USTR's Surprise Turnaround: Now Advocating Limitations & Exceptions To Copyright
from the who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-ron-kirk? dept
In a somewhat surprising turnaround, the USTR has now admitted that it is actively embracing limitations and exceptions in its latest proposal around IP for TPP:
For the first time in any U.S. trade agreement, the United States is proposing a new provision, consistent with the internationally-recognized “3-step test," that will obligate Parties to seek to achieve an appropriate balance in their copyright systems in providing copyright exceptions and limitations for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. These principles are critical aspects of the U.S. copyright system, and appear in both our law and jurisprudence. The balance sought by the U.S. TPP proposal recognizes and promotes respect for the important interests of individuals, businesses, and institutions who rely on appropriate exceptions and limitations in the TPP region.Given the USTR's general lack of transparency and intellectually insulting attitude towards anyone who questions TPP and ACTA transparency, I don't trust the USTR on its commitment to this... but I have been hearing from multiple sources that the protests against SOPA and ACTA have had a big impact on the administration's thinking on intellectual property issues... and that the MPAA/RIAA folks are not at all happy about the latest version of the USTR's IP chapter. There have also been multiple assurances that the USTR will fight strongly to make sure that this language on exceptions remains in the agreement, even if some of its "advisers" from the legacy content industry don't like it. That suggests that maybe, just maybe, some voices of reason have gotten through to the USTR.
All that said, this requires very close scrutiny. And, of course, there's all sorts of things that can be hidden in the language -- which, of course, the USTR still has not revealed. In the interest of openness and making sure that these provisions actually are in the best interest of the public, it would be nice to actually have the USTR live up to its transparency commitments and publish the specific text that relates to these limitations and exceptions. On top of that, the so-called "3-step test" that the USTR mentions is somewhat limited (and a bit antiquated) in these modern times with an internet where things like mashups and remixing occur on a daily basis. It would obviously be a lot nicer if we actually moved forward with our limitations and exceptions to copyright law to bring them into the 21st century -- but having the USTR actually acknowledge such limitations and exceptions as an important part of the IP chapter on TPP is a huge (almost monumental) step forward.
Either way -- and I know that some people will never trust anything from the USTR considering how many bridges it has burned -- the USTR deserves at least some kudos for taking this surprising step, and hopefully it continues to recognize that this is an important issue. With further exploration, and further acknowledgement that the MPAA/RIAA's view of thew world is not the only one, perhaps the USTR can recognize that setting up a maximalist/protectionist plan does not help the US, the economy or creativity. Enabling a more functional system, including knocking down the barriers that copyright sometimes sets up, is a much more effective path.