There’s been significant confusion surrounding a bill proposed by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) closing the so-called “felony streaming loophole.” It’s certainly a problem that these misconceptions exist, but this was entirely preventable if the process had been more open and debate encouraged.
News and Commentary
In the New York Times, a significant debate over whether or not the COVID-19 vaccines should have their patent protections suspended or not. Dean Baker, Achal Prabhala, and Arjun Jayadev argue that it’s necessary to suspend the patent rights to ensure that developing countries are able to access the vaccine. This would be legally difficult–if not impossible–with full patent protections.
In response, Thomas Cueni highlights the risks of suspending the vaccine, differentiating the current crisis from previous ones where pharmaceutical patents have led to the usual abuses such as high prices.
Charles Duan and Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) have also weighed in to support suspending the patent rights, citing concerns about the potential for patent holders to charge monopoly prices and restrict supply.
You can also read Dennis Crouch of PatentlyO’s take on the unfolding debate, pointing out that the timeline for patenting is significantly longer than the timeline for a pandemic, and that the real issue isn’t necessarily patent rights but also the additional know-how necessary to make the vaccine.
A new article from Brookings by Zia Qureshi discusses the need to democratize innovation through patent reform, citing The Captured Economy when describing the use of patents as monopolistic behavior.
A new paper from the South Centre sharply criticizes the idea of “vaccine nationalism,” the practice of nations hoarding both the supply of vaccines and the designs for them. This practice is short-sighted to the “vaccine nationalists,” in addition to being beyond cruel for countries left out in the cold.
A number of celebrities have recently run into copyright law for posting pictures of themselves taken by paparazzi. A new law review article from the Journal of Intellectual Property Law discusses the legal implications of posting a photo of yourself, and how paparazzi can still make money even if the use of such photos by celebrities is fair or otherwise non-infringing.