Reactions Split on IP Enforcement Strategy

The 2010 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement (PDF) issued by US. IP Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel yesterday has drawn a wide range of reactions from the public and business sectors.

Entertainment Software Association (ESA) President Michael Gallagher said that the trade group was “grateful for Ms. Espinel’s hard work to date, and appreciate the extent to which she has consulted with a wide range of stakeholders, including our industry.”

Gallagher added:

We also applaud the numerous federal departments and agencies that are committed to protecting intellectual property rights, here and in foreign markets – both of which are critical to our industry’s continuing growth and ability to deliver innovative entertainment experiences.

We look forward to reviewing this plan, and to doing our part to help the U.S. government succeed in its vital mission of protecting intellectual property. Because by protecting intellectual property, we’re protecting jobs.

Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow, however, wasn’t so impressed with the IP enforcement plan, specifically calling out three areas of the doctrine where the “U.S. is completely out to lunch.” The three sections in question are “secret treaty negotiations, watchlists of ‘pirate nations,’ and evaluating claims of losses due to piracy.”

Addressing the first area, Doctorow quotes a passage in which transparency, public engagement and outreach are mentioned countless times when referring to IP enforcement policy-making, all negated by a paragraph ending sentence that reads, “…including consideration of the need for confidentiality in international trade negotiations to facilitate the negotiation process.”

By including that last sentence, Doctorow wrote, “Espinel’s office is giving a free pass to the US Trade Rep to go on making obligations on behalf of the American government without Congressional oversight, public transparency, or access by the press.”

Doctorow calls the report’s acceptance of the 301 process “equally grave,” and of the report’s apparent acceptance of figures thrown around meant to assign a dollar value to losses from piracy, he writes:

I don’t see how the US government can propose to fix a problem if they don’t know how grave the problem is in the first place. If Espinel’s office spends millions of taxpayer dollars on this issue and the MPAA makes up a fresh set of imaginary piracy losses, do we have to start over again?

Meanwhile, a section in which Espinel refers to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) as the “USTR’s premier enforcement-related initiative,” caused Politico to wonder if such verbiage signaled that the “Obama administration plans to sail full-speed ahead on the treaty, despite the beckoning of some of its biggest tech allies.”

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