ITIF, the think tank that was often credited with coming up with the basic idea behind SOPA's horrifying plan to censor websites and break key parts of the basic DNS system (and, which we recently discovered, gets funding
from the MPAA) is back and pushing for support of IP maximalism in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. It has re-released a report about how the TPP must be "the gold standard" in trade agreements
-- with a key focus on stronger and more limiting IP rules. In a press release about this re-release, ITIF argues for a strong maximalist agenda in the TPP:
Entering into a sub-standard Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that offers only weak intellectual property (IP) protections or permits countries to maintain mercantilist practices would be far worse than not joining the agreement
Of course, that's hilarious, because there's nothing more mercantilist in trade policy today than intellectual property rights. The basic concepts -- developed at the height of mercantilist fervor -- are all about protectionism for legacy players in the space. To argue in favor of stronger IP and against mercantilism makes no sense, because it's self-contradictory. Either ITIF is completely clueless on basic economics, or it's being intellectually dishonest. I can't tell which is worse.
U.S. trade negotiators should insist the TPP include the highest levels of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, transparency in government procurement practices, removal of non-tariff barriers (NTBs), comprehensive market access provisions, and stringent enforcement mechanisms.
What's bizarre here is that, right after calling for IP maximalism, they immediately call for the removal of barriers and an increase in market access. You know what would actually do that? Ratcheting back
the excesses of copyright and patent law. It's difficult to see how anyone can take ITIF seriously when they argue against themselves.