Canada, Special 301 and NAFTA

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This is the time of year when the US Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) goes through its annual “Special 301” exercise to prepare a report for the US Congress evaluating the state of intellectual property (IP) protection in countries around the world with a view to identifying those states with shortcomings that negatively affect US industries that rely on IP rights. As I noted in my blog at about the same time last year, the Special 301 law was enacted by the US Congress in 1988 with a view to providing for;

“the development of an overall strategy to ensure adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights and fair and equitable market access for United States persons that rely on protection of intellectual property rights.” Continue reading “Canada, Special 301 and NAFTA”

Copyright in Canada: When Ten Percent is Too Much

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While the assault on writers and publishers by the university community in Canada continues, based on the dubious proposition that the educational exception for fair dealing means that institutions of higher learning no longer need to obtain licences to reproduce material in course packs and other classroom material, there is some hope for redress through the courts. On February 9 the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned a ruling from a year earlier by the Quebec Superior Court thus allowing the Société québécoise de gestion collective des droits de reproduction (Copibec for short) to bring a class action suit against Université Laval on behalf of all authors and publishers from Quebec, the rest of Canada and other countries.” The lawsuit in Quebec parallels the one in English Canada where the copyright collective, Access Copyright, is suing York University (and indirectly most other post-secondary institutions in the rest of Canada) for similar infringements. Continue reading “Copyright in Canada: When Ten Percent is Too Much”

Who Does OpenMedia Really Speak For?

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The other day an alarming message crossed my screen. “Stop the Censorship Machine”, it screamed to me in bold type. Whoa. This looks serious. I had better read on. Continue reading “Who Does OpenMedia Really Speak For?”

Is the TPP really “dead”? Maybe not if you believe in “Twelve minus One”

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Late last year, after Mr. Trump’s election but before his inauguration, I wrote a blog on the “Demise of the TPP and its Impact on Copyright”. The President-elect had declared the TPP to be “a potential disaster for our country” and “the death blow for American manufacturing”. He stated that he would notify the TPP partners of the intent of the United States to withdraw from the Agreement as soon as he became President. And he was true to his word, signing an Executive Order to that effect on January 23. Continue reading “Is the TPP really “dead”? Maybe not if you believe in “Twelve minus One””

“Minding the Gap” in Canada: But Which Gap?

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An interesting “gap analysis” argument has been taking place in Canada, played out in op-eds in insider news outlets such as Ottawa’s Hill Times (sorry, subscription only) and in broader discussion forums. The debate, if I can call it that, was initiated by Michael Geist, a prolific commentator on copyright and technology issues, who is based at the University of Ottawa. According to Dr. Geist, there is a “fair dealing gap” in Canada as a result of copyright reforms in 2012 that allowed Canada to implement the WIPO Internet treaties that it had signed a number of years previously. This alleged “fair dealing gap”, according to Geist, is a result of the Technological Protection Measures (TPM) provisions that were established as part of the legislation. These provisions prevent illegal circumvention of the digital protections rights-holders place on their content in order to control and prevent unauthorized access to that content. Continue reading ““Minding the Gap” in Canada: But Which Gap?”

The GIPC Index: Measuring Global IP Standards

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Mark Twain is reported to have said there are, “lies, damned lies, and statistics”. Just about anything can be measured but, as the economists say, it all depends on the assumptions (the design of the study) and, of course, the data. The better and more objective the design, the better will be the results. The same goes for the data. A just-released study by the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) of the US Chamber of Commerce meets the criteria of both good design and strong data points. Continue reading “The GIPC Index: Measuring Global IP Standards”

Here Come the Vikings: Piracy in the Nordic World

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What is it about Scandinavia and piracy? In Iceland the Pirate Party was touted to win the recent general election and form a government, going from just three members in the Icelandic Parliament, or Althing, to being the largest party among the more than dozen parties represented in the Parliament. In the end the Pirates made strong gains, more than tripling their seat representation, to 10 members in the 63 seat Parliament, although a conservative party won the most seats. It took many months to form a governing coalition and for a time it looked as if the Pirate Party would be asked to lead the formation of a government, but in the end they “sailed away”. After weeks of negotiations a government has just been formed, but without Pirate representation. Continue reading “Here Come the Vikings: Piracy in the Nordic World”