Infojustice Roundup

Intellectual Property and the Public Interest

U.S. Copyright Office Report on “Priorities and Special Projects”

U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante has published a report outlining the “Priorities and Special Projects” of the U.S. Copyright Office for the next two years.  According to the copyright office press release: “Rogue websites, illegal streaming, small claims, orphan works, and library preservation are among the issues the Copyright Office will focus on through research and legislative support for Congress. The document also summarizes the work of the office in global policy, including U.S. trade negotiations, anti-piracy efforts and international discussions of exceptions and limitations.  The administrative practice of the Copyright Office will be particularly active during the next two years. The office has launched the fifth triennial rulemaking involving the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and will spend significant time considering and resolving regulatory issues affecting the copyrightability and registration of websites and other forms of digital authorship.”  Click here for more.

WIPO Initiative to Pool Resources for Tropical Diseases Research

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has announced “Re:Search,” a new consortium of pharmaceutical manufacturers, government entities, and nonprofit organizations which will share  intellectual property in order to drive research and development for new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics for TB, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases. WIPO Director Francis Gurry called RE:Search a “ground breaking example of how a multi-stakeholder coalition can put IP to work for social benefit.”  Some observers have criticized the initiative’s licensing provisions, which require medicines developed through the initiative to be made available through a royalty-free license in Least Developed Countries, but not in in other developing countries where tropical diseases are endemic.  Click here for more.

Margot Kaminski in IP Watch: Plurilateral Trade Agreements Lack Protections for Users, Intermediaries

The role of online intermediaries in copyright enforcement is on the international negotiating table. The topic arose in early drafts of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), and has come up again in the plurilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), for which negotiations just took place in Peru. Online intermediary liability is currently unaddressed by multilateral agreements. TRIPS [the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights] does not contain digital enforcement provisions on intermediary liability; neither does the WIPO Copyright Treaty. It’s clear, however, from the self-annihilating storm over ACTA’s digital enforcement chapter and the initial rumblings over the leaked US-proposed chapter for the TPP that intermediary liability is up for discussion. Click here for more.

South African Legislature Debates Bill to Protect Indigenous Knowledge

On October 28, the South African National Assembly debated the Intellectual Property Laws Amendments Bill, which aims to protect indigenous knowledge (IK).  Speaking before the House, Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies said, “this IP Bill seeks to amend the Performers Protection Act, Trade Marks Act, Copyright Act and Designs Act. The main thrust of the Bill is that no registration of IP that is based on IK will be able to be effected without 1) mandatory disclosure of the IK element, 2) prior informed consent by IK owners, and 3) without a benefit sharing arrangement entered into with the relevant IK owners.”  Click here for more.

Rep. Smith Introduces Stop Online Piracy Act

On October 26, Rep. Lamar Smith introduced the Stopping Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261),  the House version of Sen. Leahy’s PROTECT-IP Act.  It enables right holders to seek the takedown of the domain names of sites that host infringing content, and requires service providers, including search engines, advertisers, and online payment processors, to stop doing business with them.  The scope of websites that could be affected by H.R. 3621 bill is larger than that of the Senate bill.  While the Senate bill applies to sites “dedicated to infringing activities,” the house bill applies to sites that “facilitate” infringement.”  A site may be considered to facilitate infringement if (among other reasons) it takes actions to “avoid confirming a high probability of infringement,” – a provision which civil society groups warned may force service providers to monitor websites that contain user generated content. Click here for more.

EC Trade Commissioner Cites Protection of Geographic Indications as a Top Policy Goal

Speaking in Rome on October 28, European Trade Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht cited the protection of geographical indicators as a main component of EC trade policy:  “improving the worldwide protection of geographic indications is also high on our agenda. We are making in-roads, even in the face of opposition from other parts of the world with different Intellectual Property approaches. Our agreement with Korea achieved a high-level of protection for a key set of EU Geographical Indications, while recent agreements with Moldova and Georgia establish a very high level of protection for the complete range of EU geographical indications. We are even advancing in a deal on geographical indications with China and I hope that South Africa will look at our proposals on this subject more favourably than before. We will continue to pursue this aggressive policy both multilaterally (WTO), plurilaterally (such as in ACTA), bilaterally in our free trade deals and our wine agreements.”  Click here for Commissioner De Gucht’s full speech.

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