IP Enforcement Roundup

British Government Announces “Sweeping Reforms” of IP Law

The UK plans to modernize intellectual property law by implementing the recommendations in the May 2010 Hargreaves report.  It announcement highlighted reforms including exceptions to copyright for private copying, parody, and text and data mining by researchers, as well as the creation of a copyright exchange to facilitate licensing, and the establishment of clearance procedures for orphan works.   Secretary Vince Cable said in his announcement: “The Government is focused on boosting growth and the Hargreaves review highlighted the potential to grow the UK economy. By creating a more open intellectual property system it will allow innovative businesses to develop new products and services which will be able to compete fairly in the UK’s thriving markets for consumer equipment.” Click here for more.

Ten Representatives Ask USTR for Meeting on IP Provisions in the TPP that Threaten Access to Medicines

In a letter to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, ten members of Congress have asked for a meeting to discuss “the approach your office is considering for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement negotiations that would undermine public health and access to medicines in the developing countries negotiating that agreement.”  They are concerned over reports that USTR is considering the expansion of patentability and data exclusivity requirements, the prohibition of pre-grant opposition to patents, and the inclusion of a pharmaceutical chapter that would “limit the ability of governments to negotiate with drugmakers and set reimbursement rates.”  The letter was signed by Reps. Schakowsky, Payne, Waters, Jackson, Grijalva, Conyers, DeLauro, Woolsey, Lee and Michaud.  Click here for more.

Over 200,000 John Does Sued for File Sharing in the U.S. Since the Start of 2010

Copyright owners have greatly increased the number of lawsuits for filesharing in the U.S., and have sued 201,828 John Does in the U.S. for filesharing since the beginning of 2010.  TorrentFreak has published data on the cases, and describes them as part of a “pay-up-or-else scheme” which could lead to millions paid in out of court settlements: “Through these mass lawsuits the copyright holders are trying to obtain the personal details of (mostly) BitTorrent users who allegedly shared their material online. Once this information is handed over, they then offer the defendant the opportunity to settle the case for a few hundred up to a couple of thousand dollars, thereby avoiding a full trial and potentially even bigger financial penalties.” Click here for more.

Story on the EU ACTA Letter

FFII posted a letter that the European Parliament Committee on International Trade wrote the Parliament Legal Service which asks a series of questions on ACTA – What is its opinion on the legal basis for signing ACTA; how does ACTA conform with the EU Acquis (specifically in regard to border measures, the criteria for damages, and criminal measures.); how does ACTA conform with the TRIPS Agreement; and whether the Commission is obliged to publish the negotiating history.  FFII notes that the questions asked were very specific, and they overlooked the more important broad question of how ACTA may affect fundamental rights.  Click here for the FFII blog and the letter.

Aaron Swartz Charged with Wire Fraud for Downloading 4.8 Million Articles from JSTOR

Aaron Swartz, the founder of the nonprofit Demand Progress and a fellow at Harvard University’s Safra Centre for Ethics, was arrested last month for downloading 4.8 million JSTOR articles from a server at MIT.  If convicted, he faces up to 35 years and prison and fines of up to $1,000,000.  The District Attorney’s press release accuses Swartz of “stealing” the documents “with the purpose of distributing through file-sharing sites,” but the indictment does not accuse Swartz of this – rather, he is charged with wire and computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and for recklessly damaging a protected computer. Click here for more.

Events and Deadlines