be Useful? Proposed Law Would Broaden It To Condemn Internet Censorship

from the that-would-be-nice dept

For years, we've highlighted the USTR's silly "Special 301" report, in which it lists out "naughty" countries who aren't doing enough to meet Hollywood and the Pharma industry's definitions of what intellectual property laws should look like. This is based on no real methodology, other than that each year, the big industry associations submit filings to the USTR on which countries they don't like, and the USTR basically compiles them, and puts out a list of the "bad" countries. It's so ridiculous that Canada -- whose copyright law has been much more limiting than US law in many ways, but still gets put on the naughty list every year for not (until now) imposing digital locks provisions -- has an official policy not to recognize the legitimacy of the Special 301 report.

That said, as long as the USTR is putting together a list of "naughty" countries, why not make it actually a useful list? Senate Finance Committee boss Max Baucus has introduced a bill to normalize trade relations with Russia -- which has been a key concern of the committee for a while. Buried in the plan is something interesting:
In addition, the proposal amends section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974 by requiring that the report under section 182 include a description of laws, policies, or practices of the Russian Federation that deny fair and equitable treatment to U.S. digital trade.
This may not seem like much, but it could be a big deal. Section 182 of the Trade Act is also known as 19 USC § 2242, which basically sets up the Special 301 report.

So, basically, this little tidbit could shift the Special 301 report so that it doesn't just identify countries who Hollywood and Big Pharma don't like, but will also check to see if Russia is "denying fair and equitable treatment to US digital trade." What does that mean? Well, you may have noticed (as we did) that Russia just approved a new internet censorship bill, which certainly could deny "fair and equitable treatment" to certain digital goods.

Right now, it looks like (for unclear reasons) this provision is just limited to Russia, but if that works, it's not difficult to see it expanded globally. Wouldn't it be interesting if the USTR was actually forced to make the Special 301 report useful, by not just having it focus on intellectual property issues, but also on whether or not a country was censoring the internet and blocking useful internet services?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    rw (profile), Jul 18th, 2012 @ 9:29am

    The problem with this is the US will have to put itself on the "bad" list.

     

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  2.  
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    Mesonoxian Eve (profile), Jul 18th, 2012 @ 10:34am

    Damn rw beat me to it, but kudos anyway.

    I've a feeling many of us will have this similar thought.

     

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  3.  
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    Glen, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 10:45am

    Re:

    You beat me to it. Well played sir.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 10:46am

    Double-escaped HTML entity

    In article:

    ...also known as 19 USC &Sect; 2242


    Should be § and it looks like you have §. If your CMS is PHP, the htmlentities() function has had a flag to prevent "double escaping" (as above) since 5.2.3. HTH :)

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 10:46am

    Re:

    Solution: rm rw_comment.txt

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 10:47am

    On the other hand, "providing fair and equitable treatment to U.S. digital trade" might be a euphemism for "signing ACTA".

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 10:47am

    Re: Double-escaped HTML entity

    The HTML entities in my post got parsed. :P

    First was &-sect; and second was &-amp;sect; (without dashes).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Jul 18th, 2012 @ 10:48am

    Re: Double-escaped HTML entity

    I was hoping they were using Wordpress, but alas...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 10:51am

    So, if this expands to include others beyond Russia, the US is potentially going to have a list of countries that either censor the web or don't censor the web? I think Wakko Warner has already put that list of countries to song.

     

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  10.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 18th, 2012 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re:

    I'd guess most of us, except for the usual td critics, thought exactly that just by reading the headline.

    What would be left for debate is if the US would place itself above or below China in the list ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 18th, 2012 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: Re: H Abe!

    Does honesty count? China's pretty honest about their censorship laws... the US likes to pretend they never censor anything.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re: Double-escaped HTML entity

    Probably that buggy sentence squeezer again. :P

     

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  13.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 18th, 2012 @ 11:10am

    Question answered...

    "Right now, it looks like (for unclear reasons) this provision is just limited to Russia"

    Unclear? Perhaps you haven't noticed yet, but Congress is generally somewhere between 15-30 years behind the general public it "serves" (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!) on EVERYTHING.

    Thus, Russia is still the number one foreign rival (Just ask Mitt Romney), Movie/Music CDs MUST be protected (Just ask Barack Obama), and gay people are icky (Just ask an unfortunately large number of...well...everyone in government).

    Meanwhile, the general public knows our rival is China and Pakistan, movies and music can be made to magically appear on all kinds of shit, and if gay people want to get married most of the public couldn't care less.

    I swear, our government is one of those "who is walking who, the dog or the owner" questions....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 18th, 2012 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: H Abe!

    Ok, then China comes below.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 18th, 2012 @ 11:18am

    Re:

    The problem with this is the US will have to put itself on the "bad" list.


    The problem is that EVERYONE would be on the list except the US, which would be serene in its own Goldilocks Zone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 18th, 2012 @ 11:25am

    Re: Question answered...

    Your Government is walking you with a pretty tight yet subtle leash.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 11:34am

    Re: Question answered...

    Thus, Russia is still the number one foreign rival...


    Russian nuclear forces, 2012”, by Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norrism Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

    Abstract

     . . . the two authors estimate that Russia has more than 4,400 nuclear warheads assigned to its military forces that are undergoing widespread modernization.


    Chinese nuclear forces, 2011” by Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
    Abstract

     . . . The authors estimate that China has a total inventory of approximately 240 nuclear warheads.


    Pakistan's nuclear forces, 2011” by Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris,Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
    Abstract

     . . . Pakistan's nuclear weapons stockpile could reach 150 - 200 warheads in a decade.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 11:36am

    I don't see how it would benifit anyone to add censorship to the list along side lack of IP enforcement as if they're similar things that should be rank together.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 18th, 2012 @ 11:44am

    Re: Re: Question answered...

    .....And? Nations with nuclear weapons, particularly those with large stockpiles of them, are not a threat generally speaking.

    With two rather notorious exceptions, nuclear weapons have always been a defensive weapon ensuring the minimalization of war, not an offensive threat....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Question answered...

    .....And?


    Russia is still the tops. Crème de la crème. Number one, baby, all the way.     Number one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Hulu, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 12:03pm

    Larry Page has thyroid cancer, had surgery, and is now nowhere to be found. Can't speak, can't work, can't do diddly shit. Larry Page should head to Australia with all the other shithead Jews.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Frizzy, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 12:04pm

    Thyroid cancer got Larry Page and Parkinsons is getting Sergey Brin. Two unhealthy and ugly techies. So what else is new?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Question answered...

    Thinking that nuclear weapons is indicative of rivalry with the US is 15-30 year old thinking. Thank-you for the clear and well articulated example of stuck in the past congress critter thinking.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Question answered...

    Ah yes, the 'yes it does! yes it does! I can't hear you *sticksfingersinears LALALALALA!' defense.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 18th, 2012 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Question answered...

    To be fair, it's one of my favorite defenses too....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    RD, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Question answered...

    "Unclear? Perhaps you haven't noticed yet, but Congress is generally somewhere between 15-30 years behind the general public it "serves" (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!) on EVERYTHING."

    But isn't it interesting, DH, how those same clueless congresspeople can suddenly serve the interests of their real bosses, the corporations and lobbyists, in an immediate and attentive manner when it's their interests pitted against the public's.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 18th, 2012 @ 1:50pm

    Re:

    "Larry Page should head to Australia with all the other shithead Jews."

    Way to show your ass, you idiot. Even on a tech blog you racist cock-sandwiches have to rear your un-intellectual heads, eh?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Re:

    Er, is jew a race? "anti semite" is the correct term for the dirtbag you're replying to

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2012 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Question answered...

    ... stuck in the past...


    LIFE, “Nevada Ghosts: Rare Pictures of an A-Bomb Test

    Article with 22 photos. First photo is from the May 16, 1955 issue of LIFE magazine, and was originally captioned:
    "Scorched, male mannequin in suit of dark fabric indicates a human would be burned but alive."
    Second photo also from May 16, 1955 issue:
    "Burned up except for face, this mannequin ... was 7,000 feet [one and a quarter miles] from blast."
    Some of the other photos were previously unpublished. The text accompanying the LIFE “Nevada Ghosts” photospread points out, “The test was not especially noteworthy.”

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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