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The Intellectual Property Blog of IPI
June 12, 2014

Ireland Plain Packaging Regulation Misguided, Harmful

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments

June 5, 2014

June 5 is World Anti-Counterfeiting Day

Be judicious when you buy. That "steal of a deal" may cost you a lot more than you think. Read More >>

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments

May 28, 2014

What Has Been Learned from the New Copyright Alert System (CAS)?

For some time IPI has been at the forefront of arguing in favor of intellectual property protection, since we believe that property rights are the basis of any market-based system, and markets are the best way to allocate goods and services. And particularly in an innovation-based economy, ensuring that innovators and creators are able to reap the rewards of their successful products is the best way to continue to fund a virtuous cycle of innovation.

Most commonly IP is protected through the force of law, since it is a proper role of government to facilitate the protection of private property. But, practically as well as legally, everyone who wants their world to be a world rich in creativity and innovation has an interest in seeing that creators and innovators are rewarded, in order to encourage continued creativity and innovation as envisioned by the American Founders in the Constitution’s Copyright Clause.

Massive on-line piracy, of course, derails the virtuous circle by depriving creators of any hope of reward. But the development of new business models through which content can be legally obtained on-line means that today those who might have taken the easy piracy route can be educated and redirected toward an abundance of legal options.

This is what brought Internet providers to the table with content companies some time ago to devise a voluntary system to try to reduce online piracy. Whereas before ISPs had been sometimes accused of having interests opposed to those of the content companies, in the maturing Internet ecosystem it has become clear that all legitimate players in the Internet have an interest in making sure that the Internet is a place rich in creative content, and a place where those who contribute to this richness at least have the option of attempting to monetize their content through various business models. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

May 7, 2014

More Ad Dollars Flow to Pirated Video

Great piece in today's Wall Street Journal on ad-supported piracy.

Many people still think of piracy as a victimless crime; or rather, of a crime that affects a victim that they don't care about: Big Content, or whatever disparaging name they prefer to use. They like to convey the idea that piracy is simply people "sharing" content that they "care about."

But piracy is big business, and people are profiting from piracy. Valuable content is valuable, and people are going to make money off of valuable content. The only question is whether the profit-makers are those who invested in the creation of the content, or whether it's just parasites who are making the money.

Piracy websites are the criminals, but companies and networks that advertise on those piracy websites are the enablers. And it's appropriate to put pressure on companies and ad networks to ensure that their ads don't run on websites trafficking in illegal content.

In February, nonprofit Internet safety group Digital Citizens Alliance commissioned MediaLink to research how much money these sites are making. MediaLink examined 596 sites where viewers can find pirated movies and TV shows, and estimated those sites generate a total of $227 million in advertising revenue annually. Even "small" piracy sites could make more than $100,000 a year from ad space sold to major brands, the report said, because they don't pay for their content. The profit margins of the sites examined could range from 80% to 94%, based on the costs typically associated with maintaining such sites, which include hosting fees and human resources.

Take zzstream.li, for example, which helps users unearth and stream unlicensed video owned by companies including Home Box Office Inc., Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. In March, it featured advertising for brands including Kraft, Toyota, Target, Honda, Lego and Claritin. The site reached 1.34 millioni people in March, according to online measurement firm com Score. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

March 21, 2014

Speaking at Cato on IP in the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Tom at Cato on IP in the TPPI had the privilege of speaking a couple of weeks ago at a Cato Institute briefing on whether it is wise or appropriate to include intellectual property protection in trade agreements, specifically in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the major trade agreement that is currently in a pretty vital stage of negotiation. The name of the event was "Intellectual Property in the Trans-Pacific Partnership: National Interest or Corporate Handout?" It was kind of Bill Watson at Cato to invite me to participate, and you can see the video of the event on Cato's website here. You can also see my Powerpoint slide deck here.

My role at the event was to speak from the perspective that intellectual property protections should be part of such trade agreements. I was in the definite minority, as both the other two panelists and the moderator are all skeptical of IP protection in general, and certainly don't think we should be using trade agreements as leverage to ask our trading partners to raise their IP protection standards. But I was happy to play that role. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

March 6, 2014

Francis Gurry Wins Reelection at WIPO

A few hours ago Francis Gurry won re-election (technically, re-nomination) as Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. This is a good thing.

My sources tell me Gurry received 46 votes on the first ballot, 4 votes over an outright majority. At this, the Estonian (7 votes) and Panamanian (10 votes) nominees withdrew.

What would normally then have happened is a second ballot, but after seeing Gurry’s large initial vote, some of the African Group went to the nominee from Nigeria, who had received 20 votes, and told him they were going to switch to Gurry, undoubtedly because they wanted to go with the winner. At this, the Nigerian nominee withdrew, so Gurry was nominated by consensus. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

February 15, 2014

"You Didn't Build That" Comes to Copyright

When President Obama performed his infamous “You didn’t build that” soliloquy during the 2012 campaign, it obviously hit a nerve. Not because there was anything particularly outrageous with the point he was trying to make, but rather because the phrase was seen to be a revealing slip, and seemed to confirm what many had long suspected about Obama—that he had a dismissive attitude toward the traditional American value of the rugged individual who, though hard work and determination, built a successful business. Your success is not due primarily to your hard work and sacrifices, you see—it’s mostly due to everyone else. Really, we all out here sitting on our behinds are responsible for your success, and we don’t recall seeing any dividend checks lately from you. So it’s time to pay up.

Parents don’t raise children, you see—schools and institutions do. Entrepreneurs don’t build businesses—taxpayers and government bureaucrats do. It takes a village, remember?

It’s just a slight step from there to conclude that, since you don’t really get the credit for your success—since we all really had more to do with it than you did—it really ought be us, not you, who gets to say how your capital gets used. After all, you didn’t build that. Next thing you know, we’re wresting control of the means of production from the capitalists, because after all, they didn’t build that—the collective we did.

This is crap. The creator and builder has always been an American hero to all but that small, disgruntled minority that believe you must take from the creator to redistribute to others. In capitalism, as in any moral system, the builder and inventor and creator is a hero, and is deserving of his or her success. Because their success is simply the fruit of their labor, and everyone is entitled to the fruit of their labor as their possession. It doesn’t get much more basic than that.

But the mob still lurks out there, demanding that they are a better judge of how the fruit of your labor should be deployed than you are. I’ve long argued that the primary locus of this essentially nihilistic and even Marxist thinking is today being focused on intellectual property, and I’m sad to say that the latest iteration showed up in, of all places, the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. Specifically, in “Sorry, Writers, but I’m Siding With Google’s Robots,” a February 7th op/ed by James Panero, a thirty-something art snob who, ironically, doesn’t seem to have a very high view of art—or at least of art that is protected by copyright. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

February 10, 2014

US Files WTO Complaint Against India's Domestic Content Requirements for Solar Panels

Today, the U.S. filed an official complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against India for its domestic content requirements for solar panels.

Domestic content requirements are prohibited in most cases under WTO agreements.

Of course, the details of this dispute relevant to the solar panel industry are important. But this dispute takes place in a much wider trade dispute context in which India has been purposely ignoring and violating the rights of intellectual property rights holders as part of their domestic industrial policy. Particularly in the area of prescription drug patents.

As Sally Pipes writes in Forbes:

Over the last two years, the Indian government has attacked pharmaceutical patents with increasing aggression. In March 2012, it issued its first “compulsory license” for a kidney-cancer drug made by Bayer AG. A compulsory license allows firms to make generic copies of drugs supposedly still protected by patents in exchange for a licensing fee set by the government. The patent holder has no say in the matter.

Later that year, the Indian government revoked Pfizer’s patent on Sutent, which treats gastrointestinal tumors and advanced kidney cancer. No other country has taken such an action.

And in early 2013, India’s Supreme Court denied patent protection for Glivec, which is used to treat leukemia, despite the fact that it continues to be protected by patents in almost every other country.

To date, India has issued compulsory licenses or revoked patents for eight advanced pharmaceuticals. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

February 10, 2014

IP is Property Even Though Infringement Doesn't Deprive the Owner of Its Use

One of the arguments that IP skeptics use against intellectual property protection is to attack the idea that it is property at all. And, in their mind, a major argument against it being property is that infringement doesn't deprive the supposed owner of his or her supposed property.
In the IP skeptics' mind, if someone steals your car, they've deprived you of the use of your car, so that's wrong. If they steal your phone, or your house, or your toothbrush, that's obviously wrong because you've been deprived of the use of the item.
They contrast that with IP goods, in which if your song or book or software is copied, you are not deprived of the use of the item, so it's NOT theft because it's NOT property. 
This passes for logic to the IP skeptics. It's not logical, but they think it is. The reason it's not logical is that they are arguing from a wrong assumption: Their definition of property is wrong.
This is clear and non-controversial to anyone who knows the law or who has studied the law.

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

February 7, 2014

Good Video of a Copyright Discussion

Back on January 14th, the New York chapter of the Copyright Society hosted a debate between junior law school student Derek Khanna and MPAA Vice President of Legal Affairs Ben Sheffner.

The video has been posted on YouTube.

It's about an hour long, and it's worth a watch. It's a civil discussion, though I think the substantive arguments in favor of strong copyright protection trump Derek's rather facile arguments.

And I forgive Ben for botching our name <g>.

The discussion ranges from the politics of copyright to the economic importance of copyright. It's worth a watch. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

January 24, 2014

Weakening South Africa's IP regime would be devastating

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments

January 6, 2014

Kim Dotcom Bought His Bling At The Cost Of A Whole Lot of American Jobs

Last night, CBS’s 60 Minutes news magazine did a profile on Kim Dotcom, the infamous personality behind the now-shuttered Megaupload file sharing site.

I watched out of curiosity to see whether 60 Minutes would accurately portray Kim as the serial criminal that he is, or whether they’d allow him to get away with his “I’m just the happy elf of the Internet” persona that he tries to convey.

Within the time available, 60 Minutes actually did a pretty balanced job. Of course, the SWAT-like raid on his compound got considerable attention during the piece, and frankly even critics like me have to admit that was probably overkill—seems to me you don’t bring in an armed assault team unless you’ve been given some reason to think you’ll need it. Of course, Kim’s extensive criminal career (see below), might well have suggested to law enforcement personnel that more than a courtesy call was in order. But the details of the raid are a distraction from the facts of the case, given the rest of the details of the 60 Minutes story, and especially after considering some of the facts that 60 Minutes omitted. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

December 14, 2013

On Thursday's USPTO panel on copyright in the digital age

Last Thursday (December 12) the Department of Commerce hosted an all-day discussion\public meeting on “Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy.” And thanks to the miracle of on-line streaming video, I was able to “be there” for most of it.

This event was part of a process that began with the release of a “green paper” back on July 31st that was an attempt to survey existing copyright law in its relationship to technology changes, and see what updates might be necessary.

This is, of course, a healthy process. While we at IPI are strong proponents of intellectual property protection, no law is perfect. It’s important for defenders of IP to not simply be kneejerk defenders of the status quo, and in fact, if we are confident that we are correct in the obvious utility of IP protection, we should not be afraid of examination and even the need to update the law periodically. Read More >>

Comments

November 17, 2013

The truth about the leaked IP chapter of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

November 13, 2013

IPI Submits Comments to USPTO on Commerce Dept. Green Paper

Today, IPI submitted comments to the USPTO regarding the U.S. Department of Commerce Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy.

Responding to whether and how the government can facilitate the further development of a robust online licensing system, IPI president Tom Giovanetti states in the comments:

Our conclusion is that there is nothing additional that the federal government needs to do to facilitate a robust online licensing environment other than to fully engage in its existing obligation to protect copyright and to ensure an environment where rule-of-law prevails and where rights holders can be assured of justice and enforcement of their rights. 

Specifically and most often this means 1) not allowing the proliferation of sources that offer illegal access to protected works, and 2) not succumbing to activist pressure to weaken copyright protection. 

Read More >>

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments

 

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