Monthly Archives: April 2009

The Pirate Bay decision

On 17 April the Stockholm District Court found the three operators of the Swedish file-sharing portal “The Pirate Bay” guilty of complicity for breach of the Swedish Copyright Act.  The translated judgment can be found here

Without commenting either on the choice of the name of the server (Pirate…!) nor on the unbiased nature of the court, (Judge Tomas Norstrom is a member of the Swedish Copyright Association and sits on the board of Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property), the case opens a debate on several issues.

The discrepancy between national criminal laws and copyright laws needs to be addressed.  For example;  an act which might be found to be a criminal act in one country, may not amount to the same criminal act in other country.  Likewise the concept of “secondary liability and indirect secondary liability” should be regulated in a consistent way.

We live in an era of fast-moving technology – the law ought to realising this and seriously start re-thinking copyright law to make it truely international and trans-border.  We do not need stronger provisions of the old rules, rather new and more modern rules!

Copyright law should still guarantee protection to authors and the music/film industry to foster creativity, but it should also promote benefit sharing and access to knowledge.   Abolishing copyright law like Smiers suggests is not the answer; what we need is to use the current system, without reinventing any wheels, but by adapting it the modern times.  No need to be draconian, simply pragmatic!

Post written by Francesca Re Manning, consultant to CAS-IP

“Fair” copyright and publicly funded research The National Institutes of Health launched a web based open access program to make government funded medical research available to the public free of charge. Now medical publishers are challenging this policy.  This radio news items expands on these thorny copyright and public goods issues.

“Publicly funded research doesn’t seem so public when the public has to pay to read the results in a journal. A proposed law would help publishing companies preserve their business models, but it would limit public access to the research.”

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

Minutes of the Genetic Resources Policy Committee (GRPC)
In March 2009, the 25th Session of the GRPC was held at the WorldFish Center in Penang, Malaysia.  For information on the GRPC visit

Minutes from the March meeting meeting can be read and downloaded from the lead link:

The GRPC posts all of its meeting reports here:

Copyright enforcement & new challenges for new markets…
I read this article last week and I had to smile at the irony of it all. 
A recent study has found that

“those who download music illegally are also 10 times more likely to pay for songs than those who don’t.”

The article began:

“Piracy may be the bane of the music industry but according to a new study, it may also be its engine”

So, that leaves the music industry with a bit of a dilemma….

Follow-up post; IP issues for development 2.0

Following on from yesterday’s blog post regarding development 2.0  there is plenty of evidence that some players in the non-profit world are already embracing these technologies and riding the Web 2.0 wave.   Another link from the PSD blog post was to an article outlining some examples of “development 2.0” projects.  It came from a site that provides information and resources for data sharing (amongst other things).  Also has a host of information on this topic.

There are of course intellectual property implications!  Many of these web based opportunities rely on data sets and of course collaborations between data sets are required for effective data sharing.  The article says:

“getting datasets out of their respective databases is certainly a challenge due to intellectual property issues and data interoperability”

So the message to IP practitioners is, by all means share — but beware!

Incorporating the power of the unintended into development work…

I have blogged a couple of times about “development 2.0“, as discussed on the Private Sector Development Blog of the World Bank.  On a recent post (today’s lead link) they say:

“One of the reasons why Development 2.0 is so hard for many traditional development players to embrace is that it challenges the linear thinking of logical frameworks and the (sadly) still deeply engrained assumption that a project needs to be a success almost by default if it is to get funding from donors.”

By way of example they link to a TED talk  about the unintentional uses of “twitter”

The speaker talks through some of the user-generated uses for twitter, which started life as a “side project” and will no doubt be entering the English language as a new verb shortly, if it hasn’t done so already!

(If you watch the Ted Talk be prepared to feel sorry for the speaker at the end who becomes a victim of twitter’s real-time comments in a live setting…!)

Intellectual Property, Open Access, and the Developing World

I recently had some contact with the “open & shut” blogger Richard Ponyder who asked if we could write a summary piece about some of the IP challenges in the developing world.

It was a useful exercise to put into writing some of the thoughts about where we see IP interacting with the work of the CGIAR centres.

Read the article on the Open & Shut blog

CAS-IP article

CAS-IP article

Cacao, enhanced value chains, benefits for farmers & intellectual property

This CNN World Report looks at the cacao market in West Africa and Trinidad.  An informative piece with a positive look into the future for these small holder farmers. 

Photo by Victoria Henson-Apollonio

Photo by Victoria Henson-Apollonio

These examples further the discussion of the growing trend of consumers wishing to know more about from where and how the food they purchase has made its way to the supermarket shelves.  See also the recent article about the “find the farmer” scheme that is running in parts of the US.   This could have huge IP implications in terms of branding and certification.

CAS-IP has been involved in a project run by Bioversity International and funded by the World Bank that uses modern genomics methods to enhance the cocoa value chain by identifying  “rare and potentially valuable high-quality [cacao] beans.. cacao growers could charge more for special beans, and chocolate lovers could enjoy better experiences.”

See the Bioversity International  press release for more info.

“The core of the project is to develop standardized, reliable methods to identify the valuable beans… Jan Engels, the project leader, is a senior scientist at Bioversity International with long experience of cacao diversity. “I am very pleased with the Bank’s decision,” he said. “This will encourage farmers to conserve cacao diversity for the best possible reason: because it earns them more money.”

A win, win then?

The global problem of counterfeiting & piracy and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
This link is to an interesting piece on IP Watch written by Dr Michael Geist discussing the organisation, role and possible intentions of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).  The writer suggests that lack of developing country participation in talks for this agreement could mean:

“non-member countries will face great pressure to adhere to the treaty or to implement its provisions within their domestic laws, particularly as part of bilateral or multilateral trade negotiations”

He also observed:

”it seems odd to conclude an anti-counterfeiting treaty without the participation of the countries most often identified as the sources or targets of counterfeiting activities”

In his summary he makes a case for more involvement from developing countries to have their say:

“the developing world faces a stark choice – remain on the ACTA sidelines and face a future filled with pressure to implement its provisions or demand a seat at the table now [to] … ensure that the counterfeiting and piracy concerns of the global community are appropriately addressed.”

Clearly a controversial topic with talk of “secret” meetings and leaked information – there is a hint of conspiracy even!  For this view see docs in connection to the agreements Wikipedia page and the Inquisitr site: or
For a more sober view from the technology press see:

What skills are useful to an IP manager?

In 2007 we held a meeting of the IP managers of the CGIAR and their national partner counterparts. It was the first NPI meeting.  During this meeting we asked participants to imagine the skills of the perfect IP manager. This is a selection of what they came up with….

photo by IBERPRESS for CAS-IP

photo by IBERPRESS for CAS-IP

I have thought about this exercise many times since — and the posts I made this week made me again reflect on the broad scope of the role of IP management!