Public Knowledge founder Gigi Sohn tackles Bono's recent NYT op-ed, in which the rock star suggested we follow China's lead on net-filtering technology to limit the scourge of file sharing. Ms. Sohn writes:
But the most absurd thing about Bono's endorsement of draconian copyright enforcement is that it undermines just about everything else he professes to stand for. Look at the activities and goals of One, the nonprofit organization Bono co-founded. One is "committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa." It "campaign[s] for better development policies, more effective aid and trade reform. We also support greater democracy, accountability and transparency to ensure policies to beat poverty are implemented effectively." Among the specific issues One works on are the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDs and malaria, increasing access to quality education and ensuring trade policies that "create economic growth and opportunities for the poorest people."
If Bono truly cares about poverty, education, health care and fair trade in developing regions like Africa, he should be against draconian intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement regimes and for more balance. Numerous studies (including from the World Bank) have concluded that the strong IPR regimes exported from the West to the South (many through trade agreements) mainly benefit industrialized countries. There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is the cost of re-aligning national laws to fit these regimes and the cost of enforcement itself. Resources that could be devoted to education, or health care or fighting poverty are instead spent on protecting transnational media companies.