USTR Will Listen To The Public On Creating Its 'IP Axis Of Evil' List?

from the let's-wait-and-see... dept

Among copyright experts and copyright policy folks, it seems widely recognized that the US Trade Rep’s “Special 301” review process has been a massive joke. Last year, at an event discussing copyright, even folks from the US Copyright Office laughed off the Special 301 report. Historically, what it’s been is the entertainment industry putting together a list of countries that don’t have draconian enough copyright laws, and it gets the USTR to complain about them and put them on a “watch list” of sorts. Pretty much everyone who understands these issues knows it’s a complete joke, but unfortunately there are lots of people who don’t understand these issues, and it lets diplomats and politicians make laughable claims like saying that Canada is a hub for piracy — and the press almost never questions where that information came from because it sounds all official.

So it’s nice to hear that apparently the USTR is opening up the Special 301 review process to the public (slightly) in not just asking for written input, but also holding a public hearing for the first time ever (via Michael Geist). That said, I’m not convinced this will really make a huge difference. Since this is a discussion about what foreign countries are doing with their copyright laws that doesn’t directly affect most of the American public directly (though we can be concerned about the fallout). So who’s going to take part? The usual suspects form the industry will, asking for increased protectionism designed entirely to prop up their business models, rather than actually looking at a country’s copyright laws. But will others really have enough to say? KEI plans to submit something, and does a good job cautiously praising the slightly more open process, but worrying about whether it will actually make a difference.

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Comments on “USTR Will Listen To The Public On Creating Its 'IP Axis Of Evil' List?”

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Emilio says:

Guilt Trip

Every time a news story like this crops up, I worry about Europeans hearing about these efforts of the recording and movie industries (dressed up to sound like they’re efforts by the US Government) to get all sorts of draconian treaties and legislation passed in their countries, and equate that greedy nastiness with ‘America’ and ‘Americans’. I feel the need to somehow let all Europeans know how despicable we Americans find it too, though most of us are essentially powerless to do anything about it…

Chris Brand says:

Guilt Trip

Well, Emilio, I guess this is the opportunity for those of us who don’t live in the US to find out what Americans in general feel about it. If there are vast numbers of submissions from Americans pointing out that the copyright laws abroad are generally pretty reasonable (often giving both less protection to rightsholders and less “fair use”-type rights to users, for example, or recognising that the copyright law that makes sense for a net exporter of copyrighted material doesn’t also make sense for a net importer), then we’ll know that it really is just these narrow self-interest groups. If most Americans don’t bother, that will indicate at least implicit support for the export of intermediary-designed copyright law to the rest of the world.

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