Academic journal article Chicago Journal of International Law

The Role of Digital Products under the WTO: A New Framework for GATT and GATS Classification

Academic journal article Chicago Journal of International Law

The Role of Digital Products under the WTO: A New Framework for GATT and GATS Classification

Article excerpt

Table of Contents

I. Introduction.............................................................................................................155

II. The WTO and International Trade....................................................................155

III. The Evolution of Digital Products...................................................................157

A. The Easy Cases-Tangible Goods Ordered Through the Internet and Electronically-Delivered Services........................................................................157

B. E-Products.........................................................................................................158

C. Remote Additive Manufacturing....................................................................159

1. What is additive manufacturing?.................................................................159

2. Legal treatment of additive manufacturing...............................................160

3. Why focus on additive manufacturing?.....................................................161

IV. A Goods-Services Framework for Digital Products......................................162

A. Definitions-A Formalistic Approach..........................................................162

1. Dictionary definitions...................................................................................163

2. Common-usage definitions-tangibility and essential characteristics... 164

B. Likeness-A Functional Approach................................................................166

C. Goals of the WTO-A Theoretical Approach............................................169

1. Goals enunciated in GATT and GATS preambles..................................169

2. Economic goals of trade liberalization.......................................................170

3. Protectionist goal of the GATS..................................................................171

4. WTO goals and digital products.................................................................172

V. Synthesis and Proposed Solution........................................................................174

A. Sui Generis Solutions.......................................................................................174

B. A New Approach: Cost-Minimizing Interpretation....................................175

VI. Conclusion............................................................................................................177

I. Introduction

According to Moore's Law, the number of transistors that electrical engineers will be able to fit on a microchip doubles every two years.1 So while technology expands at a geometric rate, the law governing technology inevitably loses pace and has the difficult task of playing catch-up. In international law, this problem has manifested itself in the realm of international trade of digital products. International trade law under the World Trade Organization (WTO) relies on distinguishing between goods and services. In the age of the Internet, commenters have vigorously debated the proper WTO treatment of digital products-are they goods or services?2 This Comment seeks to answer that question by proposing a new, three-part taxonomy for classification. Section II explains the relevant aspects of WTO law and outlines the difference in treatment of goods and services in international law. Section III discusses four types of digital goods and the efforts made at classification thus far. Section IV provides a three-part taxonomy of classification based on formalistic, practical, and theoretical concerns. Finally, Section V proposes a method to synthesize different methods of classification. Applying this method, I conclude that digital products should be treated as services under current WTO law.

II. The WTO and International Trade

The WTO, as a body, is essentially the sum of trade liberalization agreements between member states. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.