Sep 252017

OTTAWA: It was being reported among various observers of NAFTA over the weekend that the talks in the IP chapter are progressing toward Copyright. The US appears poised to table the first set of its demands for that portion of the IP chapter. But it is also rumored that that the US demand may exclude the issue of copyright balance.

Civil society organizations, including internet freedom and information justice advocates from the US and Canada (Mexico was largely absent due to the earthquakes), gathered in Ottawa over the weekend to provide the public forum on NAFTA issues that the formal negotiation has yet to sponsor. The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic teamed with American University’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, OpenMedia, Public Citizen and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to discuss public interest concerns with the E-Commerce and copyright provisions of the potential agreement. Continue reading »

Aug 182017

Image: Alex Covarrubias (CC-BY)

We, the undersigned, are Internet freedom and public interest advocates drawn from all three nations party to this agreement, who are dedicated to the rights of all peoples to access cultural and educational resources, to enjoy a free and open Internet, and to benefit from open and needs-driven innovation.

As the United States, Mexico and Canada begin talks on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) this week, we write to share our concerns about NAFTA’s potential impact on the critical functions of the Internet and its potential to threaten access to information, the dissemination of news, cultural exchange and democratic organizing. Continue reading »

Aug 042017

[Originally published in South Africa’s Business Day, Link] Over the past two weeks, I have been participating in a series of events and workshops explaining copyright “fair use” rights to South African stakeholders and officials. This week, Parliament has been hearing about fair use while it considers the Copyright Amendment Bill, part of which includes the introduction of a fair use right.

Rights management organisations, which collect royalties from schools, venues and other organisations that use copyrighted works, are up in arms. A collection of these organisations and foreign media companies such as Sony Pictures, calling itself the Copyright Alliance, has claimed that fair use means: Continue reading »

Jul 212017

[Alek Tarkowski and Teresa Nobre, Communia Association, Link (CC-0)] Last week, the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) of the European Parliament voted on its final opinion concerning the Commission’s Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Copyright law in the shape proposed by the CULT MEPs would spell disaster for educators and educational institutions across Europe. Continue reading »

Jul 192017

PIJIP has created a table of comments submitted to the South African Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry regarding the Copyright Amendment Bill. It was last updated on July 19, 2017.

Please send additional comments to, and I will them to the table

Table of Comments to South African Parliament re: Copyright Amendment Act (B-13-2017)


Course Packs for Education Ruled Legal in India

 Posted by on July 12, 2017  Comments Off on Course Packs for Education Ruled Legal in India
Jul 122017

Anubha Sinha, CIS-India
Reposted from EIFL,org, Link (CC-BY)

On 9 May 2017, a five year court battle between publishers and universities finally came to an end when the Supreme Court of India dismissed an appeal by the Indian Reprographic Rights Organization (IRRO) challenging an earlier judgment of Delhi High Court that ruled course packs in India legal for educational purposes.

In a case that gained wide international attention, issues such as the cost of textbooks in India were raised, students agitated for fair access to educational materials, and the jurisprudence on copyright in India has taken a leap forward. In this guest blog, Anubha Sinha, Programme Officer on Openness and Access to Knowledge at the Centre for Internet and Society India, discusses the judgment in the case known as the ‘Delhi University photocopy’ case, and what it means for access to educational materials in India. Continue reading »

Jul 112017

[Matthew Sag and Sean Flynn, IP Watch, Link (CC-BY-NC-SA)] This week, the South African Parliament began accepting comments on its pending Bill proposing to amend the South African Copyright Act to align it with the digital age. We and other experts and civil society organizations submitted comments praising many of the Bill’s provisions and proposing that it adopt an “open” fair use right. Here we focus on one major reason to adopt an open fair use right – to authorize so-called non-expressive uses of works. We conclude with some reflectio ns on how international law could help in this regard. Continue reading »

Jul 102017

Excerpt:  South Africans would benefit greatly from a provision that makes is clear that the technical processes at the heart of machine learning, cloud computing, text mining, plagiarism detection, automated detection of copyright infringement and constructing search engine indexes do not violate copyright law. Under current South African law, all these activities are arguably unlawful because, although they do not communicate the copyright owner’s original expression to the public in any way, they all rely on copying as an intermediate technical step. Thus, it is a matter of concern that the current copyright revision bill, B13-2017) (Copyright), appears to make no provision whatsoever for important large-scale applications of new digital technology that will important to research and development in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. As a result, the terms of the proposed revisions would leave South Africans at a permanent and crippling disadvantage compared to residents of the United States, Israel, South Korea and other countries that have adopted, or are considering adopting a so-called “fair use” approach to copyright limitations and exceptions, as well as other countries that may take a narrower approach to immunizing information technology innovators from liability.

Click here for the full comment (PDF)

Jul 072017

[Submitted by Tobias Schonwetter] Excerpt: We note that the 2017 Bill is, as far as the drafting is concerned — and subject to our specific comments below — a marked improvement to the 2015 Copyright Amendment Bill. Some technical drafting errors do, however, remain. In particular, in many sections of the Bill, the word “author” is used, sometimes with a list of others, instead of the term “rights owner” being used.

In our comments concerning the 2015 Bill, we expressly welcomed the proposed introduction of a more flexible and open fair use provision. We note with concern that the lawmaker has since decided to significantly reduce the provision’s utility by limiting its applicability to a closed list of permitted purposes. We strongly urge the lawmaker to reconsider this decision and amend S12 of the 2017 Bill in line with our suggestions in this submission.

Click here for the full comments (PDF)


User Rights Network Submission on Copyright Amendment Bill

 Posted by on July 7, 2017  Comments Off on User Rights Network Submission on Copyright Amendment Bill
Jul 072017

Submitted jointly by the Global Expert Network on Copyright User Rights, Communia, Centrum Cyfrowe, and Creative Commons

Click here for the full submission (PDF)

Excerpt: We write to support the inclusion of a modern general exception in section 12 of the South African Copyright Act, and to offer refinements to the 2017 Bill’s proposal that we think would make it better serve the interests it promotes. General exceptions apply a single flexible balancing test (often defining what is “fair”) to authorise uses of copyrighted works for either an “open” or “closed” list of purposes. By open, we mean that the exception can apply to potentially any purpose, as in the United States, Israel, Malaysia and other countries. Closed list systems can only be applied to a purpose listed in the clause. Continue reading »

Jul 072017

Comment Submitted to the Protfolio Committee on Trade and Industry by Wikimedia ZA President Douglas Scott

Excerpt: We make this submission to request that the current South African law be amended to protect the right of FoP, namely the right to represent public works of art and architecture in other derivative works, such as in photographs or video. This could be achieved through either a specific exception or through an open list (i.e. open to purpose) fair use right in Sec. 12 of the Act.

Protecting FoP in the new bill would help to create a copyright framework that would maximise the public good from Copyright, without unduly eroding the rights of copyright owners.

Click here for the full comment. 


Comments on the Economic Benefits of Open Copyright Limitations, Submitted to South Africa’s Portfolio Comm. on Trade and Industry

 Posted by on July 7, 2017  Comments Off on Comments on the Economic Benefits of Open Copyright Limitations, Submitted to South Africa’s Portfolio Comm. on Trade and Industry
Jul 072017

Click here for the full comment (PDF)

Excerpt:  This comment presents results of ongoing research on copyright limitations being conducted by American University Washington College of Law’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP). The research demonstrates that positive economic outcomes are associated with greater openness in copyright limitations, and it supports arguments that South Africa will benefit from amendments to its copyright law that make limitations more “open.”

PIJIP defines copyright limitations as more “open” if they are open to the use of any kind of work, by any kind of user and/or for any purpose, as long as the use does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author. Continue reading »