Dec 142011
 

Tomorrow the House Judiciary Committee will vote on HR 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would give intellectual property right holders and the Department of Justice new weapons to use against websites that host infringing content.

The legislation is supported by companies relying on intellectual property and their trade associations, but it is opposed by a wide array of other interests, including internet service providers, advocates of free speech, consumer groups, and copyright experts.  The bill would lead to censorship and greater monitoring of people’s internet use, which a majority of Americans oppose.

A survey of SOPA warnings and criticisms follows.

Opposition from American public

A recent survey by Joe Karaganis at Columbia University found that “Solid majorities of American internet users oppose copyright enforcement when it is perceived to intrude on personal rights and freedoms. 69% oppose monitoring of their internet activity for the purposes of enforcement. 57% oppose blocking or filtering by commercial intermediaries if those measures also block some legal content or activity.”

Opposition from businesses

The founders of Google, Netscape, Firefox, Twitter, Flickr, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Huffington Post, YouTube, Internet Archive, PayPal, Craigslist, eBay, Wikipedia, and Blogger have run a full page ad in most major newpapers warning that SOPA threatens to “require webservices… to monitor what users link to or upload. This would have a chilling effect on innovation; deny website owners the right to due process of law; Give the U.S. government the power to cnesor the web using technologies similar to those used by Chinak Malaysia and Iran; and Undermine security online by changing the basic structure of the internet.” Continue reading »

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Dec 122011
 

Rep. Darrell Issa has posted the text of the Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (the OPEN Act) on an interactive webpage – http://keepthewebopen.com/ – that allows people to comment on the text.  The legislation is meant to offer an alternative to the Stop Online Piracy Act, which has generated alarm among computer users and tech companies.  The OPEN Act would allow IP owners to petition the International Trade Commission to issue cease-and-desist orders against foreign websites that are “primarily” and “willfully” engaged in copyright infringement.  A cease and desist order would compel financial intermediaries and advertisers to cease providing services to the foreign websites.

Meanwhile, criticism of SOPA continues: Continue reading »

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Dec 122011
 

As trade negotiators meet in Malaysia for further talks on the Trans Pacific Partnership, a number of reports and statements have been released on the impact of the intellectual property provisions proposed by the United States.  Some critics focus on the impact that the U.S. proposals may have on access to medicines and the functioning of the internet, others describe the effect of the IP provisions on access to copyrighted works and the functioning of the internet.

Sen. Sanders wrote USTR Ron Kirk to voice his “strong objection to the apparent reversal of United States trade policy during negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement with respect to ensuring access to medicines for our developing country trade partners.” He asked that the “May 10” 2007 policy compromise on data exclusivity and patent term extensions be incorporated into the IP chapter.  He said other principles be incorporated into the TPP agreement – TRIPS flexibilities should apply to all diseases and medical conditions; TPP should reflect different levels of development in negotiating countries; patent provisions should not require the patenting of “new forms of old products without increase in therapeutic efficacy”; and no prohibition of pre-grant patent opposition.  Continue reading »

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Dec 122011
 

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently announced the creation of a portal that “presents a current snapshot of the status of Open Access (OA) to scientific information around the world. For countries that have been more successful implementing Open Access, the portal highlights critical success factors and aspects of the enabling environment. For countries and regions that are still in the early stages of Open Access development, the portal identifies key players, potential barriers and opportunities.  The Global Open Access Portal is designed to provide the necessary information for policy-makers to learn about the global OA environment and to view their country’s status, and understand where and why Open Access has been most successful.”  The project was funded by Colombia, Denmark, Norway, and the U.S. Continue reading »

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Ten Members of Congress Drafting Legislation for an Alternative to SOPA

 Posted by on December 5, 2011  Comments Off on Ten Members of Congress Drafting Legislation for an Alternative to SOPA
Dec 052011
 

Senators Cantwell, Moran, Warner and Wyden, and Representatives Chaffetz, Campbell, Doggett, Eshoo and Lofgren have released a discussion document summarizing IP legislation they are currently drafting to serve as an alternative to the Stop Online Piracy Act.  It would allow IP owners to petition the International Trade Commission to issue cease-and-desist orders against foreign websites that are “primarily” and “willfully” engaged in copyright infringement or “willfully enabling imports of counterfeit merchandise.”  A cease and desist order would compel financial intermediaries and advertisers to cease providing services to the foreign websites. Continue reading »

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The Link Between Piracy and Organized Crime

 Posted by on December 1, 2011  Comments Off on The Link Between Piracy and Organized Crime
Dec 012011
 

Well, McGruff the Crime Dog has been dusted off for the fight against piracy, as part of a new  Department of Justice-led campaign that Nate Anderson accurately calls “Reefer Madness for the digital age.”  Our work on organized crime is getting some renewed attention in this context.  Rather than rehash the  argument or send you to the full report, here are some greatest hits:

Does Crime Pay? All the best excerpts on organized crime from the report in 15 pages. Continue reading »

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Nov 282011
 

The Stop Online Piracy Act is scheduled for markup in the House Judiciary Committee on December 15.  An aide to Rep. Lamar Smith (sponsor of the bill and chairman of the committee) told the Washington Post “He is open to changes but only legitimate changes. Some site are totally capable of filtering illegal content, but they won’t and are instead profiting from the traffic of illegal content.”

Meanwhile, opposition to the legislation and its Senate counterpart (the PROTECT-IP Act) have been growing.   Yahoo! quit the Chamber of Commerce over its support of the laws, and Google has suggested it may do the same.  The Business Software Alliance has stated that it does not support the legislation as it is currently written.  Over 100,000 people have asked Sen. Wyden to read their names during a filibuster.

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News from the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights

 Posted by on November 28, 2011  Comments Off on News from the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights
Nov 282011
 

WIPO’s 23rd session of its Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights is taking place in Geneva November 22 – December 2.   The session is debating a treaty on limitations and exceptions on libraries and archives; another on limitations and exceptions for visually impaired people; and one for the protection of related rights for broadcasting organizations. Two documents are under discussion are: a “Working Document on an International instrument on Limitations and Exceptions for Persons with Print Disabilities.” and a “Draft Compilation on Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries and Archives.” Continue reading »

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WTO Members Asked to Consider Extension of TRIPS Deadline for Least Developed Countries

 Posted by on November 18, 2011  Comments Off on WTO Members Asked to Consider Extension of TRIPS Deadline for Least Developed Countries
Nov 182011
 

The World Trade Organization’s TRIPS Council will ask Member states to consider a request from Least Developed Countries for an extension of the deadline for their compliance with the TRIPS Agreement. IP Watch reports that Bangladesh presented the TRIPS Council with the request, which recognizes that “Least Developed Country Members continue to face serious economic, financial and administrative constraints in their efforts to bring their domestic legal system into conformity with the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement.”  Continue reading »

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Nov 182011
 

On November 16, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the controversial legislation introduced by Rep. Smith to give the executive branch and IP owners more tools to fight online piracy.

Witnesses who testified represented the U.S. Copyright Office, Pfizer, the Motion Picture Association of America, Mastercard, Google, and the AFL-CIO.  All of the witnesses except for Katherine Oyama (Google) supported the legislation, and most of the Members of the Committee seemed to support it as well. Continue reading »

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Nov 142011
 

Trans Pacific Partnership negotiators released a “Trade Ministers’ Report to Leaders” at the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) that offered little detail about the status of negotiations.  Some observers had expected the report to contain a July 2012 deadline for the completion of negotiations, but no deadline was included.  (U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Mike Froman told reporters at a press briefing that “There is no firm deadline.”)  Continue reading »

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Nov 112011
 

H.R. 3261 – Stopping Online Piracy Act (SOPA), recently introduced in the House by Lamar Smith, has received criticism from Members of Congress, Internet Service Providers, Library Associations, and civil society groups.  Initial reactions from Public Knowledge, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Center for Democracy and Technology are here. Below are highlights from more recent warnings about the legislation.

Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Darrell Issa wrote an open letter to the Members of the House Judiciary Committee warning that the H.R. 3261 “would give the government sweeping new powers to order Internet Service Providers to implement various filtering technologies on their networks. It would also create new forms of private legal action against websites – cutting them off from payment and advertising providers by default, without any court review, upon a complaint from any copyright owner, even one whose work is not necessarily being infringed.”  Continue reading »

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