Senator Fido Wants To Create Official Ambassador For Hollywood's Interests
from the what-is-he-smoking dept
Senator Orrin Hatch has taken a back seat on various “intellectual property” issues in the past few years, as some other Senators have stepped up. But, for years, he was Hollywood’s “go to” Senator for bad legislation. One of the running gags throughout Rob Reid’s awesome novel Year Zero is how Senator Orrin Hatch is called “Senator Fido” because he’s “the entertainment industry’s pet Senator.” Among his list of bad ideas was a plan to destroy the computers of people accused of downloading, a bill called the PIRATE Act, which would have given the FBI authority over civil copyright infringement claims so they could go after your kids for downloading, and the infamous INDUCE Act, which would have made a ton of stuff illegal, including potentially iPods, FTP, 3D printers and much much more. When asked to defend such craziness, Hatch claimed that it might not work but it still needed to be done. Thankfully, it did not pass.
And while others in the Senate have been proposing bad IP bills over the past few years, Hatch is now back with a proposal to create a special US Ambassador position solely focused on expanding intellectual property around the globe. The so-called Innovation Through Trade Act (S.660) would create a “Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator” who would have the official rank of Ambassador.
Incredibly, Hatch claims that IP issues aren’t getting enough attention when it comes to trade policy.
“Intellectual property and innovation are the cornerstones of American competitiveness and job creation. Yet in recent years, they are all too often relegated to second tier status in our trade policy,” said Hatch. “With our economic competitors getting more sophisticated by the day, finding more ways to steal, expropriate or otherwise undermine the value of U.S. innovation, negotiating strong intellectual property agreements and enforcing them is a necessity, not an option. The establishment of a Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator will give intellectual property and innovation the stature they deserve. The Office will help guarantee that America remains at the forefront of innovation policy, that our trade agreements reflect the critical importance of intellectual property to our economy and that the preservation of high-standard IP protection and enforcement are at the forefront of every trade debate.”
Of course, all this really shows is how incredibly out of touch or corrupt Senator Hatch is. First, as we’ve seen from ACTA to TPP to TAFTA and a variety of other trade agreements in between, “IP” issues have been front and center for the USTR negotiating team. To claim that they have been relegated to “second tier status” is laughable — especially if you’re familiar with the history of such agreements. For years, IP wasn’t even considered a major issue for trade negotiations, until a few decades ago when the entertainment industry realized this was a good way to force Congress (and legislatures around the world) to adopt laws they wanted. And then it quickly became a key piece of every trade agreement.
It further shows just how incredibly out of touch Hatch is, because just as he’s proposing this bill, tons of public interest and civil service groups and organizations have explicitly called for the end to the practice of lumping patents, trademarks and copyrights into free trade agreements, since they really have no place there.
Finally, the idea that stronger IP laws will “guarantee that America remains at the forefront of innovation policy,” isn’t just wrong, it’s downright dangerous. Other countries have properly recognized that there is no link between IP and actual innovation, and that IP laws are really just a tool for protectionism against American companies.
Hatch fashions himself a “professional musician,” and so every so often he feels the need to throw off a favor or two to the RIAA — but this is ridiculous. Patents, trademarks and copyrights shouldn’t be international trade issues at all, and they already have way too much prominence in such discussions. Claiming they need to be elevated is the exact incorrect stance to take.