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No One’s “Signed Away” the Right to Unlock Cell Phones

March 14, 2013 DMCA , DRM , Forum Shopping , USTR

Several people have raised the specter of trade agreements standing in the way of cell phone unlocking. The basic idea is that, in a broad trade negotiation between the US and South Korea (and in a number of others), the two countries agreed to make sure their copyright laws had certain similar features. Among those were requirements that they have laws against breaking digital locks to access copyrighted works, and that they only have certain kinds of exemptions to them. Cell phone unlocking is not one of the specific exemptions.

Mike Masnick at Techdirt characterizes this (at least in the article’s title) as the US “signing away” its ability to enact a more permanent exemption for phone unlocking.

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TPP and a Very Basic Point About Transparency

May 14, 2012 ACTA , Enforcement , Forum Shopping , International , Transparency

If you’ve been following this space, you’ve likely seen that Public Knowledge was on the ground in Dallas this past weekend, covering the latest round of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, or TPP. Among the various problems with the agreement itself (possible increases to already-draconian copyright penalties internationally, increased emphasis on protecting DRM, a lack of inclusion of well-established limitations and exceptions like library uses and fair use), there’s the fact that the agreement itself remains a closely guarded secret. The public is apparently not allowed to see even the opening positions their governments are making in negotiations.

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Is ACTA Binding? Depends on Where You Ask

March 8, 2012 ACTA , Enforcement , Forum Shopping , International , Transparency

There’s been a fair bit of coverage about this letter sent from the State Department in response to Senator Ron Wyden’s questions about how much the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (“ACTA”) binds the U.S. It’s a current question because among the many questions swirling around ACTA, one is whether it “binds” the United States to its terms. The answer from the State Department is “yes”—but that may not actually mean what it appears to at first, and the reason for that has to do with why I’ve placed the word “binds” in scare quotes above.

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ACTA: the Big Deal

January 27, 2012 ACTA , Enforcement , Forum Shopping , International , Special 301

ACTA (the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is making a lot of news these days, with lots of people comparing it unfavorably to PIPA and SOPA. A lot of that coverage has been focused on Europe and particularly Poland, where the Polish government’s signing of the agreement has sparked considerable protest.

So is this a big deal, and if so, why is domestic coverage of it so muted in comparison to SOPA and PIPA?

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More Domain Seizures from DOJ/ICE: Spanish Website Seized Despite Legal Status in Spain

February 1, 2011 DMCA , Enforcement , Forum Shopping , International , Piracy

According to Techdirt and Torrentfreak, the Department of Justice and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement have seized more domains on the grounds of copyright infringement (coverage of earlier seizures here, here, and here). Notably among them is the Spanish site Rojadirecta.org now redirects to a DOJ/ICE splash page identical to those used in earlier seizures.

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