Infojustice Roundup

Intellectual Property and the Public Interest

Draft Analysis of U.S. TPP Proposals for Intellectual Property and Pharmaceuticals, Open for Comment

A joint analysis of the leaked U.S. proposals for intellectual property and pharmaceutical pricing chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been released by Margot Kaminski (Yale), Brook Baker (Northeastern University) and Jimmy Koo and Sean Flynn (American University, WCL).  The U.S. proposal is lengthy and complex, with most sections including new language not included in any previous free trade agreement and many provisions extending beyond the current bounds of U.S. law. To help ensure that their analysis is as complete and accurate as possible, the authors have released their preliminary findings in draft form for public comment. Comments will be accepted through 5pm EST November 29, 2011. Click here for more.

Survey Shows a Majority of Americans Oppose IP Enforcement Actions Promoted by U.S. Government

The American Assembly at Columbia University has released preliminary findings from their survey of computer users’ practices and opinions regarding unauthorized downloading.  Among the findings:  “Only a slim majority of Americans (52%) support penalties for downloading copyright music and movies… Among those who support fines, 75% support amounts under $100 per song or movie infringed – hugely undershooting the current statutory penalties… 69% oppose monitoring of their internet activity for the purposes of enforcement. 57% oppose blocking or filtering by commercial intermediaries if those measures also block some legal content or activity.”  Click here for more.

European Parliament Resolution Opposes Domain Name Seizures

On November 15, the European Parliament issued a resolution that “Stresses the need to protect the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names.” The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Operation In Our Sites has blocked domain names for websites run by European companies, and Congress is currently considering the Stop Online Piracy Act, which contains provisions related to further DNS Blocking. Click here for more.

Notes on the House Judiciary Committee Hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act

On November 16, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the controversial legislation introduced by Rep. Smith to give the executive branch and IP owners more tools to fight online piracy. Witnesses who testified represented the U.S. Copyright Office, Pfizer, the Motion Picture Association of America, MasterCard, Google, and the AFL-CIO.  All of the witnesses except for Katherine Oyama (Google) supported the legislation, and most of the Members of the Committee seemed to support it as well. Click here for more.

Addressing the Proposed WIPO International Instrument on Limitations and Exceptions for Persons with Print Disabilities: Recommendation or Mandatory Treaty?

Margot Kaminski and Shlomit Yanisky-Ravid have released a working paper that “addresses the proposed WIPO International Instrument on Limitations and Exceptions for Persons with Print Disabilities. … We conclude that if WIPO wants to achieve compliance, this proposed instrument should be binding hard law. Enacting this agreement as soft law would undermine the goal of making copyrighted works accessible to persons with print disabilities…   In the international copyright context, hard law is necessary because of the complicated web of existing hard law in the field. If WIPO wishes for the proposed instrument to counter hard law established in other forums, it should make the instrument binding. Otherwise, developing countries will not implement the instrument, and WIPO will fail to reach those persons with print disabilities most in need of an international solution.”  Click here for more.

UN Special Rapporteur Supports WIPO Treaty for the Blind

Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, has called on WIPO Member states to “work assiduously to agree a binding WIPO treaty for blind and other reading disabled people.”  In a message to the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, he said that “Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that the right to freedom of opinion and expression ‘includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and, to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’… Blind and partially sighted people face a ‘book famine’ in which the vast majority of books are never made into accessible formats like braille, audio or large print. WIPO SCCR23 has an opportunity and a responsibility to help to solve this problem, by removing the copyright barriers which prevent access for reading disabled people.”  Click here for his statement on the TACD website.

WTO Members Asked to Consider Extension of TRIPS Deadline for Least Developed Countries

The World Trade Organization’s TRIPS Council will ask Member states to consider a request from Least Developed Countries for an extension of the deadline for their compliance with the TRIPS Agreement. IP Watch reports that Bangladesh presented the TRIPS Council with the request, which recognizes that “Least Developed Country Members continue to face serious economic, financial and administrative constraints in their efforts to bring their domestic legal system into conformity with the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement.”  Currently, LDCs are required to implement the Agreement by 2013 (There is an extra 3-year period for measures related to pharmaceuticals).  Click here for more.

CIS Interview with Prof. Balaram on Open Access

CIS-India has posted a podcast of an interview with Professor P. Balaram, Director of the Indian Institute of Science, on open access. Prof. Balaram notes that the “author pays” model can lead to substantial costs for authors, so it may work better in developed countries where there is substantial government support for science, than in low and middle income countries.  Because of this, he says he favors institutional archives which are openly accessible and have the works of academics from the institution, regardless of whether the works were initially published in an open access journal.  Click here for the full interview on the CIS website.