Author: Susan Chalmers

Where policy fora collide: country-code Top-Level Domains and the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement

[Cross posted from susanchalmers.com] To those familiar with the United States’ approach to intellectual property rights (“IP”) and trade policy, it will come as no surprise that the US is pressing other countries to give IP owners more in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (“TPP”), that is, more powerful economic rights and more power to enforce them. Some, however, may be surprised by one way in which the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) is angling to satisfy this aim through the TPP. In the section of the TPP text that addresses trademarks, there is a provision titled Domain names and the Internet (the “Provision”). The effect of the Provision would be to establish uniform standards for a group whose non-uniformity is widely recognised and accepted: country-code Top-Level Domain managers (“ccTLDs”). Below I explain why the Provision should not be included in the TPP, based on principle, but I do acknowledge that at least two thirds of it will be. Then I point out why the remaining third of the Provision should be rejected. There is surprisingly little written on this issue. The primary motivation behind this article is to generate public discussion on the matter before negotiations conclude. A bit of Background On ccTLDs A ccTLD is “an Internet top-level domain generally used or reserved for a country, a sovereign state, or a dependent territory,” for example .nz for New Zealand or .cl for Chile....

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NZ-born Fair Deal Coalition Gets Global Makeover

Published on behalf of the Fair Deal Coalition, of which InternetNZ is a member. [internetnz.net.nz, (CC-BY)]  The Fair Deal Coalition announces that it is ramping up its presence with a global publicity and education campaign that will raise awareness of intellectual property rights proposals in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). A new website – www.ourfairdeal.org – has today been launched and a string of new Coalition members announced – including US-based Fight for the Future, the Australian Library & Information Association, Japan-based Movement for the Internet Active Users and US-based Open Media. Fair Deal spokesperson and InternetNZ Policy Lead Susan Chalmers says there are strong concerns, in New Zealand and globally, that the TPP could result in stronger intellectual property laws that could undermine the openness of the Internet. “The now-expanded Fair Deal Coalition is aiming to create an informed, highly-visible, global conversation on copyright in the TPP,” she says. Since being formed in New Zealand in July 2012, the Fair Deal Coalition has given voice to the concerns of a growing number of people and organisations – including librarians, IT companies, open source societies, telecommunications users, the Internet community, digital rights activists, people who are blind or have low vision, artists, consumers, schools and universities. It is aiming to garner the support of 54 supporting organisations in six countries. Chalmers says it is testament to the sanity of...

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Early Lessons from the New Zealand Copyright Tribunal

[For InternetNZ, (CC-BY)] The local copyright enforcement arm for the “Big Three” record labels (Sony, Universal and Warner*) has won two cases at the Copyright Tribunal. One account holder was a Telecom customer, the other with TelstraClear, and now they owe the Big Three $616.57 and $557.17, respectively. Both were caught illegally uploading songs. The specific “wrong” here according to the Copyright Act is that only the copyright owner can “communicate the work to the public”. The law appears to presume that when your BitTorrent client allows other P2P users to download from you, then you are communicating that work to the public, even though that “public” could in fact be one person — more on that one later. The Copyright Tribunal’s written decisions (1st one, 2nd one) reveal a number of important things about how the Skynet law is playing out for copyright owners, account holders and the Tribunal. Rights owners What some people may not realise is that the “rights owner” under the Skynet law can be one person representing a number of different copyright owners. In each of the two cases, the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) cobbled together the infringement claims of two of the Big Three labels, over two songs. If that sounds confusing, that’s because it is. This table might help:   Account Holder Infringements (3 strikes) Copyright Owner “Rights Owner”...

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Copyright Exceptions in the TPP

In law, you have the rule, and then you have the exception to the rule. The rules in copyright law have, and always have had, exceptions that serve the public interest. Given that the rights granted under copyright law have become incredibly strong (e.g. the copyright term has gone from 14 years to lasting successive lifetimes), their exceptions should be reinforced in order to maintain the “balance” in copyright law that everyone talks about when they talk about copyright. (More on what that “balance” is between, and the actual broader context in which it sits, later). This week, New Zealand, the US and seven other countries are discussing how copyright exceptions fit into the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). Copyright exceptions are instances where the law does not punish copying. Here’s an illustration: only 5% of the world’s books can be “read” by the visually impaired because they have been converted into accessible formats. Under the Copyright Act, the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind is allowed to make Braille copies of books if the copyright owner – normally the publisher – has not done so (which is apparently 95% of the time). This copyright exception is good public policy. The visually impaired need access to knowledge just like everyone else, and if the copyright owner won’t provide that access then the law permits others to do it,...

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