There has been a surge of interest lately in commitments to license patents on terms that are “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND). The patents at issue in these cases often cover industry standards that were developed in collaborative trade associations known as standards-development organizations (SDOs). But while the principal focus of litigants and regulators in recent years has been on patent commitments made within SDOs, parties have increasingly made voluntary public patent statements and commitments in less formal settings. Such statements and commitments can take the form of covenants not to sue, promises to license on royalty-free or FRAND terms, or clarifications of previous commitments that have been made.
The Business Software Alliance has produced its 2011 Global Software Piracy Study, which states that 57% of personal computer users have used pirated software, and that the net rate of software piracy is 42%. It finds that the piracy rate in emerging markets is far higher than that of high income countries (68% versus 24%).
The report also shows piracy rates and the commercial value of licensed software in 33 individual countries, which together represent 82% of the world computer market.
Associations representing content owners have announced an agreement with ISPs to establish a “common framework of ‘best practices’ to effectively alert subscribers, protect copyrighted content and promote access to legal online content.”
A fact sheet from the newly created Center for Copyright Information provides more details. Upon notification that an internet subscriber’s account is being used to illegally download copyrighted material, ISPs will send the subscriber a series of up to six “copyright alerts” that will notify him or her “that his/her account may have been misused for content theft, that content theft is illegal and a violation of published polices, and that consequences could result from any such conduct.” After the fifth alerts, ISPs may use “mitigation measures” such as “temporary reductions of internet speeds, redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss the matter or reviews and responds to some educational information about copyright, or other measures that the ISP may deem necessary.”
In a video interview from the World Copyright Summit on June 8, Francis Gurry, the Director General of WIPO, makes a (possibly unintended) effort to coop the “positive agenda” terminology of advocates for the development agenda and access concerns in international IP. He says that the current copyright agenda at WIPO (i.e. the development agenda and the limitations and exceptions debates for visually impaired, libraries and education in SCCR)
“… tends to be a negative one. It tends to be looking at the exceptions, the limitations, and the other ways of not having intellectual property. I’m very keen to see us coming back with a positive agenda for intellectual property.”
YouTube now offers people who upload video the option of licensing their videos under a Creative Commons Attribution License, which gives others the right to use and to remix the work as long as they give the credit to the creator of the original work. (Users who choose to do so may still use the standard YouTube license if they prefer.) Additionally, YouTube has created a library of works already available under creative commons licenses, from sources including C-SPAN, Voice of America and Al Jazeera.
Anil Varghese, Director of the Original Software Initiative, Microsoft India was recently interviewed for the Indian News outfit COIL. He told the interviewer that “software piracy rates in India have declined from 74 per cent to 65 per cent in the last seven years,” but “global losses from piracy and counterfeiting account for approximately $1 trillion.”
When asked to share key findings from the MS India survey, he said, “consumers know the difference between genuine and counterfeit software; and that genuine software performs better; consumers are four times more likely to recommend genuine than counterfeit software; consumers think there are risks with using counterfeit software, and 50 per cent of them even don’t believe in counterfeit software. The findings also revealed that, 79 per cent consumers agree that they need ways to protect themselves from inadvertently buying counterfeit software. Moreover, 82 per cent think that software companies should do more to stop their products from being counterfeited while 76 per cent consumers believe that government should do more to reduce the amount of counterfeit software.”
IP owners, government enforcement agencies, and WIPO met in Paris last week for the Sixth Global Congress Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy. Three themes that were repeated throughout the meeting were 1) the need to convince the public to have a greater respect for IP; 2) counterfeits pose a threat to health, safety, and economic growth; and 3) all stakeholders, public and private, national, regional and global, need to cooperate together to address the problems of counterfeits and piracy. BASCAP released a report predicting that the annual economic impact of counterfeiting and piracy will equal $1.7 trillion dollars in 2015.
OXFAM PRESS RELEASE, FEBRUARY 2, 2011: The proliferation of substandard, dangerous medicines in poor countries is being used by rich countries as an excuse to tighten intellectual property rules, boosting the profits of large pharmaceutical companies while making it harder for poor people to get access to the medicines they need, according to a report published today by international agency Oxfam. Eye on the Ball, launched at a high-level conference hosted by Interpol and the World Intellectual Property Organization in Paris, argues that improved regulation of medicines by poor countries, not enforcement of intellectual property rules, is the best way to ensure safe, effective, quality medicines.
The last panel of the day at the Global Conference Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy was titled “The power of education and awareness in building respect for IP.” It was moderated by John Tarpey, Director of WIPO’s Communications Division. He said the methods used to raise awareness of the problems of counterfeiting and piracy have changed. The approach used to be tougher, focusing on the consumer as criminal, especially when it came to kids illegally downloading music. This didn’t work well, so the approach is changing. There are numerous new approaches going on. “Fear is still used as an approach,” but it is more about fear for one’s personal safety.
The first afternoon panel at the Global Congress Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy was moderated by Simon Crompton, editor of the British publication Managing IP. He opened by noting that ACTA has been criticized both for having been negotiated in a way that lacked transparency, and for being watered down in the end.
After an opening plenary that restated the themes of the meeting, the second day of the Global Congress Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy broke into panels, one of which was “Financing effective enforcement – innovative approaches.” It was chaired by Trevor Little, Managing Editor of the World Trademark Review. He said that the current economic climate, all governments are facing limited resources, and this can affect the resources available for IP Enforcement. Therefore, we need to find savings where we can, and find good ways to maximize our efficiency.
In the late afternoon at the first day of the Global Congress Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy, a Boardroom Dialogue Session was held on “IP enforcement and sustainable development – perspectives and challenges.” Johannes Christian Wichard, Deputy Director General of WIPO’s Global Issues Sector moderated the panel. He opened by saying that intellectual property needs to protect the interests of both IP users and owners. It needs to be enforced in a balanced way. He read the text of TRIPS Art.7: