WASHINGTON (April 20, 2015) – The R Street Institute expressed reservations today about H.R. 1890, better known as the “Trade Promotion Authority” bill, introduced April 17 by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Companion legislation, S. 995, also has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Finance Committee. The bills mirror legislation introduced last year by Hatch and former Sen. Baucus, D-Mont.
As written, the TPA proposal – which would grant the executive branch the right to “fast track” trade negotiations – requires stringent intellectual property protection and enforcement, but does not offer balance to reflect other parts of U.S. copyright law upon which the Internet sector depends.
“Although R Street supports TPA legislation in principle, we’re strongly concerned about how it may affect digital copyright in practice, and whether it will affect how ordinary citizens lawfully use copyrighted works,” said Mike Godwin, general counsel and director of innovation policy at R Street. “Current TPA language stresses ‘strong’ enforcement measures, but doesn’t mention important exceptions and limitations that apply under our copyright laws.”
Such exceptions could include access for the blind and disabled, fair use or temporary copies as required by computers, cloud services and other lawful digital uses. While TPA legislation should not go further than current U.S. copyright law, any such legislation that fails to export all of these other aspects of U.S. law internationally would be incomplete.
“Our government’s TPA and its treaty negotiations need to reflect the needs of all stakeholders, including technology companies and ordinary users,” Godwin said. “The current language seems to suggest that only copyright holders’ interests matter.”