Oct 302017

Today Sean Flynn and I are releasing the initial results of our research based on PIJIP’s Copyright User Rights Database. This research tool maps changes to copyright limitations and exceptions and other “user rights” from 1970 through 2016 in 21 countries of different development levels around the world. We intend to continue adding data from additional countries, but we feel that the current data allows us to begin demonstrating how differences in copyright user rights are associated with certain outcomes for innovative firms and researchers.

Our first results are based on tests of copyright limitation openness. We refer to “open” limitations 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.  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)


The Freedom of Expression Contours of Copyright in the Digital Era: A European Perspective

 Posted by on July 26, 2016  Comments Off on The Freedom of Expression Contours of Copyright in the Digital Era: A European Perspective
Jul 262016

izyumenkoAuthor: Elena Izyumenko

Abstract: This paper analyses the influence of the right to freedom of expression and information on European copyright law in the digital context. Drawing on the practice of the two major European courts – the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) – it begins by exploring how this fundamental right shapes both the scope of copyright protection in Europe and what is traditionally termed as “exceptions and limitations” to exclusive rights. Specifically, a long-standing practice of the ECtHR, in accordance with which copyright in turn may be viewed as an exception to freedom of expression and must hence be narrowly interpreted, is scrutinized. Continue reading »

Nov 302015

communia[Cross posted from the Communia Assoc., Link (CC-0)] How to secure user rights in education? This was the question we asked during a policy debate organised by Communia and hosted by MEP Michał Boni in the European Parliament on the 17th of November. Panelists, politicians and stakeholders participating in this debate discussed two approaches: the creation and use of Open Educational Resources (OER), and a progressive copyright reform for education. While these issues are usually presented separately, as Communia we see them as two aspects of a single effort to ensure user rights in education. Continue reading »

Sep 172015

South African FlagLetter from South African and American Academics to Ms Meshendri Padayachi
South Africa Department of Trade and Industry

Joint Academic Comment (PDF)
Accompanying Table (PDF)

We write in response to your request for public comments on South Africa’s planned copyright legislation reform. We’re grateful for the chance to make a contribution in support of this extraordinary effort on the part of the Department of Trade and Industry to modernize South African copyright law and – in so doing – to make South Africa an international leader in the field at a critical moment in its history. Continue reading »


Copyright in a Digital Ecosystem: A User-Rights Approach

 Posted by on August 5, 2015  Comments Off on Copyright in a Digital Ecosystem: A User-Rights Approach
Aug 052015

Author: Niva Elkin-Koren

Abstract: The rights of users of copyrighted materials are growing in significance. This is the result of fundamental changes in the creative ecosystem that pull in opposite directions: on the one hand, the flourishing of user-generated content places individual users at the forefront of creative processes, strengthening the need to facilitate unlicensed use of creative materials. On the other hand, digital distribution, cloud computing and mobile Internet strengthen restrictions on the freedom of users to access, experience, transform and share creative materials. Continue reading »


Notes on TACD Hill Briefing on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Access to Knowledge, and Digital Rights

 Posted by on June 26, 2014  Comments Off on Notes on TACD Hill Briefing on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Access to Knowledge, and Digital Rights
Jun 262014

tacd_th_198x80Yesterday the Trans-Atlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) held an event on Capitol Hill about the trade agreement currently under negotiation by the US and the EU – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Videos of presentations have been posted to YouTube by Knowledge Ecology International. This blog is a quick writeup of the first panel, which discussed the agreement’s potential impact on access to knowledge and digital rights. Continue reading »


Economists Discuss the State of Empirical Research on Copyright User Rights At American University Event

 Posted by on September 27, 2013  Comments Off on Economists Discuss the State of Empirical Research on Copyright User Rights At American University Event
Sep 272013

auYesterday, American University’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property held an even the Law and Economics of Copyright Users’ Rights.  The event was the launch of an interdisciplinary project to conduct empirical research on the effects of flexibility in copyright law, including both the effects on consumer welfare and on innovation in the technology and creative industries. The project involves both law professors and econmics professors from AU, and like much of our other work, will be done with partners from institutions around the world.

The webcast and speaker presentations from yesterday’s event are online here.  A very brief description of the first panel is below, and a description of the second panel will be posted on the blog shortly. Continue reading »


Solving the Orphan Works Problem for the United States

 Posted by on September 20, 2013  Comments Off on Solving the Orphan Works Problem for the United States
Sep 202013

ssrnAuthors: David Hansen, Kathryn Hashimoto, Gwen Hinze, Pamela Samuelson and Jennifer Urban

Abstract: Over the last decade, the problem of orphan works — i.e., copyrighted works whose owners cannot be located by a reasonably diligent search — has come sharply into focus as libraries, archives, and other large repositories of copyrighted works have sought to digitize and make available their collections online. Although this problem is certainly not limited to digital libraries, it has proven especially challenging for these organizations because they hold diverse collections that include millions of books, articles, letters, photographs, home movies, films, and other types of works. Many items come with a complex, unknown, and (often) unknowable history of copyright ownership. Because U.S. copyright law provides for both strong injunctive relief and monetary damages (in the form of statutory damages of up to $150,000 per work infringed), organizations that cannot obtain permission often do not make their collections available at all. Continue reading »