Panama Passes Copyright Bill – Reactions and Analysis
Last week the Panamanian Congress passed Bill no. 510 on Copyright and Related Rights, meant to bring the country into compliance with its trade agreement with the U.S. The bill was fast-tracked, clearing three readings in the legislature in less than two months. A blog by PIJIP fellow Lina Diaz describes reactions from local stakeholders, including from Rep. Jose Blandon, the Panamanian Society of Authors and Composers, D3M, and the Educators Association. Her blog also links to an online petition by composers, writers and artists asking the president to veto the bill. A blog by Sean Flynn describes three substantive issues showing the Bill’s marked imbalance: “lack of protection for transient electronic copies on the internet; a shift from an ‘open’ to a ‘closed list’ system of limitations and exceptions; and a requirement that all limitations and exceptions for users of copyrighted content be interpreted ‘strictly’.”
India’s Patent Law on Trial
[Leena Menghaney] This month, two critical legal battles between multinational pharmaceutical companies and the Indian government are taking center stage in an ongoing struggle over India’s medicines patent law. The potential consequences could be dire for governments and people in developing countries that rely on affordable, quality generic medicines produced in India. For example, more than 80% of antiretrovirals (ARVs) used by donor funded HIV treatment programmes globally between 2003 and 2008 were sourced from generic manufacturers in India. At stake are public health safeguards within India’s patent law that allow India to provide lifesaving drugs at affordable prices. One case goes to the heart of what merits a patent. The other addresses what countries can do when patented lifesaving medicines are priced out of reach for the vast majority of patients. Click here for more.
Opposing Views on the Constitutionality of Ley Lleras 2
[Sofia Castillo] After the U.S. and Colombia approved their Free Trade Agreement, Colombia sought to comply with its terms by passing a new bill last April 10, 2012. Congress approved Law 1520 (a.k.a Ley Lleras 2.0) after only two weeks, with little debate. Critics are concerned the new law is more restrictive than what is required by the FTA and U.S. copyright legislation. Last May, Senator Jorge Robledo filed a 23-page complaint before Colombia’s Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of the new law. Robledo’s claim specifically targets the (lack of) procedure by which the entire law was approved in Congress and which violates Articles 142, 153 and 157 of the Colombian Constitution. The complaint then addresses two specific articles in the new law arguing that they clash with provisions of the Colombian constitution. Earlier this month, Colombia’s Attorney General Alejandro Ordoñez, submitted a brief document in support of the constitutionality of the Ley Lleras 2.0 and rejecting Robledo’s arguments. For Ordoñez, Articles 6 and 13 of the new law are not unconstitutional because free access to literary or artistic works is not a fundamental right. Click here for more.
Survey of Comments to USTR on the Entry of Mexico and Canada Into the TPP
[Kristen Josey, PIJIP Fellow]The United States Trade Representative issued Federal Register notices on July 23, 2012, for comments on Mexico and Canada joining the TPP negotiations regarding several areas of the agreement, including intellectual property. Organizations and individuals responding with comments on intellectual property issues were generally supportive of new participants in the agreement. The majority of commenters, including industry associations representing pharmaceuticals and manufacturing, were supportive of higher IP standards. Two organizations suggested requiring IP protections under the TPP that are similar to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Click here for more.
Intellectual Property Policy Incoherence at the African Union Threatens Access to Medicine
[Brook Baker] The AU Scientific, Technical, and Research Commission has proposed a draft statute to establish the Pan-Africa Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO). The statute, drafted by true believers of IP-maximalist ideology, proposes to establish a region-wide intellectual property organization with the sole agenda of expanding IP rights, strengthening enforcement, harmonizing regional legislation, and eventually facilitating the granting of IP monopolies by a central granting authority that may well be legally binding on Member States. Throughout the proposed legislation, there is not one reference to achieving a balance between the interests of rightholders and users of technology and creative endeavors. There is not a word on preserving permitted limitations or exceptions to IPRs or controlling misuse of IP monopolies. There is not a single commitment to withstanding pressures from the U.S. and EU forever expanding intellectual property rights that are longer, stronger and broader; nor for the draconian enforcement obligations that suppress legitimate competition and impose costly border, criminal, and civil enforcement obligations on Africa taxpayers. Click here for more
October 16 Event: Intellectual Property, Trade and Developmen
On October 16, PIJIP and Public Citizen will co-host a multidisciplinary event that will bring together academics, civil society, and policy makers to 1) examine how intellectual property affects economic growth in countries at different levels of development, and 2) analyze the way the United States ratifies trade agreements through Executive Agreements. Speakers: Walter Park (American University), Jerome Reichman (Duke University), Michael Ryan (Georgetown University), David Langdon (Department of Commerce), Joe Damond (Biotechnology Industry Organization), Burcu Kilic (Public Citizen), Rashmi Rangnath, (Public Knowledge), Oona Hathaway (Yale University), Rochelle Dreyfuss (New York University). Click here for more.