Should you wish to join in support of this statement, I would suggest you file your own as a statement referring to mine. I would greatly appreciate your doing so. Follow the procedure suggested by Public Knowledge link here
RE: 2010 Special 301 Review Docket Number USTR-2010-0003
Jennifer Choe Groves Senior Director for Intellectual Property and Innovation and Chair of the Special 301 Committee Office of the United States Trade Representative 600 17th Street NW Washington, DC 20508 Filed electronically via Regulations.gov
Dear Ms. Groves:
I write, basing my comments on copyright, by referring to Section 8 of Article 1 of the Constitution which states: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
Copyright has been repeatedly extended with doubtful justification. If the author sells the rights to future incomes, the present value of each year's future income from copyright declines rapidly, approaching zero. The buyer of those rights gets little inducement to increase his payment for them. Thus, beyond ten years, copyright is not an inducement to create and is no longer consistent with our Constitution.
Moreover, the existence of copyright makes the creation of newly inspired derivative works unattractive because of the risk of being sued, even if unsuccessful, given the costs of litigation.
Finally, legal suits over copyright are a huge cost to the economy, as is the continual cost of lobbying for more favorable legislation by the large holders of copyrights. This has only gotten worse in recent years, as the potential gains from resort to law increase. This is particularly true in cases where the law is unsettled, as so often happens when courts or legislation make small changes in the law and its interpretation.
The lawsuits are made increasingly expensive by pressure to get courts to change the interpretation of the law and by seeking trial in districts where the courts have been found increasingly responsive to plaintiffs.
This analysis has been derived independently by a group of 17 eminent economists voiced in an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court in Eldred v Ashcroft (http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/openlaw/eldredvashcroft/supct/amici/economists.pdf)
This brings me to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). It is an anti-democratic outrage, not to have published the terms of the draft agreement and suggests to the skeptical that the USTR is engaged in a shady deal which will not stand the light of public disclosure and discussion. One must assume that we are trying to browbeat our trading partners into accepting terms that they are resisting rather than examining the pluses and minuses of such an agreement for each of the concerned parties.
Ultimately, it is a good thing if our laws and those of our trading partners are consistent. It is not a good thing however, to extend the term of copyright beyond, say, ten years, either to get consistency or to get a deal which is contrary to the broad interests of the American public or the clear meaning of the Constitution.
John T Bennett