US to pressure NZ into copyright compliance?

, posted: 15-Feb-2007 10:33

New Zealand has earnt itself a "Special Mention" (link goes to an Adobe PDF document) in the International Intellectual Property Alliance's 2007 Special 301 Report it seems.

The IIPA is a private sector lobby group comprising some 1,900 US copyright holders, and it "works closely" with the US Trade Representative to produce the so-called Special 301 reports annually. Ostensibly, the Special 301 Report only examines the state of IP protection around the world for American entities:

The Special 301 provisions call upon the United States Trade Representative to identify countries which, inter alia, “deny adequate and effective protection” to U.S. intellectual property or deny “fair and equitable market access” to U.S. persons who rely on intellectual property protection.

... but in reality, the Special 301 forms part of US trade policy. An entry on the Special 301 Watch List for a country makes for interesting "Free Trade Agreement" negotiations with the US, and is likely to bring to bear diplomatic pressure from the US government as well.

You might think that third-world countries where the rule of law is weak would be on top of the Special 301 lists of "Pirate Nations". However, Canada is on Priority Watch List, and Israel, Italy and Spain feature on the presumably lower priority Watch List.

This year, New Zealand only gets a Special Mention by the IIPA, but it has been on the Watch List five non-consecutive years in the past. We get that special mention because the proposed Copyright legislation "falls far short of minimum international standards."

What will happen next? Well, the IIPA is pushing the US government to "engage actively with New Zealand to seek a satisfactory resolution of issues".

In other words, the US government is likely to pressure New Zealand lawmakers into writing the Copyright Act to the IIPA's liking. Just about everything needs tightening up according to the IIPA: ensuring Technological Protection Measures cannot be bypassed under any circumstances, increase ISPs' liabilities, narrowly circumscribe remote access of content for libraries and... ban camcorders in cinemas and public performances.
There's some evidence that the IIPA sees itself as the "World IP Cop", a supranational organisation that transcends national boundaries and the law of other countries. Here are some of the things the IIPA engage in, to "help" the world comply with US IP legislation:

Continue to coordinate enforcement training, including localized training and capacity building that demonstrates the benefits of deterrent enforcement.
• Foster further coordination among and between U.S. agencies, industry, and international organizations with training resources;
• Create “best enforcement practices” models, including legislative provisions and specific and practical reforms at the police, prosecutorial and judicial levels. These would be based on the TRIPS text and the U.S. FTA models, but with far greater detail to assist the enforcement authorities. This could include recommendations for “zero tolerance” policies against retail piracy and specific actions to be taken in the area of Internet piracy. It should include model sentencing guidelines that would help the authorities assess what penalties will actually deter pirates;
• Set specific enforcement targets for countries in bilateral negotiations.

Reading the IIPA Special 301 Report makes it easier to understand why the New Zealand copyright legislation has taken so long and also why the original, 2001 discussion paper seems to have disappeared from the present Bill. It'll be interesting to see what happens at the Select Committee stage: will the MPs hold fast, or sell our sovereignty down the river to placate the IIPA?

Other related posts:
Over 1,000,000 torrents of downloadable books, music and movies
Megaupload and the US grand jury
Filesonic disables file sharing; due to MegaUpload?

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