In yet another unilaterally decided list, a caucus of US Congressmen have named India as one of four countries on their “International Creativity and Theft-prevention Caucus Watchlist”. The other three countries named are China, Russia and (surprisingly) Switzerland. The Congressmen include Bob Goodlatte, a co-author and sponsor of the infamous SOPA bill.
For India, they state,
“Despite a large domestic creative industry in film, music, and other copyright intensive industries, India continues to lag badly in both the legal framework for protection of IP and enforcement priorities. Among the continuing issues in India are extremely high rates of camcording piracy, high levels of unlicensed software use by enterprises, and a lack of effective notice-and-takedown procedures for online piracy.”
(See page 3 of the report here)
Before acknowledging the report itself though, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the name of this report – “The International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus Watchlist”. In their words, this new name they’ve chosen for themselves ‘better describes the fundamental mission of the Caucus’. Two small points to make – (1) the carefully hyphenated name seems a little ambitious though – in appointing itself as the caucus for “International Creativity”! I suppose it does make it sound grander though; and (2) I didn’t see anything at all about ‘theft-prevention’ in the watchlist. They seem to be continuing their oft repeated mistake of mixing up copyright infringement with loss of physical property.
Coming to the report itself – first off – Yes, there is lots of copyright infringement in India. At least that’s what the popular narrative tells me and I (genuinely) have no reason to believe otherwise. But other than the paragraph above, there are precisely 2 sentences about India – which first vaguely asserts that India presents a seriously flawed environment for the promotion of copyright and IP, and then states that the USTR’s Special 301 has also placed India on it’s Priority Watchlist and would be conducting an Out of Cycle Review later this year. So, it basically refers to another report as its reason for its presence on this report!
It does not explain why this oddly named caucus has decided India is more relevant to this list than any of the other countries on that previous list, nor does it even mention the factors which led it to be on either list! To me, this seems like nothing but an opportunity to create further pressure and rhetoric directed at making India follow US’ instructions about how it should implement its Copyright regime – simply by duplicating statements under a new heading without rhyme or reason. What next? Another report stating that India was on the 301 Watchlist AND the “International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus Watchlist” – and so it should be on a 3rd report as well?!