New IP Watchlist Ranks Countries On How Well Their Copyright Laws Serve The Public
from the alternative-to-the-special-301 dept
We’ve written plenty about the absolutely ridiculous Special 301 Report put out each year by the USTR. It’s a list that the US uses to name and shame countries that it considers “naughty” when it comes to not passing intellectual property laws that the US likes. Of course, there is no actual methodology behind the list. Basically, various industry groups (i.e., RIAA, MPAA, PHRMA etc.) send in their thoughts about which countries they don’t like, and the USTR magically takes their complaints and produces the list. This leads to bizarre things like naming Canada one of the worst of the worst, despite having stricter copyright laws than the US already.
Consumers International has decided that there’s no reason that the USTR gets to have all the fun, so it’s been releasing its own IP Watchlist ranking countries based on how pro- or anti-consumer local IP laws. In other words, Consumer International judges IP laws around the globe based on IP’s actual purpose: to benefit the public. The actual report (pdf and embedded below) is a good read.
The US actually does fairly well. We’re helped along by the fact that we actually have things like “fair use” in the law. The UK, however, comes in near the bottom. The report also highlights the ridiculousness of pushing stronger enforcement in some of the poorest countries in the world:
Malawi is a politically-troubled, least-developed country where more than half of the population lives below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day. One would have thought that IP enforcement should take a back seat in such a country, in favour of measures designed to ensure the satisfaction of the population’s basic needs of food, water, clothing, shelter, and medical care.
Yet Malawi was one of four poor countries in which Interpol chose to conduct an anti-counterfeiting campaign in 2009, and in which the local police often join IP-holder organisations in conducting copyright raids against local traders. Is this noholds-barred, developed-country model of IP protection and enforcement truly the most appropriate model for countries like Malawi?
It’s worth noting, by the way, that the top three countries on Consumer International’s list — Israel, Indonesia and India — were also on the USTR’s Special 301 “Priority Watch List” as having the worst IP regimes last year. But, as Consumer International shows, they actually have the best IP regimes when it comes to serving the needs of the public. That seems to show just how ridiculous the USTR’s Special 301 list really is.