Category: Australia

Final TPP Agreement Reached; Full IP Text Yet to Be Released

After eight years of negotiations, it was reported on Monday, October 5, 2015, that a final agreement to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP; Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam) was reached. While a final text of the TPP agreement has yet to be released, and is reported to not be available for at least another month, some TPP member state governments have provided some details concerning the TPP’s IP provisions.

Ars Technica reported that New Zealand government officials announced that the TPP agreement will require New Zealand to extend its copyright protection term from life of the author + 50 years to life of the author + 70 years, thereby requiring New Zealand to adopt copyright protections beyond minimum requirements provided in existing international copyright treaties such as the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Despite the potential expansion of copyright protections under the TPP, such reporting also revealed that the TPP agreement will not require New Zealand to adopt stronger Internet Service Provider (ISP) enforcement provisions against repeat copyright infringers. According to the reporting, New Zealand will not be required to adopt a “six-strike” enforcement program, namely requirements mandating that a New Zealand ISP terminate an infringer’s Internet account after six cases of reported copyright infringement, as established amongst many U.S. ISPs.

It remains unclear whether all TPP member states will be required to adopt these copyright protections, as well as what other mandated IP protections are included in the TPP. Further information about the TPP’s IP chapter and its implications on TPP member states will be reported here once available.

Improvement over the Rest or More of the Same? Australia’s Proposed Extraterritorial Online Copyright Injunctive Reforms

I am happy to announce that I have the honor of publishing an opinion article in the European Intellectual Property Review (EIPR) to be released this month. Titled “Improvement over the Rest or More of the Same? Australia’s Proposed Extraterritorial Online Copyright Injunctive Reforms,” the article examines Australia’s recently-implemented copyright injunctive reforms that will allow a rights holder to obtain an injunction against a foreign-based website, and evaluates the reforms in relation to its foreign counterparts in the United States and Europe.

The article will be available on Westlaw and in print form (can be ordered here) within the next couple of weeks. Enjoy!

Breaking Down Australia’s Injunctive Online Copyright Enforcement Reforms

As this year comes to a close, I posted my last posting on The IPKat as a guest contributor about updates to Australia’s proposed injunctive online copyright enforcement reforms. This posting discussed recent updates to a blog posting I made on this blog in August concerning these proposed reforms. Particularly, I highlighted recent implementation and freedom of speech concerns about the proposed reforms.

The IPKat posting is available here.

USTR Requesting Public Comments to Assist in Identifying Foreign IP Protection Barriers for U.S. Exports

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced yesterday that it is requesting public comments to assist the USTR in identifying significant barriers to U.S. exports of goods and services, including foreign IP protection deficiencies. The comments are being collected for inclusion in the USTR’s annual National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE Report) that identifies barriers to U.S. exports including the “lack of intellectual property protection (e.g., inadequate patent, copyright, and trademark regimes).”

Last year’s NTE Report identified several U.S. export markets as possessing IP protection trade barriers, or at least IP protection concerns, including Angola, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, European Union (member states), Ghana, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

Public comments for inclusion in this year’s NTE Report are due to the USTR by no later that October 29, 2014. Further instructions on the NTE public comment submission process are available here.

Australia Considers Enhanced Cross-Border Online Copyright Enforcement Protections

Australia’s Attorney-General’s Department (“AG”) recently opened a public consultation on potential reforms to Australian copyright laws (Copyright Act 1968; “Copyright Act”) that would provide copyright owners and any person or entity possessing rights in copyright protected work(s) (collectively, “Rights Holders”) enhanced cross-border copyright protections. Among multiple reforms detailed in the public consultation discussion paper entitled Online Copyright Infringement (“Paper”), the AG proposed that the Copyright Act be amended to provide a Rights Holder the ability to apply for a Court order to block a foreign-based website from accessing Australia.

Titled Proposal 2 in the Paper (“Proposal”), the proposed amendments would allow a Rights Holder to obtain an Australian Court order against an Internet service provider (“ISP”) hosting an infringing website outside of Australia to block the site from access to Australia if the website’s dominate purpose is to infringe copyright. If enacted, a qualifying Rights Holder could effectively obtain limited Australian judicial protection for their work(s) outside of Australia, or conversely allow a Rights Holder to stem the international reach of a particular infringing website. The Proposal would be particularly useful for enforcement in cases where a Rights Holder wishes to enforce copyright protections in their work(s) against a non-Australian website hosted in a country whose laws or legal system is unwilling or unable to enforce the Rights Holder’s rights.

However, there are a number of issues about the Proposal that Rights Holders need to be aware of:

Legal Assistance Likely Required. A Rights Holder would likely need Australian legal assistance to obtain an order under the Proposal. As mentioned, a Rights Holder wishing to block a non-Australian based website under the Proposal would have to obtain an Australian court order to block the website from Australia. To do so, a Rights Holder would likely have to hire an Australian attorney, and particularly an attorney with intellectual property experience, to obtain such an order. By effectively requiring such legal assistance, seeking enforcement under the Proposal will have financial costs and would likely be more expensive that simply submitting a website take down petition to the ISP hosting the website. However, a Rights Holder’s enforcement options may be limited to judicial action such as that offered under the Proposal if the country where an infringing website is hosted does not possess an effective notice and takedown system.

High Burden of Proof. Rights Holders wishing to utilize the Proposal’s enforcement methods may face a high evidentiary burden to qualify for its protection. As detailed in the Report, in order for an Australian Court to grant an order against an ISP under the Proposal, a Rights Holder needs to establish that the website’s “dominate purpose” is to infringe copyright. Requiring that a Rights Holder establish that a foreign-based website’s dominant purpose is to infringe copyright likely establishes a high evidentiary burden as it requires showing that the site’s main purpose is to infringe copyright instead of merely establishing that the site infringes copyright as provided under most national notice and takedown enforcement systems. Based on this higher evidentiary burden, obtaining an injunctive order under the Proposal will likely be more difficult for a Rights Holder to obtain than a notice takedown. More generally, the Proposal’s evidentiary burden will likely exempt a large number of non-Australian websites that infringe copyright, and would otherwise be subject to enforcement action, simply because their infringing acts do not constitute their “dominate” purpose.

Indemnification and Enforcement Costs. The Proposal would also require that a Rights Holder “meet any reasonable costs associated with an ISP giving effect to an order,” and indemnify an ISP against any damages claimed by a third party against the ISP arising out of the ISP’s enforcement of an order under the Proposal. The financial costs an ISP may have for giving effect to an order under the Proposal is undefined, thereby making it unclear on how much it would cost for a Rights Holder to compensate an ISP for enacting an order under the Proposal.

Further, requiring that a Rights Holder indemnify a foreign ISP, namely provide legal protection for the ISP against any legal action it may face for complying with a Court order under the Proposal, would likely pose substantial risks and possible costs to Rights Holders. If a foreign website owner’s business is harmed when their website is blocked from Australia by an order under the Proposal, the Rights Holder in question will likely have to cover the legal costs and obligations of the ISP in any proceeding brought by the website owner against the ISP as the Proposal does not provide any limits on a Rights Holder’s ISP indemnity obligations. This makes seeking enforcement under the Proposal a riskier option that submitting a takedown notice as most countries’ notice and takedown systems do not generally mandate that a Rights Holder indemnify an ISP for any enforcement action taken by the ISP on behalf of the Right Holder arising out of a takedown notice.

It is Still a Proposal. The Proposal is just that, a proposal. It remains unclear whether the Proposal will be implemented, and if so what additional requirements, costs or obligations a Rights Holder may have in seeking enforcement under its protections.

What’s The Takeaway? If implemented, the Proposal would provide Rights Holders enhanced cross-border copyright enforcement protections by allowing them to prevent the access of foreign-hosted infringing websites into Australia. However, the Proposal has costs and risks that Rights Holders need to seriously consider, especially if cheaper and less risky enforcement options such as takedown notices are available. Further, the ambiguity of the Proposal’s costs and obligations mean that further details about the Proposal is needed in order to determine what particular costs and obligations Rights Holders will have in seeking enforcement under the Proposal.

On a side note, those who are interested in providing comments on the Proposal or other proposals in the Paper may submit comments to the AG (instructions here) before September 1, 2014.

U.S. Congress Evaluates Copyright Reforms With Cross-Border and Trade-Related Implications

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representative’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet held a hearing on a number of proposed reforms to U.S. copyright laws that have a number of potential implications for internationally focused businesses. Reforms that were discussed at the Tuesday hearing included termination rights, resale royalties, moral rights and copyright terms. Among those who testified included representatives from the U.S. Copyright Office, the Songwriters Guild of America, Inc. (“SGA”), the Future of Music Coalition (“FMC”), the American Enterprise Institute (“AEI”),and the Creative Commons USA (“CC”).

Although a substantial amount of testimony given at the hearing was related to particular U.S. industries needs (e.g. music and visual arts), potential U.S. termination rights, resale royalties, moral rights, and copyright term reforms has implications on nearly all businesses both in the U.S. and abroad.

To better understand the potential implication of these reforms, it is best to evaluate them individually.

Termination Rights

One of the reforms discussed at the Tuesday hearing that arguably has the greatest likelihood of being implemented, as well as trade-related importance, is termination rights. Under 17 U.S.C. § 203 of the U.S. Copyright Act, a creator of a copyright-protected work (“author”) may cancel the transfer or license of rights to the work 35 years after its transfer or license to another party. However, the elimination of such rights has been recently proposed in U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations. In the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations, the U.S. has proposed IP Chapter terms that would arguably eliminate termination rights in TPP member states (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam). This means an author from a TPP member state would be unable to terminate the transfer of rights or license of their work in the U.S. or other TPP member state(s) as currently provided under U.S. law.

Representatives from the FMC and CC testified on this issue, both calling for upholding existing termination rights under U.S. law. The FMC went even further and explicitly called on Congress to ensure that such termination rights continue to be made available in international agreements the U.S. enters such as the TPP.

Whether the U.S. decides to uphold or eliminate termination rights will have global implications for international businesses. If the U.S. decides to uphold termination rights in the U.S. Copyright Act and FTAs, it would provide content-producing businesses greater rights and flexibility in protections in their works, both in the U.S. and abroad. In contrast, eliminating termination rights would provide businesses who purchase rights to protected works greater assurance that their ownership or rights to such works will be protected.

Regardless of the benefits or drawbacks of eliminating termination rights, it remains unclear from the Tuesday hearing how Congress will decide to proceed.

Resale Royalties

Tuesday’s hearing also included testimony on whether the U.S. should adopt resale royalty requirements. Some of the U.S.’ major trading partners, such as Australia, the EU, and Russia among others, require that authors (in most cases, visual artists) be entitled to royalties for the resale of their works. However, the U.S. has yet to adopt such measures despite their voluntary recognition in Article 14ter of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (“Berne Convention”), and several U.S. federal and state legislative attempts to do so. The main argument against such royalties is that oppose the first sale doctrine, which generally allows for the unrestricted domestic secondary sale of copyright protected works.

During Tuesday’s testimony, the sole testifying entity, the U.S. Copyright Office, stopped short of calling for the U.S. adoption of resale royalty laws. The Copyright Office recognized the disadvantages visual artists have compared to other authors in recouping the true value of their works, and that over 30 countries have now adopted resale royalty requirements. However, their testimony stated that mandated resale royalties were not the only means to remedy such disadvantages as voluntary initiatives and best practices could also be utilized, and that the true benefits of a resale royalty regime is difficult to quantify.

Based on such timid testimony, it appears unlikely that the U.S. will seriously consider adopting mandated resale royalties as currently provided in EU and other countries in the near future. The lack of a current and potentially future mandated U.S. resale royalty regime emphasizes that visual artists and other authors will need to find alternative means in order to obtain effective compensation for their works.

Moral Rights

The Tuesday hearing also evaluated to what degree the U.S. should adopt stronger moral rights protections. Moral rights, as detailed under Article 6bis of the Berne Convention, gives an author non-economic rights in a work even after the transfer or sale of their work including the right of attribution that allows them to object to the distortion, mutilation or modification of their work. Currently, the U.S. only extends such rights to visual artists under 17 U.S.C. § 106(A) and in an arguably less encompassing manner. In contrast, many major U.S. export markets such as Australia, Canada, China, and EU have more robust moral rights protections.

None of those who testified on moral rights argued for an explicit extension in the U.S. despite acknowledgements of its benefits. The SGA and FMC stressed that freedom of speech and fair use considerations should be balanced with any moral rights considerations, and the CC highlighted the difficulties and costs of establishing exclusive attribution rights. Based on these testimonies, it appears unlikely that the U.S. will adopt moral right reforms in the near future.

Copyright Term

Lastly, but arguably the most contentious issue of this hearing was copyright term reforms, namely the period of time in which a qualifying work is entitled to copyright protection. Under 17 U.S.C. § 302, a copyright protected work is entitled to protection for the life of the author and 70 years after their death for a natural person author, and 95 years for works created by legal entities. Such copyright terms are well beyond international norms as Article 7 of the Berne Convention establishes copyright protection for the life of the author and 50 years after their death for a natural person, and 50 years for legal entities. The U.S.’ extended copyright term is controversial as it is argued to harm the public through unnecessary taxation and limits on creative freedom, especially as the U.S. has proposed that other countries adopt similar terms in FTAs such as the TPP and the U.S.-Australia FTA, just to name a few. Despite these criticisms, such extended terms give U.S. and other FTA member state authors and copyright owners longer copyright protections in their works.

The testimony provided in the Tuesday hearing varied widely as to whether the U.S. should amend its copyright terms, both in the U.S. Copyright Act and FTAs. The CC called for a reduction in copyright terms, while the FMC and AEI took a less argumentative stance by disagreeing with any term extensions. Contrastingly, the SGA rejected any term reductions. The CC was only group to identify copyright term issues in FTAs by highlighting widespread criticism towards the U.S.’ attempt to propose U.S. copyright terms in the TPP and the CC’s efforts against the same. However, the lack of a comprehensive rejection of the U.S.’ current copyright terms or more robust efforts to prevent their inclusion in U.S. FTAs means that any reforms to the U.S. copyright terms are unlikely.

What’s The Takeaway? The Tuesday hearing highlighted that the U.S. is at least evaluating copyright reforms that may harmonize U.S. copyright laws with other countries. Although it appears unlikely that the U.S. will adopt moral rights, copyright term or resale royalty reforms, the potential invalidation of termination rights does seem to be a potential possibility in the near future, especially in light of the U.S.’ TTP IP Chapter Proposal. Businesses and authors with substantial copyright portfolios should be aware of these reform efforts and adjust their copyright protection policies as needed in order to best protect rights in their works, both in the U.S and abroad.

Disney and Canadian DJ Spar Over U.S. Mouse-Head Design Trademark

Check out my recent guest post on UK IP blog The IPKat on Disney’s trademark dispute with Canadian DJ and electronic musician Deadmau5 over a U.S. mouse-head design trademark application. It is available at: http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2014/04/disney-and-canadian-dj-spar-over-us.html.

Don’t Be Scared of Havarti! Geographical Indication Issues Exporting Businesses Should Consider

Late last month, the European Commission approved for publication (pre-registration) a geographical indication (GI) application for the Danish cheese HAVARTI. This raised concern amongst interested industry groups, and should cause concern amongst all export-focused businesses. Similar to trademarks, and particularly certification marks, GIs are legal protection granting producers of a particular type of product from a specific geographical region the exclusive right to use the geographical region’s name (or a regionally-known name) on their products and in related promotions. Being an exclusive right, GIs exclude producers from other regions from labeling and marketing similar or identical products under the same GI name. This means, for example, that a U.S. sparkling wine can never be sold as CHAMPAGNE in the EU, or a Kenyan tea as DARJEELING in India. If registered, the EU HAVARTI GI would exclude non-Danish cheese producers from labeling and promoting their Havarti cheeses in the EU as HAVARTI.

So what’s concerning about the potential EU HAVARTI GI registration for non-dairy businesses? Well, industry groups such as the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) argue that allowing the EU HAVARTI GI application to be registered would contravene international standards by prohibiting non-Danish cheese producers from labeling and promoting their own Havarti cheeses in the EU as HAVARTI, even if they meet recognized international Havarti cheese production standards. From an intellectual property perspective, the registration would arguably expand EU GI protections to common (generic) named products. Commonly named GIs such as DIJON for mustard and CHEDDAR for cheese have traditionally been restricted from GI protection due to their common vernacular usage. HAVARTI is a widely known cheese variety this is arguably as generic as these other excluded food names. By allowing HARVARTI’s potential GI registration, the European Commission could possibly allow other generic named products to be registered as GIs, thereby hindering the promotional efforts, and ultimately success of many foreign goods in the EU.

Although the potential HAVARTI EU GI registration only directly impacts the global dairy industry and the EU market, it does underscore general issues all export-focused businesses should be aware of concerning GIs. Many businesses are unfamiliar with GIs, much less the extent to which GIs can impact their expansion and success in new foreign markets. GIs are granted legal protections in multiple countries for a wide array of goods, and can significantly impact a business’ foreign operations.

Below are some GI issues businesses should consider when entering new foreign markets:

Know the Practical Differences Between GIs and Trademarks. Before understanding what GIs restrictions a business may face in a foreign market, a business needs to recognize how GIs and trademarks differ. Unlike trademarks, GIs do not indicate or represent a individual business or their goods and services. They instead represent protections for the local conditions—natural or human-made (depending on the country)—that give products from a region their qualities and reputation. Based on these localized and natural characteristics, GIs cannot be extended, shared, or transferred to producers outside the region, and cannot be cancelled once registered. Further, in many countries that grant GIs legal protection such as the EU, member state governments, not individual producers or businesses, prosecute GI infringement claims. This means a foreign business can be assured that their unauthorized use of a registered GI in a foreign market will more likely subject them to a greater risk of legal action in that country compared to the threat of a lawsuit from a individual trademark owner.

The bottom line is that GIs prohibit exporting businesses from promoting and selling their goods in a particular country under a registered GI without much recourse.

Determine if an Export Market Recognize GIs—and to What Degree. After understanding the important differences between GIs and trademarks, businesses need to then evaluate whether the markets they wish to export to have GI protections and the extent of such protections. Nearly all countries recognize GIs for wines and alcoholic beverages through their World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments. Under Articles 22 and 23 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), WTO member states are required to extend specific GI protections for wines and alcoholic beverages, and to a reduced degree other agricultural and natural products. Most common law jurisdictions (U.S., Australia, and Japan, etc.) generally only extend GI protections to wines and alcohol beverages based on their WTO commitments. Yet, many countries, including several substantial markets, have gone beyond TRIPS’ minimum standards by providing enhanced GI protections to non-wine and alcohol agricultural products, and even non-agricultural products. The EU, China, India, and Russia, among others, extend the same level of legal protection to all agricultural and natural product GIs. Brazil, China, India, Russia, and Switzerland even extend GI protections to human made goods such as handcrafts and textiles.

Determine if There are Existing GI Registrations for Your Goods. Once a business determines whether the market(s) they wish to export their goods possess GI protections, they must evaluate whether the names of the goods they wish to use on their goods and related promotions are registered GIs. To do so, businesses must examine national GI registers in such export market(s).

Below are GI registers for some of the world’s major GI jurisdictions.

Country

Governing Agency

National GI Register

Brazil

National Institute of Industrial Property (Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial -INPI)

INPI GI Registry

China

General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine

GI Product List

European Union

European Commission

Database of Origin and Registration (DOOR) Database

India

The Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks

GI Registry

Russia

Federal Institute of Industrial Property

Register of Appellation of Origin of Goods

What’s the Takeaway? As the nature of GI protections are evolving in many of the world’s major markets such as the EU, businesses need to be even more aware of GIs and how they impact their operations in foreign markets. Due to the significant implications GIs have on the labeling and marketing of exported goods, businesses should work with qualified counsel to ensure that they comply with existing GI registrations to ultimately take advantage of foreign markets opportunities.

The TPP and Its Implications on Online Copyright Enforcement: Part II – Wikileaks

In November, Wikileaks leaked positions papers from the 18th round of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations concerning the intellectual property (IP) chapter of the TPP agreement. The papers including positions held by TTP member states (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam) on all forms of IP protections they will provide to IP rights owners and rights holders from their countries, and in many cases, from abroad under a final TPP agreement. Several IP news outlets have provided good analyses of the position papers including The IPKat and InfoJustice, among others.

These position papers also provide updated positions TPP member states have on online copyright enforcement, and particular, the positions each country has on adopting notice and takedown online copyright enforcement systems. In order to provide an update on my October article on the TPP’s implications on online copyright enforcement, the following are positions TPP member states have adopted in the position papers on crucial issues concerning online copyright enforcement under the TPP.

Exclusive Rights

Article QQ.G.1 of the position papers propose that authors of works and producers of phonographic works will have exclusive rights concerning the reproduction of their works in any manner, including any temporary or permanent electronic reproductions and storage. Canada, New Zealand and Vietnam object to such proposed protections. Additionally, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Japan, New Zealand and Malaysia suggest in a footnote to the Article (“Article QQ.G.1 Footnote”) that exceptions and limitations to such exclusive rights should be established for:

Temporary acts of reproduction which are transient or incidental and an integral and essential part of a technological process and whose sole purpose is to enable (a) a lawful transmission in a network between third parties by an intermediary; or (b) a lawful use of a work; and which have no independent economic significance.

Alternatively, Vietnam proposes that “it shall be a matter for national legislation [of a TPP member state] to determine exceptions and limitations under which the right may be exercised.”

What’s Does This Mean? Providing authors of works and producers of phonographic works exclusive rights to all reproductions of their works, including electronic reproductions for any duration, gives such persons or entities greater direct ability to enforce rights in their works online because Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would ultimately have less discretion to reject notice complaints. As several commentators have mentioned[1], the text of Article QQ.G.1 effective eliminates fair use copyright exceptions provided under U.S. copyright law and the copyright laws of other TPP member states such as Japan.[2]  By doing so, TPP member state ISPs will have greater incentive to act on any copyright infringement on their networks, including alleged infringement notified through rights owner/holder notices, due to the likely elimination of the ISPs’ own fair use defense to contributory copyright infringement for hosting unauthorized reproductions of protected work. Although notice and takedown and notice and notice systems were adopted in TPP member states to provide ISPs safe harbor from such liability upon complying with submitted notices, many ISPs in practice do not act on such notices, by determining that their users’ unauthorized reproduction of copyright-protected works on their networks is fair use, and therefore permissible. Adoption of Article QQ.G.1 would effectively force ISPs to remove allegedly infringing content or face contributory liability for the copyright infringement of their users.

However, if TPP member states ultimately adopt the Article QQ.G.1 Footnote or Vietnam’s proposal, it is likely that they will be given the option to retain any fair use exceptions provided under their own national laws, potentially impacting the degree to which TPP member state ISPs will feel compelled to act on rights owners/holders notifications of alleged infringement.

ISP Liability

The TPP member states have divergent positions on the liability ISPs should be subject to for hosting content that infringes copyright-protected works. Article QQ.I.1 provides that the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Peru and Singapore propose (while Malaysia and Vietnam oppose) that each TPP member state provide “legal incentives for [ISPs] to cooperate with copyright owners in deterring the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyrighted materials.” Similarly, Canada proposes that each TPP member state “provide legal incentives for [ISPs] to comply, or remedies against [ISPs] who fail to comply, with any procedures established in each party’s law for: (a) effective notifications of claimed infringement; or (b) removing or disabling access to infringing material residing on its networks.”

What Does This Mean? The U.S. and Canada’s Article QQ.I.1 proposals likely leave mandating the adoption of notice and takedown systems in all TPP member states in doubt. The U.S. Article QQ.I.1 proposal provides the same ambiguous text as the February 2011 U.S. Draft IP Chapter, and the Canadian proposal goes so far as leaving the type of ISP legal incentive system each TPP member state should adopt up to its own discretion. As a result, both proposals would likely make the adoption of notice and takedown systems in TPP member states optional. For example, less forceful online enforcement systems, such as Canada’s notice and notice system provides legal incentives for ISPs to coordinate with copyright owners despite lacking the forceful effectiveness of notice and takedown systems currently available in other TPP member states such as U.S., Australia and Japan.

Despite the limitations of such proposals, mandating that TPP member states adopt some form of legal incentives for ISPs to enforce online copyright protections may likely compel TPP member states without any rights owner/holder notification systems, including Brunei Darussalam, Mexico and Vietnam, to adopt some form of rights owner/holder ISP notification system.

Notice and Takedown Procedures

The U.S., Australia, and Singapore propose in Annex to Article QQ.I.1.3(b)(ix) (while Canada, Malaysia and Mexico reject) adopting notice and takedown procedures as the “legal incentives” identified in Article QQ.I.1. These procedures closely resembles notice and takedown procedures provided under U.S., Australian, and Singaporean law. As a part of these procedures, copyright owners and/or rights holders whose works qualify for copyright protection in a TPP member state would have to submit a notice to an ISP that provides the following information in order to have the ISP examine and remove the infringing content in question:

    1. The identity, address, telephone number, and electronic mail address of the complaining party (or its authorized agent);
    2. Information reasonably sufficient to permit the ISP to identify and locate the material residing on a system or network controlled or operated by it or for it that is claimed to be infringing, or to be the subject of infringing activity, and that is to be removed or disabled;
    3. Information reasonably sufficient to enable the ISP to identify the copyrighted work(s) claimed to have been infringed;
    4. A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
    5. A statement that the information in the notice is accurate;
    6. A statement with sufficient indicia of reliability that the complaining party is the (U.S. propose “holder”) (Australia and Singapore propose “owner”) of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed, or is authorized to act on the owner’s behalf; and
    7. The signature of the person giving notice.

What Does This Mean? If a final TTP Agreement mandates that TPP member states adopt a notice and takedown system, implementing Annex to Article QQ.I.1.3(b)(ix) would effectively require TPP member states to adopt similar notice and takedown procedures provided under U.S., Australian, Japanese and Singaporean law. Yet, opposition from Canada, Malaysia and Mexico may make the adoption of such requirements more unlikely.

Additionally, as Australia and Singapore propose that the “owner” of the alleged infringed copyright work be the “complaining party” listed in a notice, it is unknown whether an adopted TPP notice and takedown system would allow licensees of copyright-protected works (the “holders”) to utilize notice and takedown procedures in TPP member states. Limiting such a system’s accessibility to copyright owners only may be overly burdensome for such owners, as it would force them to enforce protections in their works on behalf of their licensees.

What’s The Takeaway?

If the U.S.-backed proposals listed above are enacted in a final TPP Agreement, copyright owners and rights holders from TPP member states, and other countries, will qualify for greater online copyright enforcement protections in TPP member states. However, such proposals have multiple obstacles before being effectively implemented. Such proposals must be included in a final TPP agreement, fully implemented as legislation in each TPP member state, and effectively upheld in each TPP member state’s legal system. Time will tell whether such enhanced online copyright enforcement protections will be adopted in the final TPP Agreement and enacted in all TPP member states.


[1] See Sean Flynn, Margot Kaminski, Brook Baker, & Jimmy Koo, Public Interest Analysis of the US TPP Proposal for an IP Chapter, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, American University Washington College of Law, Dec. 6, 2011, 13, available at http://infojustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/TPP-Analysis-12062011.pdf (Analysis of the TPP’s fair use exception elimination was based on the U.S.’ leaked IP chapter proposal from Feb. 2011).
[2] Cartoon Network LP, LLLP v. CSC Holdings, Inc., 536 F.3d 121, 140 (2d Cir. 2008). See Saiful Bakri Abdul Aziz, An Assessment of Fair Dealing in Malaysian Copyright Law in Comparison with the Limitation Provisions of Japanese Copyright Law – Within the Current Technology Background, 41 Hosei Riron J. of L. & Pol. 298, 300, 305 (2009), available at http://dspace.lib.niigata-u.ac.jp:8080/dspace/bitstream/10191/12583/1/41(3.4)_298-327.pdf.

The Trans Pacific Partnership and Its Implications on Online Copyright Enforcement

In recent months, representatives from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP; Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam) member states have been pushing to finalize a final TPP agreement.[1] A particularly contentious issue in these negotiations has been the intellectual property (IP) chapter of the TPP Agreement. A predominant proposed version, the U.S. Draft IP Chapter, has been controversial as it requires TPP member states to adopt IP standards that are in many cases is on par with those under U.S. law, and in some cases, beyond U.S. law and generally-accepted global IP protection standards in the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).[2] As a result, several TPP member states have objected to U.S. Draft IP Chapter, thereby stalling progress towards a final TPP agreement.

Of particular importance in these debates is the online copyright enforcement protections procedures the TPP agreement will mandate for its member states. If enacted, the U.S. IP chapter would likely require TPP member states to adopt copyright enforcement measures that would allow copyright owners, rights holders, or agents thereof (collectively, “Authorized Party”) to directly petition Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to remove hosted infringing content. Article 16.3(a) of the U.S. Draft IP Chapter requires that TPP member states provide “legal incentives for [Internet] service providers to cooperate with copyright owners in deterring the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyrighted materials.” Although ambiguous, adopting such provisions would likely require TPP member states to maintain or enact a form of copyright protection protocols that would allow Authorized Parties to petition ISPs hosting or transmitting infringing content to remove such content.

The main question arising from these potential reforms is whether they would result in TPP member states adopting U.S.-like notice and takedown protocols, or less forceful ISP copyright enforcement measures. Notice and takedown systems generally provide ISPs a safe harbor from liability for hosting or transmitting infringing content if they remove infringing content they host or transmit upon receipt notice from an Authorized Party. In contrast, other TPP member states do not provide copyright owners such a level of protections. Some of these states do not require that a ISP take down allegedly infringing content upon receipt of notice from an Authorized Party to qualify for safe harbors. Others require that Authorized Parties seek judicial copyright enforcement to combat online infringement, which is a more delayed and costly process.

Although not stated in the U.S. Draft IP Chapter, the U.S. may, as it has in previous U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs), negotiate that TPP member states adopt notice and takedown protocols in TPP side letters.[3] In previous U.S. FTAs, the U.S. has executed additional annexed agreements, known as “side letters,” where other countries agreed to adopt U.S.-like notice and takedown protocols. This has had varying degrees of success. Australia, Peru and Singapore, among others, have adopted notice and takedown protocols similar to those under the U.S.’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A)) in FTA side letters with the U.S., while Chile rejected adopting such a system.

Similar mixed outcomes could result from the TPP as well. Brunei Darussalam, Mexico and Vietnam do not maintain any ISP copyright enforcement protocols short of judicial action. Further, a number of TPP member states including Canada, Chile and New Zealand maintain online copyright enforcement systems that arguably do not provide the same level of direct and expedient enforcement power or protections to Authorized Parties as notice and takedown systems. Lastly, some TPP member states such as Malaysia that do maintain notice and takedown protocols have called for establishing TPP agreement implementation exceptions for existing domestic legislation.[4] This would likely give TPP member states with weaker online copyright enforcement systems such as Canada, Chile and New Zealand the ability to maintain their less forceful online copyright enforcement systems, while still remaining parties to the TPP Agreement.[5]

Despite these limitations, the TPP’s potential adoption of notice and takedown protocols will ultimately impact the ability to which Authorized Parties can more quickly, cheaply and effectively enforce online copyright protections in the TPP member states. Adoption of notice and takedown protocols will enable Authorized Parties to more easily enforce online copyrights in TPP member states, while making such protocols optional would likely make such enforcement more difficult. Only time will tell whether the U.S. and other notice and takedown proponents will persuade other TPP member states to adopt notice and takedown protocols.

To understand how the TPP would impact individual TPP member state online copyright enforcement systems, the following are brief summaries of the TPP member states’ current online copyright enforcement systems. However, there are a few things to note:

  • Jurisdiction and National Treatment: In order for an Authorized Party to utilize a notice and takedown in a TPP member state, their content must generally qualify for national copyright protection in that TPP member state, and the particular ISP must be subject to the jurisdiction of that country. Further information about these preliminary issues can be found in my March 25, 2013 posting.
  • Enforcement System Legend: As mentioned, online copyright enforcement procedures vary amongst the TPP member states. Countries that maintain a notice and takedown protocols are identified below as a “Notice and Takedown,” while countries that maintain systems that simply require ISPs to notify infringers of their infringing acts without infringing content removal are listed as “Notice and Notice.” Countries that do not have means for Authorized Parties to directly enforce their copyright protections through ISP notices, and are instead forced to seek judicial action are referred to as “Judicial System.”

TPP Member State Online Copyright Enforcement Systems

United States
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes The U.S. notice and takedown protocols have been implemented in FTAs with Bahrain, Dominican Republic, Morocco, Oman, Peru, Singapore and South Korea.
Governing Legislation
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A))
Notice Requirements

  1. A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the content owner alleging infringement;
  2. Identification of the copyrighted work(s) claimed to have been infringed;
  3. Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing and wished to be removed or disabled, including any reasonable information that would allow an ISP to locate the material (i.e. website addresses);
  4. Information reasonably sufficient to permit the ISP to contact the copyright owner (i.e. address, telephone number, e-mail, etc.);
  5. A statement that the copyright owner has a good faith belief that the use of their content is not authorized by the copyright owner; and
  6. A statement that the information provided is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
Australia
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Australia adopted notice and takedown protocols based on a side letter annexed in the U.S-Australia FTA.
Governing Legislation
Regulation 20(I-J), 1969 Copyright Regulations
, Schedule 10 (Part 1), 1969 Copyright Regulations
Notice Requirements

  1. The statement: “I, the person whose name is stated below, issue this notification for the purposes of condition 3 of item 4 of the table in subsection 116AH(1) of the Copyright Act 1968 and regulation 20(I) of the Copyright Regulations 1969.”
  2. The statement: “I am the owner (or agent of the owner of the copyright) in the copyright material specified in the Schedule [See number 7 below], being copyright material residing on your system or network.”
  3. (If submitted by a copyright owner) The statement: “I believe, in good faith, that the storage of the specified copyright material on your system or network is not authorized by the copyright owner or a licensee, or the Copyright Act 1968, and is therefore an infringement of the copyright in that material.”;
  4. (If submitted by a copyright owner’s agent) The statement: “I believe, in good faith, that the storage of the specified copyright material on your system or network is not authorized by the copyright owner or a licensee of the copyright owner, or the Copyright Act 1968, and is therefore an infringement of the copyright in that material”;
  5. (If submitted by a copyright owner’s agent) The statement: “I have taken reasonable steps to ensure that the information and statements in this notice are accurate.”;
  6. The copyright owner or their agent’s name, address, e-mail address, telephone number and fax number; and
  7. An attached schedule to the notice including a description of the copyright material and the location of the infringing content.
Brunei Darussalam
Enforcement System Judicial System
Overview and Notes Brunei does not currently maintain any legal means for Authorized Parties to directly petition ISPs to takedown infringing content. However, recent reports have indicated that Bruneian authorities are evaluating copyright reforms, which may include ISP notice and takedown protocols.[6]
Governing Legislation N/A
Notice Requirements N/A

Canada
Enforcement System Notice and Notice
Overview and Notes Although Canada considered adopting a notice and takedown protocols in 2006, they opted for a notice and notice system in 2012 in order to balance the interests of copyright owners and Internet users.[7]
Governing Legislation
Section 41.25-41.27, The Copyright Act
Notice Requirements

  1. Must be in writing;
  2. State the claimant’s name, address and other relevant communication information;
  3. Identify the work or other subject-matter to which the claimed infringement relates;
  4. State the claimant’s interest or right with respect to the copyright in the work or other subject-matter;
  5. Specify the location data for the electronic location to which the claimed infringement relates;
  6. Specify the infringement that is claimed;
  7. Specify the date and time of the commission of the claimed infringement; and
  8. Provide any other information or as provided by other regulations.

Chile
Enforcement System Judicial System (*notice and takedown variation)
Overview and Notes Chile rejected adopting notice and takedown protocols in both the U.S.-Chile FTA and proposed copyright reforms in 2010.[8] Instead, Chile requires that Authorized Parties submit an expedited judicial petition to evaluate alleged infringement and be granted a takedown.
Governing Legislation
Article 85R, Law No. 20.435 (amending Law No. 17.336 on Intellectual Property
Judicial Petition
Requirements

  1. The allegedly infringed rights, with a specific indication of the rights and the infringement procedure;
  2. The infringing material; and
  3. The location of the infringing material in the respective ISP network or system.

Japan
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Japan’s notice and takedown protocols establishes that allegedly infringing content will be taken down seven days after notice is provided from the ISP to the alleged infringer.
Governing Legislation
Article 3(2)(ii), Act No. 137 0f 2001 (Act on the Limitation of Liability for Damages of Specified Telecommunications Service Providers and the Right to Demand Disclosure of Identification Information of the Senders)
Notice Requirements

  1. Information and location of the particular alleged infringement;
  2. Suggested enforcement actions to be taken by the ISP;
  3. The rights in the work that are allegedly being infringed;
  4. The reasoning why the copyright owner/rights holder believes that an infringement has taken place; and
  5. The copyright owner/rights holder’s contact information.

Malaysia
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Malaysia enacted copyright reforms in 2010 that permit Authorized Parties to submit infringement notices to ISPs that will remove infringing content within 48 hours of notice to the alleged infringer from the ISP. However, The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has criticized Malaysia’s notice and takedown protocols for not providing enough details about notice requirements and enforcement procedures.[9]
Governing Legislation
Article 43H, Copyright (Amendment) Act 2010
Notice Requirements As mentioned, Malaysia does not provide specific content requirements for ISP takedown notices.

Mexico
Enforcement System Judicial System
Overview and Notes Mexico has no legal procedures for Authorized Parties to remove infringing online content short of seeking judicial action. It is also important to note that Mexican telecommunications laws prohibit ISPs from disclosing their customers’ personal information.[10]
Governing Legislation N/A
Notice Requirements N/A

New Zealand
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown-Judicial System Mix (aka Three Strikes)
Overview After enacting notice and takedown protocols in 2008, New Zealand repealed them in February 2010. They were replaced with a Three Strikes System, requiring Authorized Parties to submit multiple notices to an ISP, and a takedown application to the New Zealand Copyright Tribunal in order to obtain the removal of infringing content. The Three Strike System subjects the Authorized Party to fees of NW$25.00 (US$20.00) per notice, and NZ$200.00 (US$208.00) per application.[11]
Governing Legislation
Section 92C and 92D, Copyright Act 1994
;
Section 4, Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Regulations 2011
Notice Requirements

  1. Copyright owner’s name;
  2. Copyright owner’s contact details (e-mail address, telephone number, physical address, mailing address in New Zealand (if no physical address);
  3. (If a rights owner is acting as an agent for the copyright owner) Evidence of the rights owner’s authority to act as agent for the copyright owner;
  4. Identify the IP address at which the infringements are alleged to have occurred;
  5. The date on which the infringements are alleged to have occurred at that IP address;
  6. For each copyright work in which copyright is alleged to have been infringed: (i) the name of the copyright owner in the work; (ii) the name of the work, along with any unique identifiers by which it can be identified; (iii)
 the type of work it is (in terms of section 14(1) of the Act); (iv) 
the restricted act or acts (in terms of section 16(1) of the Act) by which copyright in the work is alleged to have been infringed; (v) the New Zealand date and time when the alleged infringement occurred or commenced, which must specify the hour, minute, and second; and (vi)  the file sharing application or network used in the alleged infringement; and
  7. A statement that, to the best of the rights owner/copyright owner’s knowledge, the information provided in the notice is true and correct; and that statement must be verified by a signature (physical or digital) of the rights owner/copyright owner or a person authorized to sign on behalf of the rights owner/copyright owner.

Peru
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Peru adopted notice and takedown protocols based on a side letter annexed in the U.S-Peru Free Trade Agreement.
Governing Legislation Copyright Law (Legislative Decree No. 822)
Notice Requirements

  1. Statement that the information in the notice is accurate;
  2. Information reasonably sufficient to enable the ISP to identify the copyrighted work(s) appeared to have been infringed;
  3. The identity, address, telephone number and electronic mail address of the complaining party (or its authorized agent);
  4. Statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by copyright owner, its owner, its agent or the law;
  5. Statement with sufficient indicia of reliability (such as a statement under penalty of perjury or equivalent legal sanctions) that the complaining party is the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed or is authorized to act on the owner’s behalf; and
  6. Signature of the person giving notice.
Singapore
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Singapore adopted its notice and takedown protocols in 2006 based on a side letter agreement annexed in the U.S-Singapore FTA.
Governing Legislation
Section 193C(2)(b) Copyright Act (Chapter 63)
, Copyright (Network Service Provider) Regulations 2005
Notice Requirements

  1. Name and address of the complainant (if acting on the copyright owner’s behalf);
  2. Complainant address for service in Singapore (if a non-Singapore resident);
  3. Complainant’s telephone number, fax number and e-mail address;
  4. Identification of copyright material and location of allegedly infringing content;
  5. A statement that the information in the notice is accurate;
  6. A statement that the complainant is the owner or exclusive licensee of the copyright in the material referred to in complaint or is authorized to act on behalf of the owner or exclusive licensee of the copyright in the material referred to in the notice;
  7. A statement that the complainant requires the network service provider to remove or disable access to the allegedly infringing content;
  8. A statement that the complainant or their agent, in good faith, believes that the electronic copy referred to in the notice is an infringing copy of the protected material content;
  9. A statement that the complainant is the owner, exclusive licensee, or agent thereof of the copyrighted content; and
  10. A statement that the complainant submits to the jurisdiction of the courts in Singapore for the purposes of any proceedings relating to any offense under section 193DD(1) of the Copyright Act or any liability under section 193DD(1)(b) of the Copyright Act.

Vietnam
Enforcement System Judicial System
Overview and Notes Although Vietnam recently adopted Internet liability reforms under the Internet Laws (Decree No. 72/2013), such reforms were silent on online copyright enforcement. The IIPA has criticized Vietnam for failing to adopt effective procedures to address online piracy administrative complaints.[12]
Governing Legislation N/A
Notice Requirements N/A


**Important Note**
: Even if a country maintains notice and takedown protocols, an ISP is generally not obligated to take down infringing content despite legal incentives to do so. Those with further questions about a TPP member state’s online copyright enforcement procedures should seek qualified counsel in that particular country.


[1] Joint Press Statement TPP Ministerial Meeting Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Aug. 2013, available at http://www.ustr.gov/Joint-Press-Statement-TPP-Ministerial-Brunei.
[2] See Sean Flynn, Margot Kiminski, Brook Baker and Jimmy Koo, Public Interest Analysis of the US TPP Proposal for an IP Chapter, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property: American University Washington College of Law, 3, Dec. 6, 2011, available at http://infojustice.org/tpp-analysis-december2011.
[3] Id. at 50.
[4] Copyright Issues in the TPP: Malaysia, Public Citizen, 2012, available at http://www.citizen.org/TPP-Copyright-Issues-MY#_ftnref.
[5] See id.
[6] See Calls For Brunei To Carry Tougher Copyright Laws, The Brunei Times, Aug. 10, 2013, available at http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2013/08/10/calls-brunei-carry-tougher-copyright-laws.
[7] Paul Chwelos, Assessing the Economic Impacts of Copyright Reform on Internet Service Providers, Industry Canada, Jan. 2006, available at http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/ippd-dppi.nsf/eng/ip01090.html; Bob Taratino, Online Infringement: Canadian “Notice and Notice” vs US “Notice and Takedown”, Heenan Blaikie LLP, Jun. 27, 2012, available at http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=e0e3ffdb-a96f-4176-add3-92fd2812d4bc.
[8] Chile’s Notice-and-Takedown System for Copyright Protection: An Alternative Approach, Center for Democracy & Technology, Aug. 28, 2012, available at https://www.cdt.org/files/pdfs/Chile-notice-takedown.pdf.
[9] IIPA 2012 Report: Malaysia, IIPA, 207-08, 2012, available at http://www.iipa.com/rbc/2012/2012SPEC301MALAYSIA.PDF.
[10] IIPA 2013 Report: Mexico, IIPA, 210, 2013, available at http://www.iipa.com/rbc/2013/2013SPEC301MEXICO.PDF.
[11] Section 92A Bill Introduced in Parliament Today, Behive.Gov.Nz, Feb. 23, 2010, available at http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/section-92a-bill-introduced-parliament-today.
[12] IIPA 2013 Report: Vietnam, IIPA, 289, 2013, available at http://www.iipa.com/rbc/2013/2013SPEC301VIETNAM.PDF.