USTR Special 301 Report out again… same old same old.

So, quick break from my self-imposed hiatus to mention the near-worthless Special 301 Report put out annually by the United States Trade Representative. This report has been part of a trend of increasingly using trade pressure to convince countries to come up stronger copyright and related laws. It reads like a special interest wish list; it essentially praises the creation of barriers that are even in excess of what the US imposes on itself (see Spain’s recent actions, lauded in the report, also the result of undue US pressure).

Canadian Professor Michael Geist’s 2010 response is still appropriate- and he’s written another great analysis for this year’s report.

We’re never going to have a real conversation in the political sphere as things stand. We should be talking about relationships between authors, publishers, and distributors in the digital environment. We should be talking about the appropriateness of copyright-related remedies and their impacts on our society. We should be talking about the costs of access to scientific literature. We should be talking about authors’ rights in a meaningful way. Although we’re having those conversations, they’re mostly not initiated by policy makers. Instead, we get junk like this. We get secretive trade treaties where the public and public groups are left out of the discussion entirely. We get an environment where real meaningful dialog is absent.