Entries Matching: Limitations & Exceptions
Yesterday, we were treated to news of a very positive development from Europe: the European Parliament voted, by a massive majority (478-39), to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
This rejection comes after more than five years of negotiations that were plagued by controversy and outcry against ACTA’s secretive process. So what should you make of this rejection and what lessons should future trade negotiators learn from the ACTA experience?
For one, it should be apparent that the negotiating process is just as important as the substance. Shutting out the public and their representatives and giving privileged access to the entertainment and pharmaceutical industries severely undermines the legitimacy of the negotiating exercise.
PK and others have argued for a long time that international agreements, including the proposed Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) must include mandatory provisions on limitations and exceptions. These provisions must promote fair use of works and also generally reflect the robust user rights that that US copyright system seeks to promote. Perhaps as an acknowledgement of the concerns that these arguments reflect, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has announced that it is proposing a provision on limitations and exceptions in the TPP.
Today, a group of public interest organizations, including Public Knowledge, launched a petition asking the Obama administration to affirm the concept of ownership rights—the idea that consumers should actually fully own the things that they buy.
This may seem like a fairly obvious concept not in need of affirming, but the fact of the matter is that increasingly bizarre interpretations of copyright law threaten to make it illegal for you to sell, lend, or give away many of the things you own.
Yesterday, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), along with several other government agencies, held a hearing on its Special 301 process. This hearing was part of the process by which the USTR compiles a list of countries that do not provide “adequate and effective protection” to the intellectual property rights of U.S. persons or deny market access to them. I testified on behalf of Public Knowledge. A copy of my testimony is available here.
Who would have thought that closed captioning could become the next big copyright fight? Yesterday Public Knowledge filed reply comments in an FCC proceeding implementing new video closed captioning rules under the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (“CVAA”). Other commenters in the proceeding argued that copyright protections prevent video programming distributors from adding or improving captions to videos that don’t meet the CVAA’s requirements. PK stepped in to point out that even if captioning infringes copyright (which is unlikely), copyright, like any other private right, is subject to constitutional laws and regulations. Copyright does not trump a captioning law any more than real property rights trump the Americans with Disabilities Act.