What Is the Status of Copyright Reform in Colombia?

[Carolina Botero] Bearing in Mind that Colombia’s anticipated copyright reform is essential meant to fulfill its commitments under the FTA with the USA (which focuses on the  commercial interests of the rightholders), 2013 was still an interesting year for the “positive agenda” that the country’s Karisma Foundation is pushing.  The positive agenda has exceptions at its central axis, which are understood as guarantees of fundamental rights and not as favors for the holders. Click here for more.

Senators Durbin and Franken’s Letter   Seeking Support for Open Textbooks Legislation in the U.S.

Textbook costs are often substantial for stunts and can be a barrier to attaining a college education. According to the College Board, the average student spent $1,200 on college books and supplies during the 2012-13 academic year.  The price of new textbooks has increased 82% over the last decade according to GAO, and yet, textbook costs are one of the most overlooked impediments to college affordability and access. The Affordable College Textbook Act (S.1704) would address this problem by providing grants to colleges and universities to create and expand the use of open textbooks. Click here for the full letter.

Related:  U.S. PIRG Study Shows Students Opting Out of Buying High-Cost Textbooks (Link)

Pharmagate and the Economics of Patent Reform in South Africa

[Marcus Low] We are deeply perturbed by revelations in last Friday’s Mail & Guardian exposing what appears to be a very well-funded, covert plot by foreign pharmaceutical companies and their local subsidiaries to delay a democratic law reform process in South Africa. The law reform concerns the new draft intellectual property policy developed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). This policy has already been delayed for many years. The leaked documents expose a secretive US$ 500,000 plot to delay the policy even further. Click here for more.

Transformativeness on Trial: Account of U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Court, IP and the Internet Hearing on Fair Use

[Brandon Butler] The House Judiciary Committee IP Subcommittee held a hearing last week on “The Scope of Fair Use.” … our own professor Peter Jaszi was on the panel. As it turns out, Professor Jaszi’s presence was extremely fortuitous, as the hearing turned out to be a hearing not so much about fair use generally, but about the merits and demerits of the courts’ use of “transformativeness” analysis as a way of making sense of fair use. The T-word was first deployed by federal judge Pierre N. Leval in a landmark law review article in 1990, and was shortly thereafter incorporated into the Supreme Court’s landmark fair use decision, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose. Click here for more.

See also: Accounts of the hearing from ARL and EFF

WIPO: Developing Countries Oppose Proposals on Work-sharing in Patents Committee

[Alexandra Bhattacharya and K.M. Gopakumar] Developing countries, during a discussion in WIPO on quality of patents, questioned the value of work-sharing arrangements among national/regional patent offices as a method of improving the quality of patents, and opposed efforts by developed countries to mainstream “work-sharing” in WIPO. The 20th session of the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents is meeting in Geneva from January 27-31, 2014. Click here for more.

Copyright, Permissions, and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities

[Peter Jaszi, Patricia Aufderheide, Bryan Bello and Tijana Milosevic] The College Art Association has commenced a project … to develop a Codes of Best Practice in the Creation and Curation of Artworks and Scholarly Publishing in the Visual Arts.  The first phase of the project was to conduct “interviews with one hundred visual arts professionals and a survey of CAA members” and produce a report on “current practices and attitudes among visual arts practitioners (including artists, scholars, editors, and curators) regarding copyright and fair use.” Click here for more.

TPP Threatens Human Rights in Chile’s Digital Environment

[Francisco Vera] The greatest threat to human rights in Chile’s digital environment is not posed by a lawsuit or bill but by a free trade agreement known as the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). Negotiations for this agreement are being secretly conducted among 12 countries from the Asian Pacific and most of the information available about these negotiations was leaked by some of its chapters. Click here for more.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global IP Index Measures Law and Practice in 25 Countries – What Determines the Scores?

[Mike Palmedo] Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released the second edition of its Global Intellectual Property Index, a report which grades countries on the strength of their IP protection.  This year’s index covers 25 countries, including all of the BRICS and most of the countries in the TPP negotiations.  Countries are evaluated among 30 individual factors, which fall into one of six categories – Patents, Related Rights, and Limitations; Copyrights, Related Rights, and Limitations; Trademarks, Related Rights, and Limitations; Trade Secrets and Market Access; Enforcement; and Membership and Ratification of International Treaties. Click here for more.

No IPR protection for modern yoga technique

[L. Gopika] Early this month, the Delhi High Court in the case of Institute for Inner Studies v. Charlotte Anderson discussed the important issues of whether yoga asanas or Pranic Healing are entitled to copyright or trademark protection. The plaintiffs argued that the defendants’ use of the yoga techniques, practices and other teachings invented by the Master Choa Kok Sui (the Master)  without the prior authorization of the plaintiffs was not permissible as firstly, it amounted to an infringement of the copyright in literary works under the Copyright Act, 1957, secondly, the yoga postures and Asanas which state the manner of performing the Pranic Healing is a choreography work that deserves protection as a dramatic expression and thirdly, the term ‘Pranic Healing’ is a trademark that has achieved distinctiveness owing to longstanding use and the same has been associated only with the Master and therefore ought to be protected. Click here for the full post on Spicy IP

Sen. Hatch – Obama Administration Should More Aggressively Use Trade Policy to Strengthen Intellectual Property Worldwide

[Mike Palmedo] Last week, Sen. Orrin Hatch spoke about international intellectual property issues at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  He…  argued that American history has shown strong intellectual property (IP) leads to prosperity. Research has shown that increased IP leads all countries to enjoy greater foreign direct investment, technology transfer and innovation. However, the “lesson is lost” in the developing world where countries try to develop through “short cuts” that “undermine” and “steal” U.S. innovation.  Click here for more.