Further to my post last week, I have columns today in the BBC and The Mark that discuss why the placement of Canada on the Priority Watch List may backfire. The BBC piece notes that several European countries – including Italy, Spain, Finland, and Israel – submitted briefs to the U.S. that were ignored. Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post has an editorial that provides further evidence that the inclusion of Canada on the Priority Watch List is being viewed around the world as reason to doubt the Special 301 Report itself. According to the editors, "there is increasing evidence it is a political tool, heavily influenced by wealthy US industries and used by Washington to impose protectionist trade policies." Exhibit One for this claim?
It could be in the seemingly absurd decision to place Canada in the top rank of worst offenders with China, Russia and Thailand. Canada has stolidly refused to ape the US government in enacting a punishing law protecting the movie and music distributors. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a blatantly anti-consumer law which has little to do with IP protection, and everything to do with stifling digital copying of material owned by huge and profitable companies which help to finance US political campaigns.
Thus Washington seems to be using its annual IP report to hammer nations to enact and enforce US IP laws, or suffer the consequences. This appears to be nothing but ham-handed protection of big businesses at the expense of free trade. The US Trade Representative must accept that there are many ways to protect IP rights, and cease its threats against those who take different courses.