Sorry if I sound like a "broken record" about all this international stuff, but I really am intrigued by the United States government's seeming efforts to "export" a brand of copyright law that is less "balanced" than our own, and I have to wonder whether the plan is to then "re-import" it once it's firmly established elsewhere. But maybe, just maybe, I have it all wrong.
In celebration of World Intellectual Property Day, the U.S. State Department yesterday issued a statement under the heading "Copyright Violations Threaten Cultural Diversity; Local artists silenced when pirates steal revenues, industry representatives say":
Washington — Music, film and publishing industries from around the world lose billions of dollars annually due to inadequate legal protection of intellectual property, but the real victims might be struggling artists in developing countries, according to international organizations and government anti-piracy agencies.
And who are those "international organizations" so concerned about "cultural diversity" and the rights of "struggling artists in developing countries"? Among the most prominent cited are our own RIAA and MPAA. Indeed, copyright is "'a key tool for creating incentives for investment in the creation and distribution of cultural materials – and thereby promoting cultural diversity,' said Neil Turkewitz, executive vice president of the Recording Industry Association of America". Plus, while "American cultural products, such as music recordings and movies, are a frequent target, local industries and artists are the primary victims of inadequate law enforcement, industry associations say."
Good thing, then, that the "U.S. administration is leading an initiative called STOP – Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy -- to help protect intellectual property at home and abroad. It is posting specially trained prosecutors and FBI agents at American Embassies in Asia, Eastern Europe and other regions, and is working with other nations, the private sector and international organizations to promote strong intellectual property laws. Several U.S. government agencies, including the U.S. Patent Office, the Copyright Office, the Homeland Security Department, U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the FBI provide a variety of training and technical assistance programs on intellectual property protection for international participants."
Next up: Monday's issuance of this year's "Special 301 Report", in which the U.S. Trade Representative will outline the (in)adequacy and (in)effectiveness of intellectual property protections around the world and, no doubt, highlight our special concern for world music. Look for it here.