Category: Copyrights

Interested in Crowdfunding?

For those who are interested in IP and other legal issues surrounding crowdfunding, I will be speaking on a panel at the Washington Lawyers for the Arts and Seattle University of School of Law‘s seminar entitled Crowdfunding 101: Funding Your Passion on September 19, 2014. Particularly, I will be presenting on the legal obligations and risks fundraising campaigners sign onto through the terms of use on major crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe. Further information on attending the seminar can be found here.

Hope you can make it. It should be fun!

IP and Business Presentation in Vancouver, B.C.

Wanted to let you all know that my colleague Rachel Buker (blogger for Art and Artifice) and I will be giving a free lunch-time presentation on IP and business legal issues Canadian entrepreneurs, start-ups and other businesses may face as they enter the U.S. market (and other foreign markets) on September 12th at noon at HiVE Vancouver.

There are only a few open spots available, so if you are going to be in Vancouver and want to attend, please RSVP through Eventbrite.

Hope you can make it! It should be a good time.

Enforcing Online Copyright Protections Abroad: Part II – South and East Asia

One of the most popular posts in The IP Exporter’s history was a posting last year entitled Enforcing Online Copyright Protections Abroad: Understanding Foreign Takedown Notice Requirements, which detailed how copyright owners and certain licensees of works (collectively “Rights Holders”) can directly enforce their rights in their works against foreign hosted websites in some of the world’s major markets (U.S., Australia, China, Japan, South Africa, and the United Kingdom).

Since I published that post, I have received numerous requests to provide information on procedures Rights Holders can take to directly enforce their rights online in several other foreign markets. To meet this demand, I have decided to ambitiously attempt to provide a multi-volume posting on the availability of notice and takedown procures in all countries throughout the world, starting with this post on notice and takedown procedures in South and East Asia.

However, before I delve into each country’s online copyright enforcement procedures, Rights Holders need to first evaluate a few issues before utilizing online copyright enforcement measures abroad.

1. Is the Work Entitled to Foreign Protection? A Rights Holder should not consider utilizing online takedown procedures in a foreign country without first establishing that their work qualifies for copyright protection in that foreign country. Often, this depends on whether their work qualifies for protection under: (1) the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention) or other bilateral or multilateral treaties; and (2) the national copyright laws of the foreign country in question.

Berne Convention/Treaties. To qualify for protection under the Berne Convention, a Rights Holder’s work must become what is known as “attached.” Attachment requires that either:

  • the author of the work be a national of a Berne Convention member state (A list of Berne Convention member states is available here);
  • the author is a habitual resident of a Berne Convention member state;
  • the work is first published (made available to the public) in a Berne Convention member state; or
  • the work is published in a Berne Convention member state within thirty (30) days after an initial publishing in a non-Berne Convention member state.

If a work does not qualify for protection under the Berne Convention, it may qualify for copyright protection in a foreign country under a bilateral or multilateral treaty between the author’s home country and the foreign country in question. If the non-Berne Convention country is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has ratified the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the work may qualify for Berne Convention-like protection in other WTO member states.

Additionally, a work may qualify for protection in a foreign country based on a bilateral or multilateral agreement. A database of IP-related treaties can be found here.

National Copyright Protection Requirements. If a work qualifies for protection under the Berne Convention, TRIPS, or another bilateral or multilateral treaty, it must then qualify for protection under the copyright laws of whatever foreign country the Rights Holder wishes to enforce their rights. Many countries have similar copyright protection requirements, yet they do differ. For example a copyright protected work in the U.S. is an “original work of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.” 17 U.S.C. § 102(a). Conversely, a copyright protected work in Japan is “a production in which thoughts or sentiments are expressed in a creative way and which falls within the literary, scientific, artistic or musical domain.” Copyright Act. No. 48, Art. 2. Although these requirements end up covering much of the same types of works, there may be divergences depending on the type of work in question. A Rights Holder should consider consulting with qualified attorney in the country they wish to enforce their rights if they are unsure whether their work qualifies for local copyright protection.

2. Where is the Website’s ISP Subject to Jurisdiction? In order to effectively submit a takedown notice against an infringing website, the infringing website’s Internet service provider (ISP) must be subject to a country that has notice and takedown laws. This requires evaluating whether a notice and takedown country has personal jurisdiction over the ISP in question. Generally, a website’s ISP is only subject to the laws of a country where it is physically located or countries where it is engaged in enough commercial activity to establish personal jurisdiction. Determining an infringing website’s ISP’s location may be completed through conducting a WHOIS database search. However, such a search is a not guarantee that a website ISP’s will be accurately located.

Further, determining whether a website’s ISP is subject to a foreign country’s jurisdiction is a complex legal evaluation that differs from country to country based on each country’s own personal jurisdiction requirements. Again, a Rights Holder should consider consulting with qualified counsel in the country where they wish to submit a takedown notice to determine whether the ISP in question is subject to that country’s jurisdiction.

3. What is the Country’s National Online Copyright Enforcement System? If a work qualifies for copyright protection in a foreign country where an infringing website’s ISP is subject to personal jurisdiction, a Rights Holder then needs to establish whether that country has a notice and takedown system, and if available, such country’s specific takedown procedures.

Below is a brief overview of each South and East Asian country’s copyright enforcement system. However, there are few things to first consider:

Enforcement System Legend: Countries that maintain legal protocols for Rights Holders to directly petition ISPs to remove infringing content are identified below as a “Notice and Takedown Systems.” Countries that do not have means for Rights Holders to directly enforce their copyright protections through ISP notification systems, and are instead forced to seek copyright enforcement action through the Courts are referred to as “Judicial Systems.”

Notice Limitations: Unfortunately, even if a country maintains a Notice and Takedown System, an ISP may still refuse to disable a website or website content upon receipt of a takedown notice from a Right Holder. In such instances, a Rights Holder may be forced to seek enforcement through that foreign country’s judicial system in order to remove such content.

Time Sensitivity: As many of the listed countries in this posting are either evaluating or in the process of implementing copyright reforms, either on a national level or through bilateral or multilateral trade agreements, there is the possibility that the following information may soon change.

Here are each country’s online copyright enforcement system:

Afghanistan

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: No

Overview and Notes: Afghanistan is not a Berne Convention or TRIPS member state, meaning that foreign works may not qualify for copyright protection under Afghan Law. However, works from the U.S. may be entitled to certain legal protections in Afghanistan under the Joint Statement of Commercial Cooperation between U.S. and Afghan governments as both governments agreed to “establish a forum for the exchange of information on commercial matters . . . including intellectual property rights protection and enforcement.” However, the Joint Statement provides no specific details on what rights U.S. Rights Holders are entitled to under Afghan law.

Governing Legislation: Law Supporting the Rights of Authors, Composers, Artists and Researchers (Copyright Law)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Bangladesh

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Bangladesh does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act, 2000 (Act No. 28 of 2000 – Amended 2005)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Bhutan

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Bhutan does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act and Industrial Property Act of 2001

Notice Requirements: N/A

Brunei Darussalam

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Brunei does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders. Particularly, Article 10 of the Electronic Transactions Order (2000) eliminates an ISP’s liability for hosting infringing third party content. However, Brunei may adopt a Notice and Takedown System in the future if the U.S.’ Proposed IPR Chapter of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is adopted.

Governing Legislation: Emergency Copyright Ordinance (2000)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Cambodia

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes*

Overview and Notes: Cambodia is not a Berne Convention member state but is a TRIPS signatory, which requires upholding much of the Berne Convention’s protections. However, Cambodia does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Law on Copyright and Related Rights

Notice Requirements: N/A

China (PRC)

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Although China maintains and a Notice and Takedown System, there has been reports that many of China’s major ISPs fail to takedown hosted content upon receipt of legitimate takedown notices. For example, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has criticized Baidu for its 42% takedown rate.

Governing Legislation: Article 14, Regulations on the Protection of the Right to Network Dissemination of Information Networks

Notice Requirements:

-The Rights Holder’s name, address and contact information;
-The title(s) and website address(es) of the infringing content which is requested to be removed or disconnected;
-Preliminary evidence of the work(s)’ infringement; and
-A request that the ISP remove the infringing content.

East Timor (Timor Leste)

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: No

Overview and Notes: By not being a Berne Convention or TRIPS member state, foreign works may not qualify for copyright protection under East Timorese law. Further, East Timor has not passed any specific copyright legislation since its independence in 2002.

Governing Legislation: N/A

Notice Requirements: N/A

Hong Kong

Enforcement System: Voluntary Notice and Takedown System/Judicial System.

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Although the Hong Kong Commerce and Economic Development Bureau drafted a proposed Notice and Takedown system in the Code of Conduct for Online Service Providers, Hong Kong has yet to formally enact a Notice and Takedown system. The Code of Conduct’s notice and takedown provisions have since become voluntary guidelines for Rights Holders and ISPs to manage online copyright infringement complaints.

Governing Legislation: Section 3.5, Form A, Code of Conduct for Online Service Providers (voluntary guidelines), Copyright Ordinance (Cap. 528) (mandatory)

Notice Requirements (from the Code of Conduct):

-The Rights Holder’s name, address for service in Hong Kong, contact telephone number, and any other relevant contact information;
-Particulars of the copyright work(s) alleged to be infringed including the name or description of the copyright work(s), type of work(s), date of creation or first publication of the copyright work(s), and name of the current owner of the work;
-A statement confirming that the Rights Holder submitting the complaint is the copyright owner or authorized representative of the copyright owner;
-Identification and online location of the material and/or activity which is the subject of the alleged infringement;
-In cases of information location tools, identification of the reference or link to the material or activity in question and its location;
-Description of how the material or activity in question infringes the copyright owner’s rights in the copyright work(s);
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder believes in good faith that use of the material, or conduct of the activity in the manner complained of is not authorized by the law of Hong Kong, the copyright owner or its authorized representative(s);
-A request that the ISP send a copy of the notice to its subscriber whose account for online services has been used or involved in the alleged infringement;
-A request that the ISP remove the allegedly infringing material, disable access to the infringing material/activity;
-A declaration that the submitting Rights Holder declares that the information contained in this notice is true and accurate to the best of his knowledge and belief;
-A declaration that the submitting Rights Holder understands that it is an offence to make any false statement in this notice (the maximum penalty of which is a fine of HK$5,000 and imprisonment of 2 years), and that he or she is also liable to pay compensation by way of damages to any person who suffers loss or damage as a result of the false statement; and
-Signature and date of the submitting Rights Holder.

India

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System (temporary)

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: India’s notice and takedown protocols establish that allegedly infringing content will be taken down 36 hours after a Rights Holder submits a takedown notice to an ISP, and the ISP provides notice of the Rights Holder’s notice submission to the alleged infringer. If the Rights Holder’s notice is satisfactory to the ISP, the ISP will restrict access to the infringing website(s) for 21 days from the date of receipt of the Rights Holder’s notice or until the ISP receives a Court order restricting public access to the alleged infringing website(s), whichever is earlier.

It is important to note that only an owner or an exclusive licensee of a copyright-protected work may submit a notice pursuant to India’s notice and takedown protocols.

Governing Legislation: Rule 75, The Copyright Rules, 2013

Notice Requirements:

-The description of the work infringed with adequate information to identify the work;
-Details establishing that the submitting Rights Holder is the owner or exclusive licensee of copyright in the work;
-Details establishing that the copy of the work which is the subject matter of transient or incidental storage is an infringing copy of the work owned or exclusively licensed by the submitting Rights Holder and that the allegedly infringing act is not covered under section 52 or any other act that is permitted under the Copyright Act (1957);
-Details of the location where transient or incidental storage of the work is taking place;
-Details of the person, if known, who is responsible for uploading the work infringing the copyright of the submitting Rights Holder; and
-Signature and date of the submitting Rights Holder.

Indonesia

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Indonesia does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders. The Indonesian Parliament is reported to be evaluating amendments to its copyright laws that will create a Rights Holder Internet copyright notification system through the Ministry of Communications and Informatics that will evaluate alleged infringements and order that ISPs takedown infringing content. The IIPA has criticized this proposed copyright enforcement system as it does not provide injunctive relief against non-compliant ISPs, nor a repeat infringer policy, or allow Rights Holders to submit complaint notices directly to ISPs.

Governing Legislation: Law No. 19 of July 29, 2002 on Copyright

Notice Requirements: N/A

Japan

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Japan’s notice and takedown protocols establish that allegedly infringing content will be taken down seven (7) days after a Rights Holder submit a notice to an ISP, and the ISP provides notice 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:

-Information and location of the particular alleged infringement;
-Suggested enforcement actions to be taken by the ISP;
-The rights in the work that are allegedly being infringed;
-The reasoning why the Rights Holder believes that an infringement has taken place; and
-The Rights Holder’s contact information.

Laos

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Laos does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Law No. 01/NA of December 20, 2011, on Intellectual Property

Notice Requirements: N/A

Macau

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Macau does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Decree-Law no. 43/99/M (Regime of Copyright and Related Rights)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Malaysia

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Malaysia recently enacted copyright reforms that permit Rights Holders to submit infringement notices to ISPs that will remove hosted infringing content within 48 hours of notice of the alleged infringement to the ISP. However, Malaysia’s notice and takedown protocols do not providing specific notice requirements.

Governing Legislation: Article 43H – Copyright (Amendment) Act 2012

Notice Requirements: As mentioned, Malaysia does not provide specific requirements for ISP takedown notices.

Maldives

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes*

Overview and Notes: Maldives is not a Berne Convention member state, yet is a TRIPS signatory that requires that  Maldives uphold much of the Berne Convention’s protections. Maldives does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright and Related Rights Act 2010

Notice Requirements: N/A

Mongolia

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Mongolia’s copyright legislation requires that ISPs prevent any copyright violation on websites they host and provide Right Holders the ability to enforce their rights through submitting reports to the ISPs of such violations. However, the legislation provides no specific requirements for such “reports.”

Governing Legislation: Article 25, Law of Mongolia on Copyright and Related Rights

Notice Requirements: Unspecified

Myanmar

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes*

Overview and Notes: Myanmar is not a Berne Convention member state, yet is a TRIPS signatory. However, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization, Myanmar’s current copyright laws “do not prescribe copyright of other countr[ies] to be recorded in Myanmar and copyright obtained in other countries can not be enforced in [Myanmar].”

Further, Myanmar does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act of 1914

Notice Requirements: N/A

Nepal

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Nepal does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act, 2059 (2002)

Notice Requirements: N/A

North Korea

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: North Korea does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing LegislationCopyright Law of the DPPK (Amended by Decree No. 1532 of February 1, 2006)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Pakistan

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Pakistan does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing LegislationCopyright (Amendment) Act, 1992

Notice Requirements: N/A

Philippines

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Philippines does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: E-Commerce Act (Republic Act. No. 8792)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Taiwan

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Taiwan’s notice and takedown protocols establish that allegedly infringing content will be taken down five days after notice is provided from a Rights Holder to an ISP, and from the ISP to the alleged infringer.

Governing Legislation: Article 3 – Regulations Governing Implementation of ISP Civil Liability Exemption, Article 90terdecies – the Copyright Act

Notice Requirements:

-The Rights Holder’s name, address, and telephone number (or fax number or e-mail address);
-The name(s) of the copyrighted work(s) being infringed;
-A statement requesting the removal of, or disabling of access to, the content that allegedly infringes the identified copyrighted work(s);
-Access or relevant information sufficient to enable the notified ISP to identify the allegedly infringing content;
-A statement that the Rights Holder or the agent thereof is acting in good faith and in the belief that the allegedly infringing content lacks lawful licensing or is otherwise in violation of the Copyright Act; and
-A declaration that the Rights Holder is willing to bear legal liability in the event there is misrepresentation with resultant injury to another.

Thailand

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Prior to its dissolution in December 2013, Thailand’s Parliament had evaluated copyright law reforms to enhance online copyright enforcement. However, such proposed reforms would only allow Thai Courts to issue takedown orders against ISPs hosting infringing content and provided no direct notice and takedown procedures for Rights Holders to directly petition ISPs to remove infringing content.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act B.E. 2537 (1994)

Notice Requirements: N/A

South Korea

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: South Korea adopted notice and takedown protocols mirroring measures under U.S. copyright law (DMCA – 17 U.S.C. § 512) based on a side letter annexed in the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement.

Governing Legislation: Article 102-103 – Copyright Act

Notice Requirements:

-Statement that the information in the notice is accurate;
-Information reasonably sufficient to enable the ISP to identify the copyrighted work(s) that appear to have been infringed;
-The identity, address, telephone number and electronic mail address of the submitting Rights Holder;
-Statement that the submitting Rights Holder has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
-Statement with sufficient indicia of reliability (such as a statement under penalty of perjury or equivalent legal sanctions) that the submitting Rights Holder is the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed or is authorized to act on the Rights Holder’s behalf; and
-Signature of the submitting Rights Holder.

Singapore

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Singapore adopted its notice and takedown protocols in 2006 based on a side letter agreement annexed in the U.S-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

Governing Legislation: Section 193(2)(b) – Copyright Act (Chapter 63), Copyright (Network Service Provider) Regulations 2005

Notice Requirements:

-Name and address of the submitting Rights Holder;
-Submitting Rights Holder address for service in Singapore (if a non-Singapore resident);
-Submitting Rights Holder’s telephone number, fax number and e-mail address;
-Identification of copyright material and location of allegedly infringing content;
-A statement that the information in the notice is accurate;
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder 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;
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder requires the ISP to remove or disable access to the allegedly infringing content;
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder 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;
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder is the owner, exclusive licensee, or agent thereof of the copyrighted content; and
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder 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.

Sri Lanka

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Sri Lanka does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Intellectual Property Act, No. 36 of 2003

Notice Requirements: N/A

Vietnam

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Although Vietnam recently considered Internet liability reforms as detailed in the proposed Stipulations on the Responsibilities for Intermediary Service Providers in the Protection of Copyright and Related Rights on the Internet and Telecommunications Networks (Joint Circular No. 07/2012/TTLT-BTTTT-BVHTTDL), such reforms have yet to be enacted and do not contain any specific notice and takedown provisions. However, Vietnam may adopt notice and takedown procedures in the future if the U.S.’ draft IPR provisions of the TPP are adopted.

Governing Legislation: Law No. 50/2005

Notice Requirements: N/A

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.

Canada Announces Official Implementation Date of the Notice and Notice Copyright System: What Copyright Owners Need to Know

Canadian government officials announced last week that Canada will formally adopt its notice and notice online copyright enforcement system (“Notice and Notice System”) starting in January 2015. Passed in recent updates to Canada’s copyright laws, The Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11), the Notice and Notice System will require that Internet intermediaries, such as Internet service providers (ISPs) and website hosts, either notify their customers of allegedly infringing conduct or remove infringing content they host upon receiving a notice of alleged infringement from a copyright owner or the owner’s authorized agent.

Although the Notice and Notice System claims to strike a balance between the rights of copyright owners and Internet users, it has been criticized by industry groups and practitioners (including myself) as being an ineffective system to allow copyright owners to directly enforce rights in their works online short of a judicial action, especially in comparison to its U.S. counterpart under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“Notice and Takedown System”). Despite these criticisms, it does not appear that Canada will adopt stronger online enforcement measures in the foreseeable future, meaning copyright owners and their agents need to understand the Notice and Notice System’s procedures, and potential alternative enforcement measures, in order to effectively protect their works online in Canada.

So what do copyright owners and their agents need to know about the Notice and Notice System?

Notice Procedures. In order to utilize the Notice and Notice System, a copyright owner or their agent must submit a notice to the Internet intermediary hosting the infringing work in order for the Internet intermediary to take action. According to Bill C-11, a notice must:

  1. State the claimant’s (copyright owner or agent’s) name, address and other relevant communication information;
  2. Identify the work or other subject-matter to which the claimed infringement relates;
  3. State the claimant’s interest or right with respect to the copyright in the work or other subject-matter;
  4. Specify the location to which the claimed infringement occurs;
  5. Specify the infringement that is claimed;
  6. Specify the date and time of the claimed infringement; and
  7. Provide any other relevant information or information required by other Canadian regulations.

Drawbacks. As mentioned, the Notice and Notice System is a weaker online copyright enforcement regime compared to systems in other countries such as the U.S.’ Notice and Takedown System, and regimes in Australia and Japan (among others). Particularly, the Notice and Notice System does not mandate that an Internet intermediary remove infringing content upon notice of an alleged copyright infringement in order for the intermediary evade contributory liability. Further, the penalty an Internet intermediary may face for failure to comply with a notice’s requested takedown is substantially less compared to penalties under U.S. copyright law. Further information on these deficiencies can be found here.

Implementation. Although the Notice and Notice System will not formally come into force until January 2015, many Canadian Internet intermediaries already adhere to its system on a voluntary basis. This means that copyright owners and their agents should at least consider utilizing the Notice and Notice System now as many Internet intermediaries have already adopted its procedures.

Alternative Online Enforcement Measures. Despite the Notice and Notice System’s relative weakness compared to its U.S. and other foreign counterparts, many Canadian Internet intermediaries may be brought under U.S. jurisdiction, and thereby be subject to more forceful enforcement measures under the Notice and Takedown System. This requires that an infringed online work qualify for protection in the U.S. and that the Internet intermediary in question be subject to U.S. jurisdiction based on their activities and interactions with the U.S. market. Further information on qualifications for the U.S. Notice and Takedown System can be found here.

What’s The Takeaway? Canada’s Notice and Notice System is a weaker system for copyright owners to directly enforce their rights in their copyright-protected works online. However, knowing its enforcement procedures as well as viable alternative enforcement measures can help to ensure that copyright owners can more effectively protect their works online in Canada and potentially beyond. That being said, a copyright owner should consider working with a qualified IP attorney in order to ensure that they effectively utilize the Notice and Notice System as well as other countries’ online copyright enforcement systems.

Led Zeppelin’s Upcoming Copyright Infringement Lawsuit May Be Dramatically Impacted By Recent U.S. Laches Developments

I have again had the priviledge to be a guest contributor to the UK IP blog The IPKat on the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today in Petrella v Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. on Led Zeppelin’s pending copyright infringement lawsuit

It is available at: http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2014/05/breaking-news-scotus-casts-shadow-on.html.

U.S. Gun Manufacturer in Copyright Dispute With Italian Government Over a Gun-Toting David

Today, I had the privilege to provide a guest contribution to one of my favorite legal blogs, Art and Artifice, on a story about a U.S. weapons manufacturer who is in a copyright dispute with the Italian government over an advertisement depicting Michelangelo’s David toting the manufacturer’s rifle. Check it out at http://aandalawblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/armalite-in-italys-sights-over-gun.html.