New Bill Calls For An End To PACER Fees, Complete Overhaul Of The Outdated System | Techdirt

“The perennial make-PACER-free legislation has arrived. If you’re not familiar with PACER, count yourself among the lucky ones. PACER performs an essential task: it provides electronic access to federal court dockets and documents. That’s all it does and it barely does it.

PACER charges taxpayers (who’ve already paid taxes to fund the federal court system) $0.10/page for EVERYTHING. Dockets? $0.10/page. (And that “page” is very loosely defined.) Every document is $0.10/page, as though the court system was running a copier and chewing up expensive toner. So is every search result page, even those that fail to find any responsive results. The user interface would barely have been considered “friendly” 30 years ago, never mind in the year of our lord two thousand twenty. Paying $0.10/page for everything while attempting to navigate an counterintuitive interface draped over something that looks like it’s being hosted by Angelfire is no one’s idea of a nostalgic good time.

Legislation attempting to make PACER access free was initiated in 2018. And again in 2019. We’re still paying for access, thanks to the inability of legislators to get these passed. Maybe this is the year it happens, what with a bunch of courtroom precedent being built up suggesting some illegal use of PACER fees by the US Courts system. We’ll see. Here’s what’s on tap for this year’s legislative session: …”

It’s time to eliminate patents in universities | by Bruce Caron | Aug, 2020 | Medium

“In researching the forty years of allowing publicly funded primary research results to be patented in the US, what becomes clear is that for every success story there are scores of negative outcomes. The bureaucracy that universities build to capture the “value” of research as patents (Welpe et al. 2015), the administrative burden on researchers to conform their work to the process of patent-making (Stodden 2014; Graeber 2019), the perverse career pressure to produce more patents (Edwards and Roy 2017), the downstream roadblocks for sharing the research (NAS 2018): the entire ecosystem (or egosystem) of doing patents argues against their benefits to the academy. The underlying tension between the university’s long-term mission as a wellspring of new public knowledge and the market’s desire to acquire and privatize new discoveries remains at issue here (Foray and Lissoni 2010)….

The actual returns on research are mostly “postmarket” in value. Open sharing accelerates returns in the near term and compounds research value over time. Universities achieve their value proposition through a broad range of research and educational activities. The availability of market returns from patents for a small segment of university research threatens to warp the research opportunity landscape, and the normative internal incentives (including curiosity) for research (Strandberg 2005)….

Open science looks ahead to a future where the capacity to share research findings is optimized through scholarly commons, collaboratives that steward research goods through the decades, and across the planet (See: Scholarly commons; Also, Madison et al. 2009). Patents subtract intellectual property and value from these commons: “[T]o the extent that universities surround the work of their scientists with thickets of patents, the upshot can be what Heller and Eisenberg [1998] call a scientific ‘anticommons’ in which ideas and concepts that in the public domain might spur discovery and innovation are zealously guarded by the institutional owners who value income more than innovation” (Ginsberg 2011). Researchers may also shy away from research arenas where existing patents impede new research (Foray and Lissoni 2010)….

In the US, the repeal of Bayh-Dole — the act that permitted universities to patent federally-funded research — would open up old (and now, new), long-term research sharing capacities …”

On a knife edge? South Africa’s new copyright law | EIFL

“The Copyright Amendment Bill [B13B – 2017] had been sitting on the desk of President Cyril Ramaphosa for over a year waiting to be signed into law. In June 2020, when Blind South Africa issued a legal challenge over the delay, the President acted. But instead of signing the Bill that had been approved by the legislature, the President used his prerogative to return it to parliament citing constitutional concerns with certain aspects, including new exceptions for libraries, education and persons with disabilities.

The President’s rejection of the Bill is widely seen as the result of pressure by copyright industries, and the threat of trade sanctions and reduced future investment from the United States and the European Union. …

In advance of the briefing, EIFL wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly and to the Portfolio Committee to pledge support for the Bill. EIFL’s letter sets out how libraries and educational institutions in South Africa, and the millions of South Africans citizens they serve, will benefit greatly from new exceptions designed for non-commercial uses. They will help to re-calibrate the existing copyright system in South Africa which forces resource-deprived institutions to pay high licence fees to largely European and US companies. (For example, the 2011 Copyright Review Commission Report, known as the Farlam Review, confirmed that 70% of copying fees paid by higher education institutions in the previous year were distributed to foreign rightsholders). While this is a windfall for these companies, it is in our view, bad public policy for South Africa.

EIFL’s letter also notes that the exceptions in the Bill are modelled on provisions in the copyright laws of developed countries including Australia, Canada, Israel, Singapore, the UK and the US, that the Bill seeks merely to ensure that libraries and educational institutions in South Africa have the same rights than their counterparts in these countries, and any concerns that they may be inconsistent with South Africa’s obligations under international copyright treaties are misplaced….”

Libraries Are Updating for Today’s Digital Needs. Congress Needs to Clear the Way. | Public Knowledge : Public Knowledge

“Many libraries have found a solution, at least when it comes to making physical books available digitally. This system is called Controlled Digital Lending (CDL). Libraries have a strong argument that fair use makes it possible to make an electronic copy of a book, and allow someone to “borrow” it, to the extent that such copying simply replicates what would have been possible with physical books under first sale. Under CDL, a digital copy of a physical book can only be read and used by one person at a time. While it is being “lent” electronically, a library engaged in CDL would take the physical book out of circulation, and only one person can “borrow” an electronic book at once. Since any of the copies made under this system necessarily cannot have an effect any different than normal lending could, libraries are on pretty solid ground that these acts of copying are fair uses.

But CDL only gets you so far. While it works with physical books, electronic materials often come with licensing and contract terms, as well as copy-prevention technology, that set highly specific conditions on how the library can lend it out. Certainly, some libraries buy special library editions of books and have various library-specific arrangements with publishers — but they don’t have to. With physical books, libraries are free to buy a book at any bookstore, or take books via donation, and lend them out freely as part of their collection. With electronic materials, libraries generally have to buy licenses for special, restricted library editions, that carry significant usage restrictions and might even expire over time or cause the files to “self-destruct” after a set number of loans.

It’s time for Congress to step in and clarify that libraries should be as free to buy and lend books today as they have been for centuries. We need legislation that ensures that libraries are free to buy ebooks and other electronic materials and lend them out, just as they can with physical media. A library should have the right to simply purchase an ebook at its mass market retail price, and then check it out to patrons one at a time. Licenses for library ebooks shouldn’t expire, and they shouldn’t carry restrictions that prevent libraries from carrying out their educational and archival missions. This legislation should also clarify that existing CDL programs for physical media are lawful, to avoid costly litigation over the fair use arguments….”

Big Pharma Attacks Coronavirus Price Controls

“On April 15, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., along with Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, laid out basic principles for the development and pricing of coronavirus therapies and vaccines. Their demands were simple: Pharmaceutical companies should have to set reasonable prices for their drugs and vaccines used to treat or prevent Covid-19. They should be required to make the costs of research and manufacturing of these products public. During the pandemic, the legislators said, companies should not be able to profit exclusively from these potentially lifesaving drugs.

“Exclusivity determines who has access, who can manufacture, and how we scale up production to meet the need,” the members of Congress noted in a press release at the time….

Few have spoken out against the protections that were designed to ensure equitable access to lifesaving medicines — at least publicly. But privately, a coalition of conservative groups attacked the proposed patient protections as “dangerous, disruptive, and unacceptable.” In a May 7 letter, representatives of 31 groups, including Hudson Institute, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, and Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, called on Congress to reject the drug pricing guidelines and defended patents and the exclusive right to profit from drugs as “America’s great assets.” …

Perhaps most galling to the Democratic lawmakers is the fact that the vast majority (if not all) of the drugs they seek to protect from exorbitant pricing have been developed at least in part with taxpayer dollars. Between 2010 and 2016, every drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration benefited from science funded with federal research through the National Institutes of Health, according to the advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs. During that time, taxpayers spent more than $100 billion on that research.

Although American taxpayers are the “angel investors” of pharmaceuticals, as Doggett put it, many cannot afford the treatments they’ve bankrolled….

On Friday, the World Health Organization unveiled a global effort to pool intellectual property, data, and research related to Covid-19. While 36 countries have already announced their support for the project, the U.S. was not among them. Just as WHO was detailing its plan to broadly share the benefits of scientific advancement, President Donald Trump was announcing his plan to withdraw from the global organization.”

If I could radically reshape copyright law for research | Martin Paul Eve | Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing

“So what, as a thought experiment, might it look like to rethink copyright? What would I suggest if we could get new primary legislation in the UK to change research and copyright arrangements?

I would make it so that research produced by employees at publicly funded research universities could not be placed under copyright. (i.e. were committed to the public domain.) A downstream provision could be included that would mean that no new copyright could be placed on such work by dint of design, typography etc.

I would abolish the implementation of EU Directive 2001/29/EC, at least for academic researchers. This directive makes it a criminal offence to break Digital Rights Management/Technical Protection Measures on digital files. Without the modification or abolition of this criminal directive, even public-domain work can be unusable for text mining.

I would allow academic researchers to re-use and to re-publish material, even that in copyright, that is necessary for their work. In other words, I would absolve academic researchers and institutions of copyright offences that are necessary to conducting their work. This would include distributing in-copyright articles and books to colleagues; publishing in-copyright images and videos that are necessary for work. I would include a clause that such re-use must include attribution credit.

I would extend the current copyright exemptions for text and data mining to a blanket non-commercial research exemption. I would add an allowance to circumvent any API rate limiting or other technological protection measure for the purposes of mining material for research purposes….”

Comment of the European Copyright Society on the Implementation of Art.14 of the Directive (EU) 2019/790 on Copyright in the Digital Single Market

“Article 14 obliges Member States to “provide that, when the term of protection of a work of visual art has expired, any material resulting from an act of reproduction of that work is not subject to copyright or related rights, unless the material resulting from that act of reproduction is original in the sense that it is the author’s own intellectual creation.” The wording of Article 14 appears, of course, somewhat clumsy in stating that the resulting reproduction “is not subject to copyright …, unless [it] is original in the sense that it is the author’s own intellectual creation” because, on the one hand, in strict copyright terms, a mere reproduction is not an author’s own intellectual creation, and, on the other hand, once an author’s own intellectual creation can be found, copyright protection shall attach according to the very wording of the Article in question. What is, of course, meant is (1) that once the copyright of a work of visual arts has expired, it may not only be reproduced, communicated or used without the author’s consent since it is in the public domain, but that in addition, (2) no exclusive rights shall attach to any copy of a public domain work of art, unless the reproduction constitutes its author’s own intellectual creation. This is a remarkable provision which, for the first time in the EU, grants a positive status to works belonging to the public domain, by prohibiting any regaining of exclusivity therein….”

VAT scrapped on E-publications – GOV.UK

“Plans to scrap VAT on e-books and e-newspapers have been significantly fast-tracked in a boost to readers and publishers during the coronavirus outbreak, the Chancellor announced today.

Rishi Sunak said the zero rate of VAT will now apply to all e-publications from tomorrow (1 May 2020) – seven months ahead of schedule – potentially slashing the cost of a £12 e-book by £2 and e-newspapers subscriptions by up to £25 a year.

In support of the print newspaper industry, the government has also announced it will be spending up to £35 million on newspaper advertising over the next 3 months as part of its Covid-19 communications campaign to ensure the whole UK is aware of the latest government guidance and advice….”