FSF submits comment in USTR Special 301 Review
Like we mentioned yesterday, we filed a comment in the U.S. Trade Representative's Special 301 Review.
The Special 301 Review is a process that the USTR undertakes every year to review the enactment and enforcement of copyright, patent, and trademark laws throughout the world. The office then produces a report placing countries on a Watch List—or even a Priority Watch List—if the USTR feels the laws and enforcement aren't forceful enough.
Traditionally, this process has been tailor-made for the big copyright industries. They submit long comments detailing exactly how they want other countries to be as deferential to them as ours is. As a result, the final report has been a diplomatic tool that the U.S. government uses to encourage foreign countries to enact laws that are as outrageously bad for freedom as its own, like longer terms for copyright protection and DMCA-like legislation.
Our comment tells the USTR that this cycle can't go on. These laws compel computer users into making unethical choices and hinder the development of free software worldwide. And that's bad for trade, too: commerce suffers as device manufacturers are prevented from using free software, and free software conferences move elsewhere to avoid legal trouble for attendees. The USTR shouldn't be pushing for these laws, whether through the Special 301 Report, trade agreements like ACTA, or other means.
You can read our comment online. The deadline for submitting comments has been extended to 5:00 PM US Eastern Time (22:00 UTC) on February 18th, so if you haven't already submitted anything, there's still time to have your say. Just follow the instructions on the USTR site to let them know how restrictive copyright laws hurt free software, and everyone suffers as a result.