Stanford Holds Conference on Harmonization & Trade
“Harmonization” is one of those terms that increasingly has crept into the copyright lexicon over the last few years. I first recall hearing the term in the late nineties, around the time the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was being debated and passed into law.
Simply put, harmonization is a concept whereby the intellectual property laws of different countries are made consistent, mostly to facilitate international trade and business. Ideally, each country’s IP laws will have similar weight and effect where harmonization occurs. Practically speaking, however, “harmonization” really means that the United States’ IP laws effectively become the world’s IP law because the U.S. holds a disproportionate trade negotiating advantage.
And we use that advantage by making other countries offers that they can’t — or won’t — refuse: as a result of doing business with the U.S., our trade representative demands that other countries’ IP laws become “harmonized” with our IP laws. In contrast, it is unusual that we would agree to agree to another country’s IP regimen.
Ultimately, harmonization is an important topic, and Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society (“CIS”) will hold a conference in September about this and related issues. The conference, entitled Standardization and the Law: Developing the Golden Mean for Global Trade, will focus on Full details are available from the CIS Web site.