A recently announced bill in the US would create a “Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator”, but critics charge that this is merely a Hollywood ambassador to the world.
You can be forgiven if you had to re-check the URL to make sure you weren’t reading an article from The Onion when you saw this headline. The US Senate Senate Committee on Finance has published a press release detailing a bill introduced by Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). The position would be created thanks to the introduced legislation Innovation Through Trade Act, S. 660. From the press release:
Specifically, the Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator would:
– Reflect the importance of intellectual property to the U.S. economy, vigorously representing the interests of U.S. workers, manufacturers, service providers, innovators and content creators;
– Conduct trade negotiations and enforce trade agreements relating to United States intellectual property and take appropriate actions to address acts, policies, and practices of foreign governments that have a significant adverse impact on the value of United States innovation; and
– Provide input into a new statutory report to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee on actions undertaken by the United States Trade Representative to advance U.S. innovation and intellectual property rights interest and enforcement actions taken to protect those interests.
You can read the bill itself on GovTrack which has a link to the full text of the bill as well as the bills current progress.
Here’s a sample of the bill itself:
‘(2) There shall be in the Office three Deputy United States Trade Representatives, one Chief Agricultural Negotiator, and one Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator, who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. As an exercise of the rulemaking power of the Senate, any nomination of a Deputy United States Trade Representative, the Chief Agricultural Negotiator, or the Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent, and referred to a committee, shall be referred to the Committee on Finance. Each Deputy United States Trade Representative, the Chief Agricultural Negotiator, and the Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator shall hold office at the pleasure of the President and shall have the rank of Ambassador.’
The principal functions of the Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator shall be to conduct trade negotiations and to enforce trade agreements relating to United States intellectual property and to take appropriate actions to address acts, policies, and practices of foreign governments that have a significant adverse impact on the value of United States innovation. The Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator shall be a vigorous advocate on behalf of United States innovation and intellectual property interests. The Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator shall perform such other functions as the United States Trade Representative may direct.’.
Critics have blasted the proposal by saying that it would make bad trade policy worse. The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) issued a response to this proposal:
Copyright laws that represent the one-sided concerns of Hollywood at the expense of the broader public interest do not belong in trade agreements. Period.
Yet just days after dozens of public interest groups around the world issued called on the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to keep copyright and patent regulations out of a new international trade agreement, a Senator with longstanding ties to the entertainment industry introduced a misguided bill that would create a new position for a “Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator” â€” in other words, an Ambassador from Hollywood, paid for by the general public.
This proposal stands in stark opposition to our public petition for the U.S. Trade Rep to stop backroom negotiations in international trade agreements.
Given the utter lack of transparency and absence of public input in almost all other trade agreements, we have no reason to believe that this new position would improve the broken balance in copyright or patent law. Rather, it is an effort to entrench “intellectual property” as a policy matter that should be decided in secret trade meetings that have so far been shrewd in deflecting all democratic oversight.
Already, major rightsholders from the US have a large amount of representation in the US government itself. They already have USTR to parrot the rightsholders demands to the world through the now widely discredited Special 301 report. In addition, they are also represented Chamber of Commerce. On top of it all, there is an additional Copyright Czar to further represent the interests of major rightsholders. It seems as though this isn’t enough and rightsholders are wanting more representation in government to further their interests.