Kirk: Trade Deals Boost U.S. Innovation

National Journal

A new law taking effect this week in the Bahamas, which would restore copyright protection for U.S. pay television content, is a small but important illustration of how ensuring respect for intellectual property and implementing trade commitments can create markets for American innovators, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Wednesday. The new law would provide legal protection against unauthorized broadcasts of American programming and, if properly implemented, could mean “that literally overnight, American cable companies will have a new export market for their shows.”

Kirk told a U.S. Chamber of Commerce IP conference that his team is committed to creating similar opportunities with the country’s larger trading partners as well as smaller ones. He said this can be accomplished with the help of tools like the USTR’s “Special 301” process, which has evolved into a year-round affair, not just an annual report card on the world’s worst IP offenders. The USTR on Wednesday launched five out-of-cycle Special 301 reviews that had been announced in April.

“We are committed to using the Special 301 process to highlight the need for reforms to address new challenges like Internet piracy, as we did this year with Canada, and also using the process to recognize meaningful progress, as we did this year with Korea,” Kirk said. He added that his is committed to robust and results-oriented dialogues to make progress on IP issues. In the coming weeks, Kirk will travel to China and India for bilateral meetings and IP will be an important component of those talks.

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