Oct 172016

sean - 150x150Senior copyright industry experts described the Trans Pacific Partnership and other recent free trade agreements as likely setting a “high water mark” for intellectual property commitments in trade agreements. The statements came as part of a symposium last week on Trading in IP: Copyright Treaties and International Trade Agreements sponsored by Columbia Law School’s Kernochan Center for Law, Media, and the Arts.

Steve Metalitz, Partner at Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp LLP and long-time Counsel to the International Intellectual Property Alliance, kicked off the discussion Continue reading »

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Oct 102016

sean - 150x150Reports from the WTO Public Forum held last week highlights a notable shift in the World Trade Organization toward an E-Commerce Agenda. The issue appears likely to be addressed substantively in the 2017 Ministerial Conference. Through then, the organization is likely to be increasingly discussing the form and objectives of a possible negotiation on the topic.

The WTO has had an explicit E-Commerce agenda since 1998. But the issue is receiving substantially increased attention in the WTO now. Continue reading »

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Oct 102016

sean - 150x150A workshop hosted by Electronic Frontier Foundation discussed the opportunity to use any WTO engagement with E-Commerce rules to expand transparency and participation processes for internet companies and users, academics and the greater public.

My intervention at that panel discussed at least three major goals that the WTO may have in constructing a more open discussion of E-Commerce rules: Continue reading »

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May 162016

sean - 150x150I am speaking on behalf of the American University Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property. And I speak as an educator myself and also on behalf of a larger network that I coordinate called the Global Expert Network on User Rights which is a network of educators.

Although I teach in a Northern school in Washington, D.C., I also spent some time teaching in a major university in South Africa where the context of access to educational materials is very different. When I taught an advanced constitutional class there of 70 students, only about five or six of the students could purchase the learning materials, the textbooks we were using for that class. The rest of them after each day would huddle in the library and attempt to share and read the copies that were on reserve in that space. And that’s the reality around much of the world – text books are priced similarly in poor countries and rich countries, but because of the disparities in income, students in poor countries cannot afford their learning texts. Continue reading »

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Apr 182016

wcl-sydney-torontoIntellectual property scholars and researchers from prominent universities in the U.S., Canada and Australia have released a submission to the Australian Productivity Commission strongly criticizing a report by PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PWC) on the economics of fair use (PWC Report).”

According to the Academics’ Submission:

The diffuse and forward-looking benefits of open exceptions like fair use may be hard to measure, but they are no less real. The PWC’s evaluation of the costs and benefits of fair use are not real. It is full of imagined horror stories that are unlikely to take place in fact. Continue reading »

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Mar 072016

sean - 150x150This reply comment responds to key questions that we were asked of us and others at the Special 301 hearing.

Flexible Exceptions Work in Developing Countries

I was asked in the hearing to comment on the proposition that flexible exceptions like fair use are only appropriate for the U.S. or other countries with highly developed adjudication systems. As I noted in the hearing, this idea is based on some key fallacies. Continue reading »

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Feb 292016

un 400pxJoint Submission by Sean Flynn, Cynthia Ho, David Levine, Gabriel Levitt, Heesob Nam, Alina Ng, and Andrew Rens

This statement calls on the High-Level Panel to promote policy coherence in the international intellectual property, human rights and global health system in part through a strong articulation and examination of the implications of the human rights duty to interpret and implement all legislation to promote the right to health and corresponding rights to access needed medicines. The submission describes why such a mandate – from the lens of international economic theory – would lead to the conclusion that states must make maximum use of routine compulsory licensing programs for pharmaceuticals to rectify intellectual property and health concerns. It then articulates how adoption of the interpretive rule should justify and motivate specific government actions – including minimizing the scope of patent rights and maximizing the use of routine compulsory licensing – that would help reduce the incoherence between rights of inventors, international human rights laws, trade rules, and public health objectives.

Click here for the full submission (PDF).

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Feb 082016

sean - 150x150Joint Special 301 Comment by Professors Michael Birnhack, Peter Jaszi, David Levine, Srividhya Ragavan, and Lea Shaver; and civil society organizations Public Knowledge and the Karisma Foundation.

The first part of this submission calls on USTR to adopt two interpretive principles in implementing the Special 301 statute. USTR should give proportional consideration to appropriate limitations and exceptions in evaluating foreign intellectual property systems, including by mentioning positive examples of limitations and exceptions in its “best practices” and “positive developments” identifications, and by listing countries on watch lists for egregious cases where a lack of limitations and exceptions stands as a barrier to US trade. Continue reading »

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Feb 032016

sean - 150x150Flynn, S. (2015). Copyright legal and practical reform for the South African film industry. The African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC), 16, 38-47.

Abstract: Copyright’s interest in promoting creative production is often described as requiring a “balance” between exclusion and access rights. Owners of copyright receive exclusive rights to control copies of their works, which enables authors to earn returns on their creations through sales or licensing transactions. But as important to promoting creation are the user rights in copyright law which permit building on the work of predecessors. Continue reading »

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Dec 172015

sean at podiumThe Chairs of the User Rights Track of the 2015 Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest adopted the following final plenary statement:

Through the past four Global Congresses we have re-energized a movement, created and shared evidence, and set common agendas for the infusion of public interest objectives into intellectual property policy making. We recommend that the Steering Committee for the Congress strongly consider seeking to host the next Global Congress in Geneva, Switzerland. Continue reading »

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Dec 112015

sean at podiumStatement of Sean Flynn, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property

Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights: Thirty-First Session December 7-11, 2015 (Geneva, Switzerland)

Thank you for recognizing me on the issue of promoting limitations and exceptions for educational purposes, potentially within the discussions underway on the needs of libraries.  Continue reading »

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Nov 052015

sean - 150x150Today’s release of the TPP agreement confirms that its Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) chapter would expand the rights of private companies to challenge limitations and exceptions to copyrights, patents, and other intellectual property rights in unaccountable international arbitration forums. The text contains broader provisions than are being used by Eli Lilly to challenge Canada’s invalidation of patent extensions for new uses of two medicines originally developed in the 1970s. Continue reading »

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