25th Meeting of the WIPO SCCR: November 19-23

Today is the opening of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s 25th meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights. The meeting will include discussions on limitations and exceptions for visually impaired persons/persons with print disabilities; libraries and archives; and educational and research institutions. There will also be discussion on the protection of broadcasting organizations.  Meeting documents, and a webcast of the proceedings are available here.

U.S. and Thailand Indicate Thai Interest in TPP; Do Not Indicate Rumored Entry Into Negotiations

During Obama’s Sunday trip to Thailand, the countries announced they will “convene the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Joint Council, which serves as a foundation for economic cooperation in this partnership.” Earlier last week, the Bangkok Post had reported that the nations were scheduled to announce that Thailand had “agreed to join negotiations” for the TPP, raising alarm among advocates for access to medicine. Fourteen Thai civil society groups wrote an open letter to PM Shinawatra warning that if Thailand joined the TPP, “access to medicines and the national public health system will be disadvantaged…” Seven American civil society groups wrote a letter to President Obama “to ask that you drop any demands that Thailand or other countries facing major public health crises change their intellectual property rules at the cost of the health of their people.” Click here for more.

Nature Publishing Group to Allow Authors to License Their Work Under Creative Commons Attribution Licenses

Earlier this month the Nature Publishing Group announced a new policy allowing authors of articles published in all 19 of its journals to publish under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license. Authors choosing to make their work available under a CC-BY license will pay a “premium” article processing charge, which Nature says will make up for income it typically earns on reprints.  Click here for more.

Africa: Let’s Re-Examine AU Intellectual Property Stance

Innocent Mawire, the  principal law officer on the secretariat of the inter-ministerial committee on intellectual property at Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs writes in the Zimbabwean Independent: “There is need to defer the adoption of the Pan African Intellectual Property Organisation (PAIPO) by the AU to allow further discussions on the proposed draft statute with a view to enriching it so that Africa, like other continents, can benefit from the knowledge economy that is driven by the Intellectual Property (IP) system. The adoption of the PAIPO statute in its current form will be a serious indictment on the part of African leaders as it would not result in any meaningful realisation in terms of economic growth while at the same time it would jeopardise the much advanced negotiating positions on IP matters by African states at the World Trade Organisation as well as at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).” Click here for the full story on AllAfrica.com

FFII Brief to European Court of Justice on ACTA Rejected

Though the European Parliament voted down the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement in the face of widespread opposition, the European Court of Justice is still tasked with determining whether the treaty is compatible with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The Foundation for a Free Internet Infrastructure submitted an amicus brief to the European Court of Justice arguing that ACTA is not compatible with the Charter, nor is it compatible with a number of other international human rights instruments.  The Court rejected the brief on the grounds that it doesn’t accept briefs from third parties. Click here for more. 

Republican Group Publishes Proposals for Copyright Reforms, Retracts Report the Following Day

Last Friday, the Republican Study Committee published a report by staffer Derek Khanna titled Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix It.  The brief received immediate attention and was redacted the following day. Khanna argues in the brief that the current copyright regime provides excessive terms of protection, carries excessive penalties, and no longer encourages innovation, as intended by the Constitution.  The brief suggests four reforms – reforming statutory damages, expanding fair use, punishing false copyright claims, and limiting the term of copyright to 12 years, with options for periodic renewals in return for increasing fees. Even after a series of term extensions, the maximum proposed term would be 46 years. Click here for more.

Examples of Resistance to Open Education Initiatives in the U.S.

[William Xu]  Recent developments in open licensing and technology have taken the movement to a tipping point. “Open” has become the buzz word in many educational communities, and Open Textbooks especially has generated wide interest. Pilot programs have demonstrated tremendous cost savings potential compared to traditional textbooks. Entrepreneurs are investing more in innovative technologies, and in turn increasing the interactivity and distribution potential of open education platforms. These developments have led to what some call an “educational renaissance”, and has even prompted some states and the federal government to incorporate OER in to the public education system. The losers in this story are the publishing industry and their supporters, who have relied on a monopoly on copyrighted textbooks for profit. Their resistance to the flurry of OER efforts throughout the nation is perhaps the best illustration of the shifting landscape in education. Click here for more.