On August 18, a group of South African and international legal experts will work with South African filmmakers to better understand their rights as users as well as creators under copyright law. The meeting will focus on actions filmmakers can take to use and expand user rights in South Africa that are necessary to fully enable the vibrant filmmaking industry that already exists, and to support emerging artists.
We would like to invite you to a workshop on Copyright Users Rights and the Clearance Culture in South African Filmmaking on August 18, at 10h00, at the NFVF, 87 Central Street, Houghton, 2198, Johannesburg. This workshop will be hosted by SASFED and its Affiliates, the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) at American University Washington College of Law in the United States, and the Intellectual Property Unit at the University of Cape Town. The workshop follows, and will report back on, research by the partner organisations on documentary filmmaker views and perceptions on the rights of filmmakers to reuse and transform material in their filmmaking without licensing restrictions.
Fannie Rascle — French journalist (@fannierascle) working for a website called novethic.fr, interviewed me today for an article about TTIP and transparency. Here are her questions and my answers.
European Union documents relating to TTIP could be made public after a European Court of Justice ruling yesterday : do you think it is an important decision ?
I am not an expert on that opinion. I read it to say that the Commission has to justify its decisions to not release documents related to international negotiations. I believe that the justification is weak for not having any method for a country to share with its own citizens proposals to change international law. The making of law should be the most public of our governmental activities.
Last week, USTR announced that it was closing a “partially open” meeting of the Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Small and Minority Business. No reason was given for the closing of the meeting. But this led an office in Congress to request the Congressional Research Service to find out just how many open meetings of the ITACs there have been. The answer:
Since 2004, there have been 13 “partially open” meetings of ITACS. Oddly, all but one of the open meetings were of the small and minority business committee.
In the weeks leading up to today’s publication of the Special 301 report, Indian officials were reportedly ready to file a challenge to the program in the World Trade Organization. That threat seems to have been avoided by the USTR refusing industry calls to list India as a “priority foreign country.” This follows USTRs decision to suspend a 301 investigation of Ukraine because of the political situation in that country. This leaves the 2014 list again with no priority foreign countries listed.
30 international intellectual property law professors from around the world filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court today in ABC v. Aereo. Aereo is being accused of being directly liable for copyright infringement by supplying equipment for a remote DVR service that allows consumers to record and play back free-to-air television programming. The brief responds to arguments made by IFPI et al and some other amici supporting ABC that international copyright law — including the Berne Convention, WIPO Copyright Treaty and several Free Trade Agreements — control the case. This brief argues that international law is not controlling, but rather leaves countries free to hold that Aereo’s equipment only facilitates private copying by consumers.
Yesterday, I was nominated by the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property for membership on the Industry Trade Advisory Committees dealing with Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Health/Science Products and Services (ITAC 3), Intellectual Property Rights (ITAC 15) and the Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee (PITAC). I was swiftly rejected by the coordinator of the ITACs because “Academic institutions, unless trading in educational services, do not qualify for ITAC membership.”
This comment is submitted on behalf of the undersigned legal academics. We are members of the Project on International Intellectual Property and the Public Interest, coordinated by the Program on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest (PIJIP). We write to provide the following comments on the Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee (PITAC) proposal.
The United States Trade Representative (USTR) recently announced that it would not seek sanctions against Ukraine following its designation as a Priority Foreign Country in the Special 301 process last year. The notice states that the USTR sticks by its finding that “certain intellectual property rights (IPR) acts, policies, and practices of Ukraine are unreasonable and burden or restrict United States commerce and are thus actionable under section 301(b) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (Trade Act).” But it is not taking action “[i]n light of the current political situation in Ukraine.” There is another reason USTR is not taking any action – sanctioning Ukraine or any other World Trade Organization member under Special 301 would violate the WTO.
The USTR recently issued two notices seeking membership applications for its Trade Advisory Committee System. One notice seeks “Industry” advisors and another seeks those for a new “Public Interest” committee. Each notice announces that the Committees will be established “[p]ursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.).” The Committees also operate under Charters which state that the Committees will be operated “in accordance with the provisions of the FACA, . . . with the exceptions set forth in the Trade Act.” That last line, it turns out, is key. The Trade Act gives USTR broad authority to exempt the operation of these committees from FACA open government requirements, which USTR uses habitually. One positive reform of the system would be for USTR at its discretion — or for Congress through the force of law — to apply all of the provisions of FACA to USTR’s advisory committees — just as would apply if these committees were being consulted on rule making by any other federal agency.
We thank and appreciate the interest of the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in allowing us to participate in the Special 301 hearing. We remain hopeful that our impartial, expert contribution to the process will assist the USTR’s efforts in assessing the legality of India’s intellectual property protections under binding international law and determining whether it is being deployed in an illegal protectionist manner against U.S. right holders.
USTR demands for hyper-secrecy in the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) continue to be a major block to continuing negotiations. The current issue under discussion is access to US proposals by EU member states — which are of course themselves sovereign countries. The member states are demanding access to the text of proposals that would constrain their domestic law making, as they ave had in all other EU trade agreements (e.g. the recent EU-Canada FTA). But Inside US Trade (2/28/2014) reports that USTR Froman has offered only that “he might be able to allow the European Commission to share the U.S. negotiating documents it receives if they were accessible only in a secure reading room.”