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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New Provision for International Copyright Legislation

The US Trade Representative (USTR) has suggested another copyright provision that will address intellectual property concerns within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

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The latter is an important trade agreement, currently negotiated between 9 countries. The USTR has sent an e-mail addressed to the media, where it addressed exceptions which weren’t included in a leaked draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to copyright restrictions.

The representative of the US Trade Representative claimed that for the first time in any American trade agreement, they propose a new provision, consistent with the internationally recognized 3-step test. The latter obligates Parties to seek to achieve an appropriate balance in their copyright systems by enforcing copyright exceptions and limitations for things like criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

The USTR believes that these principles are critical aspects of the country’s copyright system, and therefore appear in both the law and jurisprudence. The balance they are looking for should recognize and promote respect for the important interests of people, businesses, and institutions relying on appropriate exceptions and limitations in the region.

Meanwhile, the so-called “3-step test”, dated back in 1967, allows for exceptions to copyright restrictions that don’t come into conflict with a normal exploitation of the work or unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the content creator.

In response, the attorney of Public Knowledge agreed that recognizing the limitations and exceptions is quite a very positive development, but their concerns would still depend on the proposal’s wording.

In the meantime, the Trans-Pacific Partnership still raises many questions, let alone the secrecy surrounding it. In fact, many outfits, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, call it “ACTA+”. The EFF’s activists claim that they oppose this new proposal, which was made without allowing for input from public interest outfits and other interested parties. The US Trade Representative may try to show the 3-step-test in a positive light, but it still imposes rigid constraints on the sorts of “fair use” provisions the states may enact.

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