February 20, 2007

Geist on the IIPA Report [3:43 pm]

US copyright lobby out-of-touch

The International Intellectual Property Alliance, an association that brings together US lobby groups representing the movie, music, software, and publisher industries, last week delivered its annual submission to the US government featuring its views on the inadequacy of intellectual property protection around the world.

The report frequently serves as a blueprint for the US Trade Representative’s Section 301 Report, a government-mandated annual report that carries the threat of trade barriers for countries that fail to meet the US standard of IP protection.

The IIPA submission generated considerable media attention, with the international media focusing on the state of IP protection in Russia and China, while national media in Canada, Thailand, and Taiwan broadcast dire warnings about the consequences of falling on the wrong side of US lobby groups.

While the UK was spared inclusion on this year’s list, what is most noteworthy about the IIPA effort is that dozens of countries - indeed most of the major global economies in the developed and developing world - are singled out for criticism.

[...] Given the US experience [with its implementation of the WIPO Internet Treaties], it is unsurprising that many countries have experimented with alternate implementations.

This experimentation invariably leads to heavy criticism from the IIPA as countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Switzerland, Hong Kong, South Korea, Israel, Mexico, and India are all taken to task for their implementation (or proposed implementation) of anti-circumvention legislation.

Further, countries that have not signed or ratified the WIPO Internet treaties (which still includes the majority of the world), face the wrath of the US lobby group for failing to do so.

Second, in a classic case of “do what I say, not what I do”, many countries are criticised for copyright laws that bear a striking similarity to US law. For example, Israel is criticised for considering a fair use provision that mirrors the US approach.

The IIPA is unhappy with the attempt to follow the US model, warning that the Israeli public might view it as a “free ticket to copy.” Similarly, the time shifting provisions in New Zealand’s current copyright reform bill (which would permit video recording of television shows) are criticised despite the fact that US law has granted even more liberal copying rights for decades.

The most disturbing illustration of this double standard is the IIPA’s criticism of compulsory copyright licensing requirements.

[...] Third, the IIPA recommendations criticise dozens of efforts to support national education, privacy, and cultural initiatives.

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