US State Department Pressuring Foreign Countries Into Taking SOPA Global

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 5 2012 9:38 AM

US State Department Pressuring Foreign Countries Into Taking SOPA Global

One check on the kind of blatant exercise of political clout to entrench incumbent business models represented by the so-called Stop Online Privacy Act is that both of the key industries impacted, high-tech and Hollywood, are competing in a global market place. A country that tries to stifle technology in order to prop up obsolete content business models is only going to find that its offerings in both fields eventually shrivel in the face of competition from products developed elsewhere. But the United States of America is a great power and the same industries that are often able to bend congress to its will in enacting increasingly draconian intellectual property laws have also succeeded over the past 15 years in getting large swathes of the executive branch to essentially act as their foreing lobbying agents in trying to strong-arm other countries into mimicking our own misguided policies. Spain, for example, recently passed controversial SOPA-style legislation in part under pressure from the US State Department:

As TorrentFreak explains, leaked letters reveal that the US Ambassador to Spain put pressure on the country’s government to push through the legislation, called the Sinde Law, threatening to add Spain to the Special 301 Report Priority Watch list of countries the US thinks is not doing enough to protect intellectual property rightsholders against piracy. Other countries on the list include China, Russia and, perhaps surprisingly, Canada.
Being on this list can lead to trade sanctions being imposed, blocking a country from exporting certain goods to the US if it is deemed to not be taking action the US believes appropriate for protecting copyright holders. With Spain’s economy far from healthy right now, that’s a potentially serious problem.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing has become a larger and larger aspect of American "trade" policy where we try to offer the carrot of access to U.S. markets in exchange for foreign countries strengthening IP protections. Lost in all of this is the fact that nobody can explain what the alleged online piracy problem consists of. Americans aren't under-entertained. The past decade has seen the highest-quality television ever produced. There are plenty of movies to watch and albums to listen to.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 22 2014 8:07 AM Why Haven’t the Philadelphia Eagles Ever Won a Super Bowl?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 8:08 AM Slate Voice: “Why Is So Much Honey Clover Honey?” Mike Vuolo shares the story of your honey.
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 7:47 AM Predicting the Future for the U.S. Government The strange but satisfying work of creating the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends report.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 22 2014 5:30 AM MAVEN Arrives at Mars
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.