Today’s New York Times features a story on a leaked draft outline the Trump Administration’s upcoming Executive Order on drug pricing. According to the Times, “the document directs the United States trade representative to conduct a study of price differences between the United States and other countries, and to review trade agreements that may need to be revised ‘to promote greater intellectual property protection and competition in the global market’.”
The AU Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property has been working over several years on empirical research pertaining to the impact of balanced copyright systems on trade and economic development. One key element of an adequately balanced copyright system is having sufficiently “open” limitations and exceptions for the digital environment. We refer to “open” limitations and exceptions for the digital environment as those that are open to the use of any kind of work, by any kind of user and for any purpose, as long as the use does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author. Such openness is the hallmark of the U.S. fair use clause. These “open” aspects are crucial because the digital environment creates new opportunities to use different kinds of works, by different users and for different purposes than were envisioned in most copyright statutes. An open statute is a flexible one – and flexibility is needed to accommodate and encourage innovation in the digital environment.
Reposted from EFF Deeplinks Blog, Link (CC-BY)
The dust has barely settled from the collapse of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and already a new trade battle is ahead of us: the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). President Trump called the controversial 1994 agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico “the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country.” But compared to the TPP, there’s a lot to like about the original NAFTA from a digital rights perspective: it doesn’t extend the term of copyright, it doesn’t require countries to prohibit DRM circumvention, and it doesn’t include new and untested rules to regulate the Internet.
Joint letter signed by 43 civil society organizations
Dear Ministers: As organisations representing health professionals and health advocates from countries that are signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), we write to convey our deep concerns about reports that some of the remaining TPP parties are considering resurrecting the TPP following the U.S. withdrawal, and to reiterate concerns raised with you previously regarding its negative impacts on people’s right to health, access to affordable medicines, and the ability of governments to regulate health-damaging activities of corporations.
[ReCreate press release, Link (CC-BY)] As the Trump Administration notifies Congress of its intent to negotiate changes to NAFTA, the Re:Create Coalition today issued a statement urging the Office of the United States Trade Representative to include language on copyright limitations and exceptions, including fair use, if copyright law is part of the negotiations:
Today, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer formally notified Congress of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), via a letter to Congressional leadership. The letter is less detailed than last March’s draft notification, and unlike the March draft, it includes no specific negotiating objectives. Rather, the letter that was sent today notes “our aim is that NAFTA be modernized to include new provisions to address intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs, procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labor, environment, and small and medium enterprises.” The letter also says that the Administration will develop negotiating positions that are consistent with the objectives found in Section 102 of the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act.
Jeremy de Beer, Jeremiah Baarbé, Caroline Ncube
Open AIR Working Paper #4; LINK
Innovation policy is important for economic growth and human development. Countries across Africa are, therefore, developing policy to encourage innovation. Measures that address intellectual property (IP) in a locally relevant way are integral to the broader innovation landscape.
IP policy is complex and controversial because it seeks to balance protection of, and access to, knowledge. Policy that leads to either an absence or overabundance of proprietary IP rights may discourage innovation. Domestic policymakers may look to research showing that strict IP protection economically advantages developed countries while disadvantaging developing countries. Similarly, they may be presented with research supporting a contrary view. Evidence-based IP policy-making is, therefore, not always easy.
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.
Here is the Trump administration’s draft notice of intent to renegotiate NAFTA, which was put out by Inside U.S. Trade. The administration says many elements of the agreement as it currently stands are “clearly outdated,” and that FTA provisions on intellectual property rights have been “improved in newer trade agreements.”
A few excerpts of interest to readers of this blog follow. These are what are listed in the letter as “specific negotiating objectives.”
Abstract: The upward-ratcheting of patent protection through trade agreements has generated significant concerns about potential effects on prices of drugs and access to medicines in developing countries. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) included even more extensive pharmaceutical patent provisions than any before. While President Trump withdrew the US as a signatory to the TPP, the potential for new trade agreements to raise the same set of concerns generated by the TPP remains high. Previous work assessing the TPP argued that new data on pharmaceutical expenditures (and other measures) from countries with recent trade agreements with the U.S. indicated that concerns about pharmaceutical patent protection and drug prices are overblown and it may be time to move on from these debates.
Civil Society Statement circulated by Haochen Sun, Associate Professor of Law and Director, Law and Technology Centre, The University of Hong Kong. Click here to sign the Statement. Click here to download the Statement.
Introduction: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) aims to conclude a comprehensive agreement that promotes free trade and investment among Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). As a hallmark of this proposed agreement, the RCEP Intellectual Property (IP) Chapter will set out a host of minimum standards for IP protection in the sixteen participating countries.
We are deeply concerned about the copyright protection standards proposed for the RCEP IP Chapter. They may cause unintended effects of stifling creativity, free speech, and economic growth. We urge that the new rounds of RCEP negotiations reconsider those standards by applying the following three principles:
[Reposted from blog.ffii.org] The following is an excerpt from the full working paper Multilateral Investment Court Assessment Obscures Social and Environmental Impacts, available here.
Copyright does not work well in the digital world; the patent system is inefficient. Our societies could benefit from reform. 33 The WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and other international agreements limit possibilities for reform. Expansive interpretation of international treaties would further limit our policy space.