Re:Create Coalition Wants NAFTA Safe Harbors

Consumer-facing tech companies, fair use fans, libraries and others don't want trade negotiators to forget about them as they negotiate a new North American Free Trade Agreement.

President Donald Trump pronounced the last NAFTA agreement a bad deal.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Re: Create Coalition Executive Director Joshua Lamel said that if copyright enforcement is part of the agreement, then Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) carve-outs for fair use must also be included.

"Safe harbor provisions are critical to the internet economy, startups, and U.S. creators, as well as traditional American businesses that leverage U.S. online platforms to export goods and services to a global audience," he wrote.

The coalition includes the Consumer Technology Association, the American Library Association and Public Knowledge.

They argue that without such harbors, Reddit would never have gotten off the ground, for example, and that liability protections must not be weakened at the potential cost of almost half a million jobs and $44 billion in GDP.

Copyright groups have argued that such harbors have been abused to shield pirates. But the coalition says that is not the case.

And to the argument that safe harbors are a way for internet giants to protect themselves, Lamel wrote, "Contrary to the claims of the entertainment industry, safe harbors are far more critical to the growth of startups than they are to large internet companies."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.