The Foxfire of Fair Use: The Google Books Litigation and the Future of Copyright Law

 Posted by on July 11, 2016  Comments Off on The Foxfire of Fair Use: The Google Books Litigation and the Future of Copyright Law
Jul 112016

rimmerAbstract:   This article considers the dynamic evolution of copyright exceptions and limitations in the United States in light of new technological developments. There has been significant legal debate in the courts and in the United States Congress in respect of the scope of the defence of fair use. The copyright litigation over Google Books has been a landmark development in the modern history of copyright law. The victory by Google Inc. over The Authors Guild in the decade long copyright dispute is an important milestone on copyright law. The ruling of Leval J emphasizes the defence of fair use in the United States plays a critical role in promoting transformative creativity, freedom of speech, and innovation. Continue reading »


The High Price of Drug Patents: Australia, Patent Law, Pharmaceutical Drugs and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

 Posted by on December 22, 2015  Comments Off on The High Price of Drug Patents: Australia, Patent Law, Pharmaceutical Drugs and the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Dec 222015

rimmer[Cross posted from Medium] Published by the Australian Government on the 20th March 2014, the independent “Pharmaceutical Patents Review Report” recommends to shorten and reduce patent term extensions, to address the problems of evergreening and data protection, and to reverse Australia’s passive approach to the negotiation of intellectual property and international trade. The report emphasizes the need for Australia to protect its public health interests in the negotiation of the “Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

This week, the secrecy surrounding an independent Australian report on patent law and pharmaceutical drugs has been lifted, and the work has been published to great acclaim. Continue reading »


The Trans-Pacific Partnership Poses a Grave Threat to Sustainable Development

 Posted by on November 20, 2015  Comments Off on The Trans-Pacific Partnership Poses a Grave Threat to Sustainable Development
Nov 202015

rimmer[Cross posted from The Conversation, Link (CC-BY-ND)] This month’s long-awaited release of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) text was the result of years of negotiations on trade ties between nations around the Pacific Rim. Some six weeks earlier, another set of deliberations came to an end as the United Nations unveiled its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality by addressing critical issues such as food security, health care, access to education, clean and affordable water, clean energy, and climate action. Continue reading »

Aug 252015

rimmerThe Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a highly secretive trade agreement being negotiated between the US and eleven Pacific Rim countries, including Australia. Having obtained a fast-track authority from the United States Congress, US President Barack Obama is keen to finalise the deal. However, he was unable to achieve a resolution of the deal at recent talks in Hawaii on the TPP. A number of chapters of the TPP will affect the creative artists, cultural industries and internet freedom – including the intellectual property chapter, the investment chapter, and the electronic commerce chapter. Continue reading »

Dec 222014

mrIn his visit to the G20 in Brisbane, President Barack Obama sought to promote his ambitious Pacific Rim trade agreement — the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He told an audience at the University of Queensland:

We’ll keep leading the effort to realize the Trans-Pacific Partnership to lower barriers, open markets, export goods, and create good jobs for our people. But with the 12 countries of the TPP making up nearly 40 percent of the global economy, this is also about something bigger. It is our chance to put in place new, high standards for trade in the 21st century that uphold our values. So, for example, we are pushing new standards in this trade agreement, requiring countries that participate to protect their workers better and to protect the environment better, and protect intellectual property that unleashes innovation, and baseline standards to ensure transparency and rule of law. Continue reading »

Oct 172014

us flag w logosThe Trans-Pacific Partnership is a sweeping trade agreement, spanning the Pacific Rim, and covering an array of topics, including intellectual property. There has been much analysis of the recently leaked intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership by WikiLeaks. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief, observed “The selective secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations, which has let in a few cashed-up megacorps but excluded everyone else, reveals a telling fear of public scrutiny. By publishing this text we allow the public to engage in issues that will have such a fundamental impact on their lives.”  Critical attention has focused upon the lack of transparency surrounding the agreement, copyright law and the digital economy; patent law, pharmaceutical drugs, and data protection; and the criminal procedures and penalties for trade secrets. The topic of trade mark law and related rights, such as internet domain names and geographical indications, deserves greater analysis. Continue reading »

Aug 052014

blue futureMaude Barlow is the chairperson of the Council of Canadians, and the founder of the Blue Planet Project. She is a recipient of Sweden’s Right Livelihood Award, and a Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship. As well as being a noted human rights and trade activist, Barlow is the author of a number of books on water rights – including Blue Gold,[1] Blue Covenant,[2] and Blue Future.[3] She has been particularly vocal on the impact of trade and investment agreements upon water rights. Barlow has been critical of the push to include investor-state dispute settlement clauses in trade agreements – such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP). She has also been concerned by the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) leaked by WikiLeaks. Continue reading »


Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties on the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA)

 Posted by on June 19, 2014  Comments Off on Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties on the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA)
Jun 192014

mrABSTRACT:  Australia and South Korea have signed a new free trade agreement – the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA). Is it a fair trade fairytale? Or is it a dirty deal done dirt cheap? Or somewhere in between? It is hard to tell, given the initial secrecy of the negotiations, and the complexity of the texts of the agreement …

Recommendation 4: The intellectual property chapter of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement 2014 is controversial. The proposed regime is one-sided and unbalanced. The intellectual property chapter is focused upon providing longer and stronger intellectual property rights for intellectual property owners. There is a failure to properly consider other public interest objectives – such as access to knowledge, the progress of science and the useful arts, and the promotion of innovation and competition.

Click here for the full submission.


New Zealand, Plain Packaging, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

 Posted by on March 28, 2014  Comments Off on New Zealand, Plain Packaging, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Mar 282014

cigarettesThe New Zealand Parliament is considering the adoption of plain packaging of tobacco products with the introduction of the Smoke-Free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill 2014 (NZ). There has been strong support for the measure amongst the major parties – including the National Party; the Maori Party; the Labor Party; and the Greens. The New Zealand parliamentary debate has considered matters of public health and tobacco control; the role of intellectual property law; and the operation of international trade and investment law. Continue reading »

Mar 242014

Ireland’s Minister for Health Dr James Reilly promoting plain packaging of tobacco products

A world leader in public health, Australia introduced plain packaging of tobacco products. Julia Gillard – the Prime Minister of Australia at the time responsible for plain packaging – has observed:  “Since 1 December 2012, cigarettes packets in Australia do not sparkle with gold or silver and do not have any other way to catch and please the eye. They’re a uniform drab colour, with most of the box taken up with the most graphic health warnings. Gruesome pictures of disease perhaps better described as real pictures of the ugly truth.”

The public policy measure was designed to implement Australia’s obligations under international health law, and to address the public health impacts of tobacco. In particular, the measure was intended to address misleading and deceptive advertising by the Mad Men of the tobacco industry, which targeted consumers, including vulnerable populations, like children. Continue reading »


Trick or Treaty? The Australian Debate Over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)

 Posted by on January 4, 2014  Comments Off on Trick or Treaty? The Australian Debate Over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
Jan 042014

mr[Working paper] The secretive 2011 Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – known in short by the catchy acronym ACTA – is a controversial trade pact designed to provide for stronger enforcement of intellectual property rights. The preamble to the treaty reads like pulp fiction – it raises moral panics about piracy, counterfeiting, organised crime, and border security. The agreement contains provisions on civil remedies and criminal offences; copyright law and trademark law; the regulation of the digital environment; and border measures. Memorably, Susan Sell called the international treaty a TRIPS Double-Plus Agreement, because its obligations far exceed those of the World Trade Organization’s TRIPS Agreement 1994, and TRIPS-Plus Agreements, such as the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement 2004. ACTA lacks the language of other international intellectual property agreements, which emphasise the need to balance the protection of intellectual property owners with the wider public interest in access to medicines, human development, and transfer of knowledge and technology.  Continue reading »

Dec 112013

mrOn the 5th December 2013, Australia and Korea announced that they had finalised a new free trade agreement. Is it a fair trade fairytale? Or is it a dirty deal done dirt cheap? It is hard to tell, because the respective governments have not yet published the text of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA). There has been much debate in the Australian Parliament over the transparency of the trade agreement; the scope of market access provided under the deal; and the impact of the investment chapter, with an investor-state dispute settlement clause. KAFTA foreshadows the approach of the new Conservative Government in Australia to other trade deals – such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Continue reading »