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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How America Lost Copyright Fight

The article with such a title was written by Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge, which supports the openness of the web and the access of public to knowledge.

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There were a lot of important events this month, including the denial of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement in the Parliament of the European Union, and the start of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in San Diego.

In addition, one more shocking development is the proposal of US Trade Representative to include another provision in the Intellectual Property chapter. The suggested provision emphasizes the importance of limitations and exceptions to copyright while accepting the international 3-part test. Nevertheless, implementation of such principles in the Trans-Pacific Partnership might appear a major setback to the existing American legislation, let alone the skepticism of the press about their true intentions. Apparently, such a dramatic change of view isn’t easily digested.

However, we could relate the development in question with the failure of ACTA treaty in the EU Parliament. Indeed, this was a heavy blow received not just by the entertainment industries, but also by other businesses that counted on the legislation. However, the experts believe that it’s their own fault – they should have thought harder when implementing absurd provisions within the agreement. We can say that they pretty much signed the treaty’s death sentence.

Keeping that in mind, we could suggest that the USTR’s move may be wise as they have learned from the mistakes made in ACTA treaty, let alone the questions already raised by many Congressmen regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Besides, the provision can be easily synced with the international 3-part test, which was quite a vague international law. This, Harold believes, is a step forward for copyright maximalism. The author has many rules of advocacy, one of them being to always make it easy for the others to agree with you. But this can doubly be true if the other side is believed to make the concession grudgingly. That’s why his first response was to thank US Trade Representative and acknowledge its significant shift in position, while the second one was to help USTR move down the path of wisdom by refining the text.

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