Workshop Commends South Africa Copyright Bill Goals; Offers Suggestions for Improvement

[Sean Flynn] A workshop of academics and stakeholders on Internet Rights, Cultural Development and Balancing Features in South African Copyright Reform commended South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for its public release of a Copyright Amendment Bill that would expand and clarify many user rights in the Copyright Act. The general message from the stakeholders at the meeting to DTI was that the reform bill succeeds in addressing many of the most pressing issues for copyright reform today, putting in place a good structure through which the details of the provisions can be analyzed and improved. Click here for more.

See also: Linda Daniels for IP Watch. Conference Looks At Public Interest In South Africa’s Draft Copyright Bill. Link.

Pharma Attempts to Undermine South African Patent Law Reform & Access to Affordable Medicines

[Marcus Low, Borrie LaGrange, Umunyana Rugege] A submission to the United States Government shows South Africa is facing pressure from the pharmaceutical industry to backtrack on intellectual property (IP) law reform that aims to improve access to medicines in exchange for eligibility for ongoing inclusion in the United States’ African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Doctors Without Borders (MSF), SECTION27 and the Stop Stock Outs Project (SSP), as members of the Fix the Patent Laws coalition, are deeply concerned by such requests. Click here for more.

See also: Public Citizen and Health GAP. Comments in Response to the Out-of-Cycle Eligibility Review for South Africa to Receive Benefits under AGOA. Link.

An Open Letter to the Sponsors of the Revised Defend Trade Secrets Act

[David Levine and Sharon K. Sandeen] We write to express our continued concerns about the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) and our willingness to assist you in determining how best to improve enforcement of legitimate trade secret rights… In the July 29, 2015 press release announcing the new DTSA, the sponsors again identify the harm that they seek to address, namely, that “trade secrets can be stolen with a few keystrokes, and increasingly, they are stolen at the direction of a foreign government or for the benefit of a foreign competitor.” To justify the DTSA, the release argues that (a) current federal criminal law is “insufficient,” (b) the Department of Justice “lacks the resources” to prosecute (presumably) Economic Espionage Act (“EEA”) cases, (c) state law has not stopped “interstate” theft, and (d) Federal courts would be more effective in case administration and discovery. Click here for more.

Ecuador Seeks to Increase Penalties for Copyright and Trademark Infringement

[Marcela Palacio Puerta] The Ecuadorian Commission on Justice and Structure of the State has initiated a plan to socialize potential reforms to the criminal code. This includes changing penalties for copyright and trademark piracy. This reform is intended to bring the country into compliance with its TRIPS requirements. It seeks to punish commercial scale piracy with fines to exceed fifty thousand dollars. Nonetheless, representatives of the entertainment industry have questioned the inability of the reform to punish every type of infringer. Click here for more.

Current Copyright Policy Tendencies in 2015: Further Weakening of Limits and Exceptions and the Ever Reducing Public Domain

[Rodrigo Cetina Presuel and Loreto Corredoira y Alfonso] Abstract: In 2015, Spain’s new copyright law entered into effect including many new provisions including one that requires Universities to pay Collecting Societies for using manuals and textbooks made available online in virtual campuses. This license cannot be waived and means that Universities have to pay even for works released under free licenses, such as Creative Commons, and for works already in the public domain. This weakens the protection offered by limits such as the one in favor of educational uses (art. 32 of the Spanish copyright act) and also reduces the public domain as it establishes unalienable licenses for content no longer in copyright. Click here for more.

The Patent Case that Threatens the Internet

[K. William Watson] The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard oral arguments today in a case about dental retainers that could threaten the free flow of information over the Internet.  The question is whether the U.S. International Trade Commission has the authority to bar the “importation” of digital transmissions.  The case has serious implication for the future of 3D printing, internet service providers’ liability for copyright piracy, and the internet’s global infrastructure. Click here for more.