News and Commentary
Jonathan Band gave an interview with The Conversation about U.S. influence in trade talks with South Africa related to copyright policy. The main sticking point is over American-style fair use provisions in the South Africa bill, and parallels can be drawn over drug importation policies during the AIDS crisis.
The Economist argues that there’s a downside to anti-trolling efforts, namely those engaged by the PTAB: it may encourage patent infringement. While this may be true on the margins, the article misses the point. PTAB is designed to go after bad patents, and if someone infringes with the end goal of finding that a patent is invalid, we’re all better off.
Curiously, SpaceX’s Flickr account recently changed from a CC0 (no copyright protection, but not to be confused with putting something in the public domain) to a CCL Attribution-NonCommerical license. As long as you attribute and don’t monetize the change won’t directly affect you, but it does raise concerns about the privatization of space exploration and the access to photographs that were once exclusively government-provided.
Pinterest, the “visual discovery platform,” has been sued by photographer Harold Davis for both direct and contributory (i.e. knowingly inducing or materially contributing) infringement.
Say it ain’t so: TechDirt’s collection of “copying isn’t theft” swag has been taken down from Teespring for, strangely enough, copyright infringement.
A basic reality of music creation is that artists will often take ideas from other artists and use them in new ways. Call it channeling, copying, repurposing, or whatever you like, but to deny that it happens and to design a copyright system where such a practice is punishable is absurd. But the ongoing “Blurred Lines” litigation is only becoming more ridiculous, with the Marvin Gaye estate claiming Pharrell perjured himself by saying he wasn’t trying to “channel” Gaye, despite a recent interview in which he says he tries to “reverse engineer” other songs to use in new works.
A recent piece of status quo apologetics in The Hill by Brian Pomper of The Innovation Alliance argues that the real patent quality crisis is not a crisis of low-quality patents, but rather that the scope of what can be patented under U.S. law, especially based on current 101 jurisprudence, is too narrow. Pomper does not present any evidence that the current climate has led to a decline in R&D or innovation, only a decline in patenting.
A new paper from the South Center outlines negotiations undertaken by the Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation, and Intellectual Property over global access to medications and the role of the patent system. Previous negotiations had broken down due to disagreements over the role of the patent system (with developed nations opposing efforts to liberalize the patent regime) in the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreements. A resolution was reached in Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation, and Intellectual Property, but the benefits have done little if anything to improve access to medicine and rethink the current patent system.