Countries Are Adapting Intellectual Property Laws to Prioritise Health During COVID-19

“Intellectual property (IP) rights can potentially impede mass production of existing health products, as well as innovation and research and development of new products. IP rights can be exercised by their owners to grant or withhold from licensing the technology required for manufacturing or further developing a product. If a license is denied, the technology will not be available for other firms to manufacture or supply.

Usually, a bundle of several IP rights can exist around a particular technology. It is very common patenting strategy in the pharmaceutical industry to take separate patents on the main compound of a drug and a large number of secondary patents on different formulations and combinations, dosage, as well as other possible therapeutic use of a drug. This can make it difficult for follow on innovators to invent around the thicket of IP rights….

Through a resolution of the World Health Assembly on COVID-19, member states of the WHO have recognised the possible need for countries to adopt measures to ensure that IP rights do not constrain global equitable access to health technologies for COVID-19 through the full use of the flexibilities of the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) as well as voluntary pooling of patented technologies, data and know-how….

A number of flexibilities available under the TRIPS Agreement can be applied by governments to ensure that IP rights do not constrain innovation and availability of health technologies required for responding to COVID-19….

It is time for developing countries to review the extent to which such measures can be adopted, or what changes, if any, need to be introduced into their legal regimes so as to be able to act effectively and timely to address the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic….”

The Rebirth of Copyright As an Opt-In System? – The Media Institute

“For most of the history of Anglo-American copyright law, copyright was an opt-in system: Authors had to jump through certain regulatory hoops if they wanted to prevent others from copying their works without consent.  These threshold formalities included registering their works with a government agency, affixing a notice to published copies, depositing exemplars with a centralized library, and more.  A failure to comply with the requirements usually meant a diminution in the authors’ copyright entitlement – and in some cases a wholesale forfeiture, under which the works would pass immediately into the public domain.

After some 200 years, however, U.S. copyright abandoned its formal requirements.  Beginning in 1976 and culminating in 1989, Congress responded to complaints from authors (who had sometimes lost protection due to what they viewed as a technicality) and to pressure to join the international copyright community (which forbade most formalities).  Copyright law accordingly underwent a conversion from opt-in to opt-out.

As a result, copyright protection now arises by operation of law, without any action by the author.  As long as a work contains a modicum of originality and is fixed in some tangible form, copyright automatically protects it, and authors must affirmatively disclaim the entitlement if they don’t want its protection.  And these threshold requirements of originality and fixation are incredibly minimal, such that every reader of this essay is probably the owner of hundreds, and quite possibly thousands, of copyrights – in everything from diary entries to doodles….

Of course, any opt-in proposal would face a number of political obstacles, including the fact that predicating copyright protection on any formality (at least for foreign works) is inconsistent with the international copyright conventions to which the United States is a party.  But the Internet does not stop at the border; if opt-in makes sense here, it will make sense abroad as well.  When the United States and its trade partners are done figuring out what to do with Google Books, then, they should consider a return to copyright’s roots.  Make copyright opt-in once more….”

Jonathan Band and Sean Flynn, SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS A TREATY ON COPYRIGHT EXCEPTIONS AND LIMITATIONS FOR EDUCATIONAL AND RESEARCH ACTIVITIES (TERA)

“The disparity in exceptions between countries creates barriers to cross-border sharing of educational and research materials. A compilation or reading or research materials that is lawfully produced in one country may not be lawfully consumed in another because of the different exceptions environments. This fact creates a particular barrier for the international dissemination of open educational resources. Open educational resources are created with the intention of allowing free use and adaptation by users, which makes them a perfect way to facilitate harmonization of educational standards while permitting tailoring to local language, culture and context. But open educational resources rely on copyright exceptions for the quotation or other use of copyrighted works within them and thus can face copyright problems when shared between jurisdictions….”

Communia endorses Treaty on Education and Research, and asks others to follow suit – International Communia Association

“Communia has endorsed the Civil Society Proposed Treaty on Copyright Exceptions and Limitations on Education and Research Activities (TERA), and asks others to follow suit, ahead of the 37th session of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR). SCCR/37 will take place from 26 – 30 November in Geneva, and civil society advocates will propose that the treaty’s provisions be considered as a model for future text-based work by the committee.

The proposed treaty is the result of an extensive consultation process with various stakeholders (including Communia), which culminated with its adoption at the 5th Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest on September 27, 2018. Institutions and individuals are both welcome to endorse the treaty….”

We’re endorsing a proposed copyright treaty that adds educational and research exceptions. Here’s why. – Wikimedia Foundation

“The Wikimedia Foundation, and 15 other civil society and research organizations, have endorsed the Proposed Treaty On Copyright Exceptions For Educational And Research Activities that introduces exceptions and limitations to copyright, supporting open knowledge and the free culture. The proposed treaty will be presented to the World Intellectual Property Organization Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights at its 37th session from November 26th-30th….”

NAFTA Negotiations: Authors Alliance Joins Public Interest Groups in Support of Transparency and Balanced Copyright Policy | Authors Alliance

“Today, Authors Alliance joins with other public interest advocates such as Creative Commons, SPARC, Internet Archive, OpenMedia, and Public Knowledge to sign on to a statement in support of transparency and balanced copyright policy in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The statement was sent to the trade ministries of Mexico, the U.S. and Canada, urging all three countries to make trade negotiation processes more transparent, inclusive, and accountable.

Closed-door trade agreements are not the right forum to create intellectual property policy, particularly when negotiations lack transparency. It is critically important that drafts of international agreements that address intellectual property issues be publicly available for comment so that authors and other stakeholders can weigh in on the proposed rules that will bind all member states. Moreover, such agreements are not flexible enough to account for rapid changes in technology.”

E.U. Presents New Arctic Policy

“Twenty-two of Europe’s leading Arctic research institutions will develop an integrated European polar research program under the E.U.-PolarNet initiative. The E.U. is to support the transnational access to research infrastructures in the Arctic (research stations, scientific vessels, satellite observations) and the open access to data resources….”