January 15, 2015 | News, Press Releases

Digital Trade Must Remain At Forefront Of Trade Agenda In 2015

BECKERMAN: “ANY TRADE AGREEMENT THE UNITED STATES ENTERS MUST BE UPDATED TO REFLECT THE IMPACT THAT THE INTERNET INDUSTRY HAS ON U.S. ECONOMIC AND JOB GROWTH.”

 

Washington, D.C. – The Internet Association submitted a letter to the leadership of the Senate Finance and House Ways & Means committees today, urging Members of Congress to implement provisions that recognize the importance of and embrace digital trade in the newest draft of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill. Priorities include strong protections for intellectual property while also ensuring that important provisions of U.S. copyright law are fully reflected in any potential legislation.

“The Internet is an important export for the United States economy. Most Internet companies are based in the U.S., but the users are predominantly located abroad,” said Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of the Internet Association. “Any trade agreement the United States enters must be updated to reflect the impact that the Internet industry has on U.S. economic and job growth.”

Introduced in 2014, the most recent version of proposed trade promotion legislation is missing the necessary limitations and exceptions like fair use of copyrighted content for today’s digital innovators. Without these safeguards, websites could not provide snippets and links to other sites, services would be unable to “cache” copies of files for faster browsing, artists could be prohibited from creating mash-ups of existing content, and researchers would be unable to use others’ digital databases to solve problems using data analytics. These types of collaboration and innovation – among others – have helped Internet companies contribute $141 billion in annual revenue to overall U.S. GDP and employ 6.6 million people in recent years.

In addition to providing updated language addressing the current imbalance in intellectual property protections, the letter also highlighted other key priorities to any new proposed TPA language. These include policies such as intermediary liability, which protects Internet platforms from being liable for third party content. Other priorities outlined in the letter include the harmonization of customs and duties across technology-related goods and services and the promotion of open payment systems.

The letter noted that as a leading driver of commerce and economic growth, accounting for 21 percent of GDP growth in advanced economies and generating $8 trillion in annual global commerce, the Internet industry must be able to provide equal opportunities for both content creators and users, while simultaneously protecting all parties that benefit from this resource. Embedding technology-neutral policies into TPA will ensure that the Internet is able to continue to promote competition, growth, trade, and innovation for years to come.

The full letter can be viewed here.

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