TPP Ministers Meet in Singapore

Trade Ministers met this past weekend to work towards finalization of the Trans Pacific Partnership, but press reports indicate that progress is slow.  Public interest statements put out in advance of the negotiations included:

  • Jane Kelsey. TPPA Ministers Set to Make Crucial IP Decisions This Weekend in Singapore Link
  • Susan Chalmers. Where Policy Fora Collide: Country-Code Top-Level Domains and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.
  • Medicines San Fronteires. MSF Urges TPP Countries Not to Abandon Public Health in Bid to Finalize Trade Deal. Link

GIPC IP Index: Propagating Imaginary IP norms

[Swaraj Paul Barooah] One would expect that the US Chamber of Commerce would have enough funds to commission a thorough and well researched report whenever they were to do so. Yet, their GIPC IP Index 2014 is what I would call a thoroughly embarrassing example of research methodology, let alone something that can be passed off as a useful “international index”. Is it a coincidence that the report comes up with results that favour some of industries well known for their lobbying in the United States – Big Pharma and the Tobacco lobby being the clearest examples? Click here for more.

USTR Accepts Business Proposal to Segregate Public Interest in Advisory Committees

[Sean Flynn] United States Trade Representative Froman announced yesterday that his agency will create a public interest trade advisory committee (PITAC) for academics and NGOs as part of the trade advisory committee structure. But instead of including public interest representatives within Industry Trade Advisory Committees, USTR has accepted the proposal of industry representatives to segregate non-industry views into a separate committee. Click here for more.

The Australian Law Reform Commission Recommends Fair Use, Europe Next?

[Paul Keller] With the EU consultation on a review of the European Copyright rules still ongoing (the new extended deadline is the 5th of March) it is nice to see that some other countries are apparently making progress with their national copyright reform agendas. One of the most interesting bits of news is coming out of Australia. The Australian Law Reform Commission has just published its report on Copyright and the Digital Economy. At the centerpiece of this report we find the recommendation to replace the existing system of purpose-based exceptions with a flexible fair use style exception. Click here for more. 

Graphics on U.S. Pharmaceutical Exports to India, Patents, the Compulsory License, and Prices

[Mike Palmedo]  The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is currently investigating “Indian industrial policies that discriminate against U.S. imports… and the effect those barriers have on the U.S. economy and U.S. jobs.”… Below I’ve posted a few graphics to show that the experience of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry has been largely positive.  They are followed by one graphic comparing prices offered by Bayer and Natco to Indian income by quintile. Click here for more.

European Union Sees Flurry Of Activity On Copyright Policy

[Julie Fraser] There have been several important developments related to copyright in the European Union in the past week. Below is a summary [covering] clickable links to copyrighted material, private copying levy systems, [and] collective rights management. Click here for the full story on IP Watch.

Copyright and Inequality

[Lea Shaver] The prevailing theory of copyright law imagines a marketplace efficiently serving up new works to an undifferentiated world of consumers. Yet the reality is that all consumers are not equal. The majority of the world’s people experience copyright law not as a boon to consumer choice, but as a barrier to acquiring knowledge and taking part in cultural life. The resulting patterns of privilege and disadvantage, moreover, reinforce and perpetuate preexisting social divides. Class and culture combine to explain who wins, and who loses, from copyright protection. Along the dimension of class, the insight is that just because new works are created does not mean that most people can afford them. Copyright protection inflates the price of cultural works, with implications for cultural participation and distributive justice, as well as economic efficiency. Along the dimension of culture, the insight is that is not enough for copyright theory to speak generally of new works; it matters crucially what language those works are created in. Copyright is likely to be an ineffective incentive system for the production of works in “neglected languages” – those spoken predominantly by poor people. This article highlights and explores these relationships between copyright and social inequality, offering a new perspective on what is at stake in debates over copyright reform. Click here for the full paper on SSRN.