The 301 scam

Enrique Dans. Professor. IE Business School

30 April 2013

The US content lobby is once again pressuring Spain by threatening to include it on its list of countries whose intellectual property laws jeopardize US trade.

This year the US content lobby is once again pressuring to get Spain back on its 301 list. In theory, this is a list of countries whose intellectual property law gives US trade interests cause for concern.

In reality the 301 list is a trick, a scam, and the threats that the US industry is making to defend a talibanesque vision from a bygone age of a country that has no qualms about “adjusting” its intellectual property law to whatever Disney, Hollywood or music companies want. A country which just happens to extend the duration of author’s rights every time Mickey Mouse is about to appear in the public domain, and aims to “shame” anyone who claims that intellectual property law should be brought up to speed with the new digital environment.

If we take a map and shade in the countries that the intellectual property lobbies has on its list, the shaded parts would cover far more of the world than non-shaded regions. If the US intends to sanction all the countries on the list, it will automatically cut itself off from international trade.  It is futile to “threaten” countries like Canada, Finland, Norway, Chile, Israel, and Italy, and many more that have never been sanctioned after years on the list. Threatening to sanction China, when the US could not actually sanction even if it wanted to, is just plain stupid.

It is ridiculous to take political decisions based on a list which is, in reality, a scam. Being on the 301 list should be a badge of honor. It means being a country that intends to adapt its intellectual property law to the current scenario and transform antiquated industries that exploit artists without a second thought. No country in its right mind should aspire to manage intellectual property like the US does, because it is not a legitimate or sane choice. If the US wants to permit companies that are stuck in the stone age to write its laws, let them get on with it. As long as they take their scams elsewhere. 


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