WASHINGTON – Today, over seventy international copyright law experts called for NAFTA and other trade negotiators to support a set of balanced copyright principles. The experts urge trade negotiators to support policies like fair use, safe harbor provisions, and other exceptions and limitations that permit and encourage access to knowledge, flourishing creativity, and innovation. Signatories include preeminent intellectual property professors and experts from law schools, think tanks, and public interest organizations in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, as well as Argentina, Australia, China, Ireland, and Switzerland.
[Drugs for Neglected Diseases press release, Link (CC-BY-NC-SA)] Malaysia has issued a “government use” licence enabling access to more affordable versions of an expensive and patented medicine to treat hepatitis C. This landmark decision should help the more than 400,000 people living with hepatitis C in Malaysia access sofosbuvir, and could have important repercussions in the global effort to secure access to expensive treatments for this viral disease.
[Fifa Rahman for IP-Watch, Link (CC-BY-SA)] Gilead’s announcement today that they would include four middle-income countries (Malaysia, Thailand, Belarus, Ukraine) in their sofosbuvir voluntary licence was a welcome surprise, and will enable millions access to their highly effective, but exorbitantly priced, drug.
The decision to include these countries, however, no doubt is a response to increasing pressure from within these countries to either issue a compulsory licence (CL) or a government use licence (GUL), invalidate the sofosbuvir patents, or block data exclusivity for the drug.
[Mark Schweizer for IP Kat, Link (CC-BY)] According to its media release of 11 July 2017, the German Federal Court of Justice confirmed the decision of the Federal Patent Court granting Merck a compulsory license to EP 1 422 218 owned by Shionogi. This allows Merck the continued distribution of its antiretroviral drug Isentress, an approved medication for treatment of HIV-patients, on the German market.
The case is highly unusual not only because compulsory licenses are exceptionally rarely granted under German law, but also because the license was granted in preliminary proceedings, which is a first.
There is increasing attention in international trade and copyright forums to the question of how international law should protect and promote copyright user rights. I presented the following options at this year’s Creative Commons Global Summit as examples of provisions that (at least partially) promote the organization’s mission of promoting “nothing less than realizing the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.”
Existing models included in trade and other international agreements primarily serve two ends –
- protecting rights of countries to enact “fair use” rights, e.g. from the challenge that such exceptions could be held to violate the Berne “3-step test” as not being sufficiently tailored to “specific” cases, and
- affirmatively promoting user rights in copyrights systems, either through broad mandates to achieve “balance” or through mandatory exceptions for some categories of use.
[Creative Commons blog, Link (CC-BY)] Below is an update from Creative Commons Indonesia, who recently worked with their national copyright office on proposed changes to law that will secure the ability of creators to use CC and other open licenses there.
In late 2014, Indonesia amended its copyright law to add several new provisions, including changes having to do with database rights, addressing copyright as an object in a collateral agreement, and making license recordation mandatory. The latter is something that could potentially be an issue with regard to the operation of Creative Commons licenses, as well as other open license in Indonesia.
[Timothy Vollmer, Creative Commons, Link (CC-BY)] The vision of the Creative Commons project is universal access to research and education, and full participation in culture to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity. Collaboration, sharing, and co-operation are in our nature — building community, co-operating towards common goods, and creating shared benefits are at the heart of who we are. But we know there’s a lot of failed sharing too, including missed opportunities, openwashing, and legal loopholes that permit individuals to take advantage of those who wish to share.
Today the Electronic Frontier Foundation is launching Reclaim Invention, a project that calls for reforms to the sharing of technologies developed within universities. The first step in the project is to get universities to stop selling inventions to patent trolls.
[House Ways and Means Committee Democrats, Link] A group of 15 House Democrats today sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman urging the Administration to clarify its position on compulsory licensing for generic medicines in Colombia.
The letter was led by Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI), and also signed by Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Peter Welch (D-VT), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), John Lewis (D-GA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), David E. Price (D-NC), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), and Sam Farr (D-CA).
[Joint Letter Signed by 122 Experts – PDF in English and Spanish, with Signatures] Dear President Santos: We are lawyers, academics and other experts specializing in fields including intellectual property, trade and health, writing to affirm that international law and policy support Colombia´s right to issue compulsory licenses on patents in order to promote public interests including access to affordable medicines.
[University of Cape Town IP Unit, Link, (CC-BY-SA)] On 5 May 2016, the Gauteng High Court delivered the long awaited decision in Moneyweb v Media24. The case’s history is nicely captured here. In a nutshell, the case dealt with, among other things, the alleged copyright infringement of 7 articles published by Fin24, a part of Media24. Moneyweb had argued that through publishing these articles, Media 24 infringed its copyright by unlawfully copying, appropriating and/or plagiarising articles previously published by Moneyweb. The dispute raised important issues regarding the substance and extent of copyright protection in news articles and the outcome clarified crucial aspects of South African copyright law, including fair dealing and the meaning of originality.
Dear Mr. Bhanu Pratap Sharma, Chairman.
We would like to transmit to you and all assistants our best wishes for the success of this session, where governments, intergovernmental bodies and non-state actors are trying to get one step closer on mechanisms that will address the well known inefficiencies of the R&D model based on monopoly prices, inefficiencies that have caused innumerable harmful effects on people’s health and well-being.
But we need to put under your consideration, and the consideration of delegates and assistants, a special situation we are currently facing that reflects both the urgency and the interests that are preventing nations from reaching a global solution promptly.
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.