Pressuring Other Countries to Enforce Copyright to Be Part of US Foreign Policy

One of the major criticisms of the plaintiffs of The Pirate Bay trial is the heavy involvement of the United States. In Canada, many have said that the United States is exerting major pressure onto the country (some go as far as to say it’s bully tactics) to reform it’s copyright laws. Now, a new piece of legislation in the United States says that enforcing intellectual property rights in other countries could become enshrined in US law.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

There’s definitely heavy involvement from the United States in the case against The Pirate Bay, but could such a thing be more common if a new piece of legislation in the United States becomes law? Who knows? What we do know is this, IP Watch is reporting on H.R. 2410, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY 2010-2011 – mainly the section on enforcing intellectual property.

The legislation states that “The Secretary of State shall ensure that the protection in foreign countries of the intellectual property rights of United States persons in other countries is a significant component of United States foreign policy in general and in relations with individual countries.”

It further states, “The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service, shall appoint 10 intellectual property attaches to serve in United States embassies or other diplomatic missions. The 10 appointments shall be in addition to personnel serving, on the date of the enactment of this Act, in the capacity of intellectual property attaches from any department or agency of the United States at United States embassies or other diplomatic missions.”

That’s right, “Subject to paragraph (2), in designating the embassies or other missions to which attaches are assigned under subsection (b), the Secretary of State shall give priority to those countries where the activities of an attache may be carried out with the greatest potential benefit to reducing counterfeit and pirated products in the United States market, to protecting the intellectual property rights of United States persons and their licensees, and to protecting the interests of United States persons otherwise harmed by violations of intellectual property rights in those countries.”

No really, this is what you think it is, “The activities of intellectual property attaches under this section shall be carried out in coordination with the United States Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator appointed under section 301 of the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008 (15 U.S.C. 8111).”

As IP Watch says, the “bill [was] introduced into the US House of Representatives by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (Democrat, California) that would “enhance State Department resources and training for intellectual property enforcement efforts in countries not meeting their international obligations,” the Chamber said.”

Surely some people in other countries would object to the very idea that another country can dictate what the countries laws should be and how those laws should be enforced. We know there are plenty in Sweden that dislike the United States involvement in the daily affairs of Sweden. In Canada, Michael Geist noted that the language of the bill suggests that “Canada would be a likely target.”

So in the end, if (very likely) the legislation is passed, the next time United States representatives come in to your country and start pressuring lawmakers to pass seemingly draconian copyright laws, you can thank the law of the land in the United States for that.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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