Public Submissions to U.S. Special 301 IP report ends February 7
What is Special 301?
When Intellectual Property protection was pushed into trade rules, the U.S. created a unilateral policy of enforcement. Every year the U.S. Trade Representatives rate every country’s level of Intellectual Property protection, such as creating law to punish file sharing or making sure the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) gets its money. If a country is deemed to have weak enforcement, then the U.S. can pressure them to adjust with the threat of sanctions or removing what is known as “Generalized System of Preferences”, which gives less developed country beneficial trade allowance. Of course, if this does not work they can actually enact the sanctions as has been done in the past.
This power was naturally pushed for by the Intellectual Property lobby, notably the copyright and pharmaceutical industries. As they wanted a means to bring the U.S. government to enforce protection on their products overseas, public submissions are accepted to give suggestions on the report. Naturally, the most weighty opinions are from these same industries, but others are free to submit as well. Nothing will likely come of them (the report is almost a copy of copyright and pharmaceutical suggestions) but it will register as a strong disapproval for the system.
Map showing the “offenders” in the report:
As you can see Ukraine is currently considered the worse offender of the report. The reasons for this are inability to stop online piracy, inability to assure music purchase payment to copyright holders, and governmental use of unlicensed software. With a per capita GDP of under $4000 Ukraine is sent the message that it needs to spend much more attention and money on ensuring payment to the corporate elite. Ukraine is not alone as the worse “offenders” are those who cannot, or have no rational interest to divert law enforcement funds.
Many Pirate Parties will find their country on the list, so here is a chance to petition the U.S. directly. Currently the Intellectual Property Lobbyists are very uncontested, so here we can voice our disapproval. However, I suggest not spending too much time on it as the government ear is very much glued to the mouth of Big Business.
You can find the call for public submissions here.