In Reed Elsevier v Muchnick some publishers started digitizing newspaper and magazine articles without the permission of the authors (mmm…this reminds of another case…); as a result they got sued by a group of journalists who brought the claim as a class action. Most of the claimants had registered copyrights but some of them had not. One of the questions was whether those journalists who had not registered their copyright enjoyed intellectual property protection and thus had the right to sue for infringement of such intellectual property.
The Court specifically said that it was not addressing the question of whether district courts may or should dismiss copyright claims involving unregistered works… too bad! It seems to me that the Supreme Court of the United States has missed an opportunity to support the requirement to register copyright. If the U.S. had pushed on this issue, maybe the European Commission would have been influenced to modify its approach to registration of copyright.
The Berne Convention does not make registration as necessary for a work to enjoy protection (art. 5(2)); this is probably why, until now, the European Commission has taken this limitation as an excuse for its inactivity on the matter. On the contrary, I believe that registration should be supported; rights-holders would be easily identifiable, thus making it easier to provide legal access to material – the more legal access there is, the fewer reasons there are for people to opt for illegal ways. If there were a register of the copyright on an international level, it would be much easier to trace works and enforce authors’ rights as well. Will we now have to wait for another case to change things?
Post written by Francesca Re Manning, consultant to CAS-IP
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Last month WIPO released 2009 figures on levels of international patent filings under WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Visit the WIPO site HERE for some analysis and key data, as well as the video/audio press conference address by Mr. Francis Gurry, DG of WIPO.
With regards to developing country activity the item quoted Mr. Gurry as saying:
“”In implementing the WIPO Development Agenda, WIPO is working very closely with member states to develop and roll-out projects that will enable all countries to reap the benefits of innovation and the knowledge economy” said Mr. Gurry. “In this context, maximizing participation in the PCT is a key priority. Membership of the PCT offers an opportunity for countries to bring their national patenting processes in line with international standards helping to create a more attractive investment environment. It further offers local companies a cost-effective means of obtaining patent protection in multiple countries” he added. “
Good news for open access supporters! Four European research donors will mandate that research outputs from their funding be freely available through the UK PubMed Central (UKPMC). (The Health Research Board Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, Telethon Italy and the Austrian Science Fund). Stipulation from the donor is an extremely effective route to open access, removing institutional barriers and boosting motivation to get this done! And, as the article points out there are benefits to the funder; “…providing the functionality – through text and data mining technologies – to integrate research articles with a range of other online sources”
See the Wellcome Trust press release with the news for more details.
Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, one of the principal funders of UKPMC said:
“Free access to peer-reviewed research is essential for facilitating progress in biomedicine. I am delighted that these European funders have thrown their support behind UKPMC, and hope that other European research funders will follow their example. This should enable us to build on the success of the repository and expand to a Europe-wide service.””
Some background to UKPMC:
“Launched in January 2007, UKPMC is a free-to-access digital archive of full-text, peer-reviewed biomedical and life sciences research. As of February 2010, it holds over 1.7 million full text articles. The ambition of the repository is to become the information resource of choice for the UK biomedical and health research communities and eventually to expand to become ‘Europe PubMed Central’.
(I first spotted this item on the “Ninth Level Ireland blog” so thanks to them for picking it up and passing it on!)
Last Sunday the first draft of the digital enforcement chapter of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that governments have been secretly working on for the past year was leaked. And nobody knows (or can blame) who did it!
The Act goes far beyond counterfeiting by including sanctions of copyright infringements and increased liability for Internet Service Providers (ISPs); these provisions are designed to force ISPs to filter and block websites considered to aid copyright infringement.
Without entering once again into the debate of intellectual property rights v freedom of expression and data protection (see my blog of Friday 24 February), it is interesting to note that the measures proposed by developed countries’ decision makers can be a threat to those countries which do not have measures to protect consumers. We at least have the Data Protection Act and the European Human Rights Act, even though they can be bent to justify other agendas! Will more leaks happen? Or will more transparent and open dialogues eventually start? I am sure that these legislative proposals will be seen by the Chinese government in support to its current policy to monitor and block “unacceptable” websites – when China uses intermediaries to carry out the censorship on its behalf…
An interesting and informative document written by the European Digital Rights answers some of these questions here.
Post written by Francesca Re Manning, consultant to CAS-IP