Apr 162014
 

mm-cropped[Cross posted from Digital Rights LAC, Link (CC-BY-SA)] In the last chapter of a long debate, the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and Protection of Intellectual Property suspended the board of the Peruvian Association of Authors and Composers for one year. But what hides within this long discussion in a country like Peru, which is advancing firmly in its economic and cultural development? A radical change, perhaps.

During October 2013, an investigative report managed to inform the public on how copyright is designed and enforced in Peru. Its revelations have prompted congressional hearings, a state decision to suspend the directors of a collecting society, the first designation, after ten years, of a new director for the Office of Copyright and up to thirteen bills that aim to modify the most controversial parts of the law. Does this represent a real change for copyright in Peru or is it just a temporary phenomenon? Continue reading »

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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 »

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Mar 252014
 

Luiz Fernando Moncau (@lfmoncau)
Pedro Nicoletti Mizukami (@p_mizukami)
Center for Technology and Society @ FGV Law School, Rio

At around 9pm today, March 25th 2014, the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies finally voted in favor of approving the Marco Civil bill. The text, which can be read here (in Portuguese), will now be sent to the Federal Senate for deliberation, and later returned to the Chamber of Deputies before it can be sanctioned by President Dilma Rousseff.

Marco Civil, which is the first major Brazilian law on Internet rights—including provisions on net neutrality and intermediary liability—was modified several times by rapporteur Dep. Alessandro Molon (Worker’s Party, Rio de Janeiro), so that consensus could be reached in the Chamber of Deputies. It was a complicated process.

The approved text is substantially different than the version sent to Congress in 2011, which was the output of a broad public consultation process that took place between October 2009 and May 2010 (more information can be found in the 2011 CGI.Br Internet Policy Report). Battles over intermediary liability, data retention, and net neutrality stalled bill’s progress in the Chamber of Deputies for more than two years. Voting was delayed successive times even after the bill was put under urgency regime in September 2013—a status that has the effect of blocking most other proposals until voting is carried out.

Considering how terrible some of the proposed amendments to Marco Civil were, the approved text is largely positive. It is definitely not the ideal version of law. But it is a much better one than expected, and probably the best possible outcome given the existing political limitations.

Continue reading »

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Mar 242014
 
reilly

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 »

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Mar 192014
 

flag-russiaLinar Khalitov, Wikimedia Russia, Link (CC-BY)

On March 12, 2014, the Federal Law that introduced changes to the prime source of Russian civil law, the Civil Code, was signed. This sign-off brought to life many amendments that Russian members of Wikipedia have been eager to see for a long time. Continue reading »

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Mar 172014
 

latif-croppedLast January, Egypt and Tunisia enacted new constitutions in the context of the political changes they have been witnessing since the 2011 revolutions that overthrew the Mubarak and Ben Ali regimes. While most public attention has focused on how these constitutions have addressed hotly debated issues such as the structure of government, the role of religion and fundamental freedoms, there has been relatively less attention to how they have dealt with economic and social issues. In this regard, it is noteworthy that the two constitutions contain clauses which give high priority to building a knowledge economy and which provide for the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs), at the constitutional level, for the first time in the history of these countries. Continue reading »

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Mar 142014
 
Photo by Ito (CC-BY-2.0)

Photo by Ito (CC-BY-2.0)

Leaders in the Obama Administration, in state governments, and in corporate America have acknowledged the urgency of increasing access to higher education in the United States – particularly through community colleges.  These leaders also recognize the importance of improving completion rates and educational outcomes for those who enroll.

As we come to the close of Open Education Week, it is now time for these leaders to focus attention, energy and resources on the most immediate opportunity to make progress toward these goals while also freeing up billions of dollars that can be redirected toward this progress.  Make textbooks available to students for free or at very low marginal cost. Continue reading »

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Mar 142014
 

eifl[Electronic Information for Libraries, Link, (CC-BY)] Only between 1-7% of books worldwide are published in formats accessible to blind people such as Braille, large print, audio, DAISY Inaugural meeting of Ghana stakeholder group, Accra. Credit: Judy Friend (Digital Accessible Information System). The aim of the Marrakesh Treaty, that creates an international legal framework to enable the cross-border sharing of accessible materials, is to alleviate the “book famine” for people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled. Adopted in 2013 by Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Ghana was in the first group of countries to show political support by signing the Treaty. Continue reading »

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Mar 132014
 

jon-bandOn March 4, 2013, the White House announced that it disagreed with the decision of the Librarian of Congress not to allow consumers to unlock their cell phones to access other mobile networks. The White House took this position in response to a “We The People” petition that gained over 114,000 signatures. With legislation to address this issue pending in Congress, the five largest mobile carriers on December 12, 2013, adopted a voluntary commitment to allow cell phone unlocking after the expiration of a service contract. While this voluntary commitment provides some benefit to consumers, a comprehensive legislative solution may be precluded by the free trade agreements to which the United States is a party. This paper examines the legal background of this matter.

An earlier version was posted previously, but this version has been updated to reflect the debate over the new bulk unlocking language that was added as the bill went to the House floor.

Click here for the full paper (PDF)

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Mar 052014
 

sc[South Centre News Service, Link]  The South Centre calls on WTO Members to Respect the Legitimacy of the Use of TRIPS Flexibilities for Public Health in light of new threats of unilateral trade measures by the United States against India over its Intellectual Property Laws and Regulations Continue reading »

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Mar 042014
 

brazil-flag[Cross posted from Digital Rights-LAC, Link (CC-BY)]   After years demanding stronger public sector response to copyright infringement, IP industries have now shifted to the strategy of forcing governments to assume the role of facilitators in agreements between private parties. In Brazil, this tendency is clearly noticeable in industry demands related to copyright enforcement in the digital environment within the National Council on Combating Piracy (CNCP, Conselho Nacional de Combate à Pirataria). Continue reading »

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