US copyright law is a set of relationships, a system to reward creators on their work while simultaneously allowing others to comment and criticize their work. This principle, that users like libraries, educators, artists, documentarians, and journalists, also have rights in the copyright system, is recognized in other countries as well.
Public Knowledge's Position
There is a danger in international forums for disproportionate escalation of rights because there is a often lack of transparency, the negotiations are obscure, and the debates are easily disregarded as "far away". When seeking policy changes that would otherwise be unpopular domestically, big industry players often turn to international forums. Furthermore, once harmful provisions are codified in international rules, they are harder to change domestically.
Since its founding, Public Knowledge has kept an eye on and participated in international institutions, treaties, and agreements that potentially disrupt the balance of copyright. PK is dedicated to preventing IP expansionism, promoting limitations and exceptions, and addressing deep-seated problems with process in the international arena.
Here are some of the specific agreements, institutions, and processes in which PK is involved:
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is an international agreement with several fundamental problems in both process and content. The ACTA process was shrouded in secrecy and placed civil society groups like PK at a severe disadvantage. And while the final ACTA text is significantly improved from earlier draft texts, many concerns remain.
WIPO Broadcasting Treaty
The WIPO Broadcasting Treaty (officially, the WIPO Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations) is a proposal within the World Intellectual Property Organization to give broadcasters intellectual property rights in their signals, in addition to the copyrights held by the creators of the works.
Public Knowledge opposes the treaty, as it would create numerous conflicts with existing copyright law and policy in the US, as well as creating an additional hurdle for any users of broadcast content.
Every year, the US Trade Representative (USTR) prepares a Special 301 Report that cites specific countries for insufficient enforcement of intellectual property and inadequate IP laws.
Typically, the Report places blind reliance on rights holder assertions about the presence, nature, and extent of copyright, patent, and trademark infringements; it ignores the need for balanced copyright; it cites countries based on vague criteria; and it pressures countries to sign international agreements that don’t currently bind them and that these countries possibly consider detrimental to their national interest.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA or TPP) is an international trade agreement being negotiated among contries of the Pacific Rim such as Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, U.S, and Vietnam. The agreement will encompass more aspects of trade like agriculture and textiles, so it is possible that the intellectual property chapter will get lost among high-priority concerns and will receive heavy industry pressure.
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