Category: WIPO

The Effectiveness of the Trans Pacific Partnership’s Internet Service Provider Copyright Safe Harbour Scheme

I am happy to announce that I have the honor of publishing an article in the European Intellectual Property Review (EIPR) to be released this month. Titled “The Effectiveness of the Trans Pacific Partnership’s Internet Service Provider Copyright Safe Harbour Scheme,” the article examines the Trans Pacific Partnership’s (TPP) proposed copyright safe harbor provisions for Internet Service Providers (ISP), its implications on existing TPP member state ISP safe harbor regimes, and rights holders’ abilities to enforce rights in their works online in such states.

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

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Interview with IP Fridays on the TPP and Online Copyright Enforcement

Last week, I had the privilege to be interviewed for one of my favorite podcasts, IP or otherwise, IP Fridays about online copyright enforcement implications under the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP; Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam). Particularly, I discussed the implications of the TPP’s proposed Internet service provider (ISP) safe harbor scheme, and how it will affect TPP member states’ current copyright laws, copyright rights holders, ISPs, and Internet freedoms, as will be further detailed in my article on the same topic for the European Intellectual Property Review to be released in March 2016.

A link to the podcast can be found here.

Nigeria Proposes Adoption of Notice and Takedown Safe Harbor Scheme

Intellectual Property (IP) Watch reported late last month that Nigeria was in the process of reforming its copyright laws for the digital age, including the adoption of its own notice and takedown Internet service provider (ISP) safe harbor scheme. As detailed in the Nigerian Copyright Commission’s (NCC) draft 2015 Copyright Bill (Draft Bill), the proposed notice and takedown scheme would create extrajudicial legal procedures in which an owner of a copyright protected work can petition a ISP subject to Nigerian jurisdiction to remove content hosted by the ISP that infringes the work. Like in the U.S. under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and other countries that have notice and takedown safe harbor schemes, such an ISP would be required to remove such hosted content under certain circumstances in order to qualify for a safe harbor form contributory liability for copyright infringement.

If adopted, such procedures would make Nigeria one of the few countries in Africa with a notice and takedown scheme, giving copyright owners greater means of online enforcement of their rights in Nigeria, and potentially beyond. However, Nigeria’s draft notice and takedown scheme varies from its foreign counterparts. Further, it is uncertain whether it will be adopted, and if so, whether it will be adopted in its proposed form. To understand these issues, it is important to first understand the provisions of Nigeria’s proposed notice and takedown scheme.

Proposed Measures

Section 47 of the Draft Bill provides that an owner of a copyright-protected work or their agent (Complainant) may submit a notice of alleged online infringement of their work to an ISP hosting such infringing content. In order for such a notice to be effective, it must include the following information:

  • A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right in a work that is allegedly infringed;
  • Identification of each work claimed to have been infringed;
  • Identification of the content that is claimed to be infringing such work(s), and information reasonably sufficient to permit the ISP to locate such content;
  • Contact information reasonably sufficient to permit the ISP to contact the Complainant, such as an e-mail address, telephone number, and/or physical address;
  • A statement under penalty of perjury that the Complainant has a good faith belief that use of the allegedly infringing content in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, their agent, or the law; and
  • A statement that the information in the notice is accurate, and that the Complainant is authorized to act on behalf of a owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

Once a notice is submitted to an ISP, the ISP shall promptly notify their subscriber hosting the allegedly infringing content (Subscriber) of receipt of the notice. If the Subscriber fails to provide the ISP with information justifying their use of such content within ten days after the receipt of the ISP’s notification, the ISP must take down or disable access to such content. However, if the Subscriber provides information justifying their legitimate use of the content, or the ISP is convinced that the Complainant’s notice is without merit, the ISP will promptly inform the Complainant of their decision not to takedown or disable such content.

An ISP can restore access to taken down or disabled content if the ISP receives a written counter-notice from the Subscriber, which the ISP has forwarded to the Complainant immediately upon receipt; and the ISP does not receive, within 10 days, a subsequent notice from the Complainant indicating that no authorization has been granted to the Subscriber for use of the content.

Further, the Draft Bill states that an ISP shall not be liable for any action taken under the notice and takedown scheme that is taken in “good faith.” A copyright owner dissatisfied with a determination or action by an ISP may refer their matter to the NCC for further evaluation.

Evaluating The Proposed Scheme

Now that we know the NCC’s proposed notice and takedown scheme under the Draft Bill, what are its strengths and weaknesses?

Mandated Removal: The Draft Bill obligates an ISP to remove infringing content upon receipt of a Complainant’s notice. As such, it ultimately makes the Draft Bill’s notice and takedown scheme more robust than ISP safe harbors without mandated take down or disabling provisions. For example, the NCC’s proposed scheme is more robust that notification systems that solely require an ISP to notify a Subscriber of their infringing acts upon receipt of a Subscriber’s notice as in Canada, or national schemes that require multiple Complainant notifications and/or expedited judicial action in order for a ISP to be mandated to take action as in New Zealand or Chile.

Delayed Response Time: While the NCC’s proposed scheme mandates an ISP’s removal of hosted content under certain circumstances, it only mandates that an ISP remove infringing content 10 days after receiving a Complainant’s notice and upon receiving no response from a Subscriber. This contrasts from the DMCA that requires an ISP to act “expeditiously” to remove infringing content upon receipt of a Complainant’s notice. See 17 U.S.C. § 512(b)(2)(E). However, the NCC’s proposed scheme still mandates that an ISP eventually remove infringing content after the 10 day period, mirroring similar waiting periods in other countries (Japan (7 day wait period), and Malaysia (48 hours), among others), and without requiring any reposting of such content should no further legal action be taken by the Complainant (as in India).

Ambiguous Exemption: While the Draft Bill obligates an ISP to remove infringing content under qualifying circumstances as described above, its good faith clause may allow an ISP to evade liability for failing to remove infringing content should the ISP’s acts or omissions be considered in good faith. Without any further definition of “good faith” in the Draft Bill, it is uncertain what such a standard would be, nor how it will be interpreted.

What’s The Takeaway? It remains to be seen whether the NCC’s notice and takedown scheme will be adopted, and whether it will be adopted in its current proposed form. Its provisions offer multiple benefits, as well as some drawbacks, for copyright owners compared to its foreign counterparts. Those with current online copyright enforcement concerns in Nigeria should seek qualified Nigerian counsel.

Protecting Trademarks From Foreign Domain Name Infringement

Co-Authored By Josie Isaacson, Gonzaga University School of Law, J.D. 2015.

As the Internet has arguably become the main venue for global commerce, and as domain name registration becomes even more user-friendly, it comes as no surprise that trademark owners and right holders are facing an ever-increasing battle against foreign domain name infringement.

Facebook recently faced and effectively overcame this problem. A U.S. representative of the Ghana-based social networking website Ghana Nation, registered a similar domain to Facebook’s name (facebookghana.com). When Internet users accessed the website utilizing the domain, they were redirected to Ghana Nation’s website. After failed attempts to privately acquire the domain, Facebook filed a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) arbitration complaint against the registrant at the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center.

In this UDRP arbitration proceeding (Facebook Inc. v Host, Case No. D2015-1057 (WIPO Aug. 14, 2015), Facebook provided conclusive evidence of their rights to the domain name and that bad faith use of the domain occurred. This included: (a) evidence of the well-known recognition of the FACEBOOK trademark around the world; (b) registration of the FACEBOOK trademark in multiple countries, including the United States, the European Union and Ghana; (c) evidence of the ownership of several Facebook-related domains across multiple top-level domains (e.g., facebook.biz and facebook.org) and multiple top-level country extensions (e.g., facebook.us and facebook.eu); (d) evidence that the registrant had no affiliation with Facebook; and (e) evidence showing that the registrant used the domain to take Internet users to a competing social media platform. Based on this evidence, the WIPO Administrative Panel warranted a transfer of the domain from the registrant to Facebook.

As Facebook’s recent cross-border domain name dispute illustrates, trademark owners or rights holders need to take important measures to protect themselves against foreign domain name infringement. However, before digging into what steps they can take to protect themselves against such acts, it is important to first understand how domain infringement occurs and the available enforcement tools to protecting trademarks from foreign domain name infringement.

How Does Domain Name Infringement Occur?

Unlike other forms of trademark infringement, domain name infringement, whether in a domestic or foreign context, occurs in three specific ways: cyber-squatting, typo-squatting, and domain name confusion.

Cyber-Squatting

Cyber-squatting is where a person or entity registers a domain of a famous or already existing trademark before the actual trademark owner or rights holder is able to register that particular domain. The registrant (squatter) does this usually in an attempt to sell the domain (or extort) t0 the trademark owner when the owner eventually wants to use or acquire rights to the domain, or when the squatter’s use of the domain leads to divergent Internet traffic towards the squatter’s domain website. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) faced foreign-based cyber-squatting in 2000, when a U.S. entity who had a history of buying up confusingly similar domains to known company names and brands (e.g. www.chasevisa.com and www.yahow.com) registered the domain www.bbcnews.com before the BBC had the chance to acquire the domain.

BBC brought a WIPO UDRP proceeding against the registrant that same year (British Broad. Corp. v. Data Art Corp., Case No. D2000-0683, WIPO Sept. 20, 2000). Despite the fact that BBC did not register the domain first, BBC’s extensive worldwide use of the BBC NEWS trademark for decades firmly established BBC’s trademark rights to BBC NEWS. Further, the fact that the registrant purchased the domain long after BBC had been using the BBC NEWS mark worldwide, and as the registrant had a history of purchasing domains that were confusingly similar to well-known trademarks, the WIPO Administrative Panel was able to establish that the registrant had no legitimate interest to the domain, granting its transfer to BBC.

Typo-Squatting

Typo-squatting is where a registrant registers a very similar or misspelled version of a famous or already existing trademark, preying on the common mistakes Internet users make when typing a domain name address. Microsoft has combatted foreign typo-squatters multiple times, including their 2004 WIPO UDRP proceeding against a U.K.-based squatter over the domain micorosft.com (Microsoft Corp. v. Macafee, Case No. D2004-0027, WIPO Mar. 1, 2004). As in Facebook and BBC’s proceedings, Microsoft was able to establish their rights to the MICROSOFT trademark through trademark registrations in multiple countries, domain name registrations including MICROSOFT across multiple top-level domains, and the registrant’s history of registering confusingly similar domains similar to existing brands. As such, Microsoft prevailed over the domain registrant and won rights to the domain name.

Domain Name Confusion

Domain name confusion can occur when two entities have the same name or when a parody site registers a famous mark as a domain name before the actual famous person or entity can register it. Although not cross-border focused, a good example of such confusion is the U.S. case of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. (PETA) v. Doughney, 113 F. Supp. 2d 915 (E.D. Va. 2000), where the actual PETA organization brought suit against a parodist registrant who operated the website “People Eating Tasty Animals.” The registrant lost on parody grounds, and the domain was transferred to PETA, because the PETA trademark was used in the domain name and the parodist page did not simultaneously appear to Internet users–meaning Internet users would be confused between the domain names of PETA and parodist.

How Do You Combat Foreign Domain Name Infringement?

Now that you know how domain name infringement occurs, it is important to now look at what steps a trademark owner can take to prevent such acts.

Pre-Litigation Enforcement

Prior to taking more formal resolution procedures, such as initiating a UDRP arbitration or legal proceeding, a trademark owner can send a simple demand letter to prompt a domain registrant to transfer a similar or confusing domain to the trademark owner. A formal settlement agreement can help to ensure the transfer of a domain to the business or trademark owner if the registrant consents to the transfer. However, if the registrant refuses to transfer the domain, the trademark owner would need to proceed with more formal domain name dispute resolutions, as provided below.

UDRP Arbitration

The UDRP is the main dispute settlement tool to combat foreign domain name infringers by facilitating a streamlined, multi-jurisdictional, and often less expensive dispute resolution process. It was adopted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN; a non-profit corporation that manages the Internet’s domain name system), as a way to simplify domain name disputes, by creating one set of rules that every domain registrant must follow. UDRP arbitration can be sought by a trademark owner or rights holder through WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center (as shown in cases above) or the National Arbitration Forum. The benefits of the UDRP are that it offers a speedier and cheaper option to obtain dispute resolution over a domain, through streamlined evidentiary and procedural processes, with the flexibility of allowing a trademark owner or rights holder to seek enforcement through national legal systems.

However, the UDRP has potential downsides as well. The only remedy available from a UDRP proceeding is either the transfer or cancellation of the disputed domain name, disallowing the recovery of damages. Further, as a UDRP panel does not have to follow strict precedent and has a relatively less-defined evidentiary standard, the UDRP arguably has more unpredictable outcomes than litigation. Lastly, as the parties to a UDRP proceeding can always seek litigation, a UDRP arbitration proceeding may be a non-permanent dispute resolution measure.

So if you choose a UDRP proceeding, what must a trademark owner or rights holder prove to have an infringing domain name transferred or cancelled? According to URDP Rule 3(b)(ix), a successful UDRP complaint must establish three primary elements including that:

  1. The registrant’s domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the trademark owner has rights;
  2. The registrant’s has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
  3. The registrant’s domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

While these elements seem straightforward, trademark owners and rights holders should work with a qualified attorney to evaluate the merits of their case prior to initiating a UDRP proceeding.

Litigation

The final alternative in combatting domain name infringement is litigation. The upsides to litigation include the availability of damage recovery and formal precedent and procedural rules of evidence. The downsides are increased legal costs, longer proceedings, and often jurisdictional issues, especially for cross-border domain disputes. Like UDRP proceedings, trademark owners and rights holders should work with a qualified attorney to evaluate the merits of their case prior to initiating a legal proceeding.

How Do You Prevent Foreign Domain Name Trademark Infringement?

Before seeking these identified enforcement procedures, there are a number of measures a right holder can take to ensure favorable outcomes to any foreign domain name dispute. These include trademark prosecution, domain name registration, and domain name monitoring.

Trademark Prosecution

The most important way to prevent foreign domain name trademark infringement is to first acquire trademark rights to the domain name in question. Regardless of the country, trademark registration (aka prosecution) is the most effective way to establish trademark rights as it grants the greatest amount of rights possible to a trademark under a country’s laws, and a presumption of exclusive ownership to a trademark in that country. While it is impossible to know what country (or countries) a potential infringing domain registrant will be located, a trademark owner wishing to prevent foreign domain name trademark infringement should consider trademark prosecution in the countries they offer their goods and services. Beyond a prudent means to protect trademark rights, proof of prior trademark registrations in multiple countries strengthens any domain name infringement case against a domain registrant. As in Facebook’s UDRP action, Facebook was able to establish its rights to the facebookghana.com domain based on its prior trademark registrations for FACEBOOK in Ghana and the United States, where the registrant and their principal was based, as well as other major markets such as the E.U. As with any means of trademark protection, trademark prosecution is an essential protection tool.

Register Domains Early and For All Variations

Registering a trademark as a domain early, including in any popular top-level and country designations, can help to eliminate foreign domain name infringement. In Facebook’s dispute above, early registration of the Facebook trademark in various top-level domains and multiple country designations helped to show that consumers would be confused as to a false connection between Facebook and the infringing domain facebookghana.com. Registering domain names early and across popular top-level and country designations establishes priority in the use of the domain names and starts the growth of an online user base accessing the domains.

In addition to registering domains with the exact trademark, it is also good to consider registering domain names with similar misspellings. Such as with Microsoft, typo-squatters will prey on consumers who incorrectly type a company name like Micorosft. Microsoft’s registering misspelled versions of their name may have prevented their 2004 domain dispute from ever happening.

Domain Name Monitoring

As trademark monitoring services help to detect general trademark infringers, domain monitoring services can help to catch infringing domain registrants. Several service providers offer domain monitoring services, constantly searching for confusing and similar domain name registrations in addition to providing alerts to changes in ownership to specific domains. Such monitoring can help to detect domestic and foreign domain name trademark infringement, as well as help trademark owners strategize the acquisition of domains.

What’s the Takeaway?

In the end, robust trademark prosecution, domain registration, and domain monitoring can help to reduce foreign domain name infringement. If a trademark owner or rights holder does confront a infringing registrant, swift action should be taken to protect trademark interests, including pre-action enforcement, and possible UDRP arbitration or legal action if needed. While most trademark owners do not have Facebook’s resources to fight foreign domain name trademark infringement, most owners can take prudent measures to prevail against foreign domain infringement if the correct steps are taken to secure and enforce domain name and trademark registrations worldwide.

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.

A Great Honor in the Trade-Related Twitter World

Today I was recognized by one of my favorite trade and export-related blogs, Shipping SolutionsInternational Trade Blog, as being an Export Thought Leader on Twitter. I was flattered to be listed among other persons and organizations I highly admire in the export world, including Becky Park DeStigter (@IntlEntreprenr), The International Trade Administration (@TradeGov), U.S. Customs & Border Protection (@CustomsBorder), and other distinguished people and organizations.

A link to the blog article can be found here.

Thank you Shipping Solutions for the recognition. It is truly an honor!

A Breakdown of Russia’s New Notice and Takedown Legislation

Last month, Russia formally adopted multiple online copyright enforcement reforms to its Anti-Piracy Laws (Federal Law No. 364-FZ; “Reforms”). Including in these Reforms were streamlined Internet Service Provider (ISP) injunction procedures, the establishment of a digital fingerprinting system to allow for the online identification of copyright protected works, and the establishment of Russia’s first statutory notice and takedown procedures—allowing qualifying persons or entities who have rights to copyright-protected work(s) (collectively, “Rights Holders”) the ability to extrajudicially petition Russian-based website owners, and eventually their ISPs, to remove infringing hosted content.

On its face, Russia’s new notice and takedown procedures provide qualifying Rights Holders a highly needed extrajudicial enforcement tool to fight online copyright infringement in one of the world’s most infringing online markets. In April 2015, Russia was listed on the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Priority Watch List in the USTR’s 2015 Special 301 Report, identifying countries who do not provide adequate protection for intellectual property. The 2015 301 Report cited Russia for having “persistent” online copyright piracy problems, as well as being the home of several piracy websites that “damage both the market for legitimate content in Russia as well as in other countries.”

While Russia’s new notice and takedown procedures in many ways mirror similar procedures in other jurisdictions, there are some important differences Rights Holders should be aware of concerning the new procedures. To understand these differences, it is important to first look at the actual notification procedures.

Procedures: Based on an unofficial translation of the Reforms, a Rights Holder must provide the operator of an infringing Russian-based website notification of an alleged infringement including:

  • Name of the legal owner or authorized agent of the copyright protected work(s), including their location, address, passport information, telephone number, fax number, and email address;
  • If an authorized agent, provide an attestation as to his or her representation of the owner(s) of the copyright-protected work(s);
  • Identification of the copyright protected work(s);
  • Identification of the domain name(s), network address(es), and other identifying information of the infringing website in question;
  • Consent to use personal information included in the notification; and
  • The Rights Holder’s claim that the copyright-protected work(s) and being used on the identified website(s) without the owner’s of the work(s) permission or any valid legal grounds.

Within 24 hours of receipt of a Rights Holder’s notification, the website’s operator will need to either:

  • Request additional information from the Rights Holder concerning their notification;
  • Remove the allegedly infringing content; or
  • Provide proof that the website operator is authorized to use the allegedly infringing content.

If the website operator does not restrict access to the allegedly infringing content within 24 hours after receiving the Rights Holder’s notice, the website’s ISP will have three days to block access to that website. If the ISP restricts access to the website in question, the ISP must notify Russia’s telecommunication agency (Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor)) of the incident, and such data will be placed in a infringement registry.

Ok, now that we know the procedures, what are the main takeaway points?

Additional Steps May Be Needed: Unlike most national notice and takedown procedure systems, notices under Reforms are to be sent to website operators prior to sending to the website’s ISP. While a website operators and ISP can often be one and the same, e.g. Facebook or Google, Russia’s notice and takedown procedures may require submitting an additional notice to an ISP if a website operator fails to remove infringing content identified by a Rights Holder in a notice under the procedures.

Qualifying Content: Prior to passage of the Reforms, the Anti-Piracy Laws only covered “movies, including movies, TV films”, thereby excluding many other works normally qualifying for copyright protection in Russia and other countries. The Reforms expands qualifying works to “objects of copyright and (or) related rights (except photographic works and works obtained by processes similar to photography.” While these changes expand protection under the Anti-Piracy Laws beyond solely movies to songs, written works and other normally copyright-protected works, it expressly excludes “photographic works.” Excluding photographic works from protection under the new notice and takedown procedures means Rights Holders of such works would need to seek a judicial order to remove infringe content hosted by a Russian-based website, subjecting such Rights Holders to potentially substantial enforcement delays and costs.

Prosecution Requirements: Like the U.S., Russia does not require prosecution (registration) of copyright-protected works in order to utilize the Anti-Piracy Laws’ new notice and takedown procedures.

Country-Specific Restrictions: Although not identified in the Reforms, notifications sent through the Anti-Piracy Laws’ new notice and takedown procedures will likely need to be sent in Russian. Further, to ensure compliance, foreign Rights Holders will likely need to work with qualified Russian counsel to effectively utilize the new notice and takedown procedures. This can have additional costs and time delays for foreign Rights Holders.

What’s The Takeaway? Absent prior statutory provisions, the Reforms’ notice and takedown procedures do provide Rights Holders greater means to protect their works online in Russia. However, due to limitations on qualifying works, and additional and country-specific procedures beyond similar notice and takedown procedures in other countries, it remains to be seen whether Russia’s statutory notice and takedown procedures will become an effective extrajudicial enforcement tool against cross-border online copyright infringement.

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.

Online Copyright and Trademark Enforcement Seminar

Wanted to let you all know that I will be speaking on cross-border online copyright and trademark enforcement at a Washington State Bar Association – International Practice Section seminar on January 20, 2015 at Noon at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in Seattle, Washington.

Titled Online Copyright and Trademark Enforcement in the U.S. and Abroad, the seminar will cover issues in obtaining cross-border protection for copyrighted works and trademarks, understanding copyright and trademark enforcement systems in the U.S. and other jurisdictions, and using copyright and trademark enforcement measures on major online social media and retail sites such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Baidu and others.

Further information on attending the seminar can be found here.

Hope you can make it. It should be fun!

Part IV: Enforcing Online Copyright Protection Abroad: North and Central America

I come back to you again with part IV of my plan to cover online copyright enforcement procedures throughout the world—this time North and Central America. Although several Central American countries agreed to adopt notice and takedown procedures under the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA; U.S., Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua), such countries are at varying levels of adopting such provisions.

Determining whether owners or rights holders of a copyright-protected work (collectively, “Rights Holders”) can enforce rights in their work online and abroad depends on multiple factors. This includes: (1) whether a work qualifies for foreign protection (aka national treatment) under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention) and/or the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS); (2) whether the Internet service provider (ISP) hosting the infringing use of the work is subject to jurisdiction in the country where online enforcement is sought; and (3) what online copyright enforcement procedures are available in the country of enforcement.

Each of these issues have been previously examined here and those with further questions should consult with a qualified attorney.

Below are the current online copyright enforcement procedures in each North and Central American country. However, a couple of preliminary notes:

Classifications: A North and Central American country that maintains legal protocols for a Rights Holder to directly petition an ISP to remove infringing content in order for the ISP to qualify for safe harbor protection from contributory liability for copyright infringement is identified below as a “Notice and Takedown System” country. A country that maintain systems that simply require ISPs to notify infringing subscribers of their allegedly infringing acts without removal requirements for safe harbor protection are identified as a “Notice and Notice System” country. A country that does not provide legal provisions for a Rights Holder to directly enforce their copyright protections through an ISP notification system, and are instead forced to seek copyright enforcement through that country’s judicial system are referred to as a “Judicial System” country.

Notice Limitations: Unfortunately, even if a country listed below maintains a Notice and Takedown System, an ISP may still refuse to disable access to an allegedly infringing website or website content upon receipt of a Rights Holder’s infringement notice. In such instances, a Rights Holder may be forced to seek enforcement through that foreign country’s legal system in order to remove such online content.

Time Sensitivity: As several of the listed countries in this posting are evaluating or are in the process of implementing copyright reforms, either through legislation or judicial action, there is the possibility that the following online copyright enforcement information may soon change.

United States

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act establishes the notice and takedown procedure for a Rights Holder to inform ISPs of infringing content. Once a ISP has received a Rights Holder’s notice, an ISP has to prevent access to such infringing content in order to qualify for safe harbor protection from contributory copyright infringement. The U.S. has pushed for such  requirements to be implemented in a number of countries to whom its has concluded free trade agreements (FTAs) including Australia, Colombia, Peru, DR-CAFTA, and others.

Governing Legislation: Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A))

Notice Requirements:

-Identification of the copyrighted work(s) claimed to have been infringed;
-Identification of the online 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);
-Information reasonably sufficient to permit the ISP to contact the Rights Holder (address, telephone number, e-mail, etc.);
-A statement that the Rights Holder has a good faith belief that the use of their content in the identified online material is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
-A statement that the information provided in the notice is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the Rights Holder is authorized to act on behalf of the Rights Holder of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed; and
-A Rights Holder’s physical or electronic signature.

Belize

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Belize 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 – Cap. 252

Notice Requirements: N/A

Canada

Enforcement System: Notice and Notice System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Canada adopted the Copyright Modernization Act in June 2012, which included a formal notice and notice system. Although the adoption of such a system provides some means for Rights Holders to directly enforce rights in their works, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) had questioned whether Canada’s notice and notice system provides sufficient legal incentives for Canada-based ISPs to removing infringing content upon request, and ultimately whether it is an effective means for Rights Holders to directly enforce rights in their works.

It is important to note that Canada may soon be required to implement notice and takedown provisions if the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is finalized and the U.S. draft chapter is adopted in a final TPP agreement.

Governing Legislation: Section 41.25-41.27, Copyright Modernization ActCopyright Act.

Notice Requirements:

-Must be in writing;
-The Rights Holder’s name, address and other relevant communication information;
-Identify the work or other subject-matter to which the claimed infringement relates;
-State the Rights Holder’s interest or right to the work or other subject-matter;
-Specify the online location where the claimed infringement occurs;
-Specify the claimed infringement;
-Specify the date and time of the claimed infringement; and
-Provide any other information or as provided by other Canadian regulations.

Costa Rica

Enforcement System: Notice and Notice System (Minimal)

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Costa Rica is a DR-CAFTA signatory country, yet it has not fully adopted notice and takedown provisions as provided under Ch. 15, Section 15.11.27(ix) of the agreement. In 2011, Costa Rica adopt notice and notice provisions in Decree No. 36,880 COMEX-JP. However, the IIPA has criticized these legislative reforms as the Decree only mandates that an ISP notify an infringing subscriber of their alleged infringing act upon notice from a Rights Holder, and that such notification only needs to be communicated to the subscriber in question within 45 days of a Rights Holder’s notification to an ISP.

Governing Legislation: Law No. 8863 on Copyright and Related Rights, Decree No. 36,880 COMEX-JP

Notice Requirements (derived from an unofficial translation):

-Expressly and accurately identify the rights allegedly infringed;
-Provide an in-country address or location to receive notifications concerning the notice;
-Identify the infringing material and its online location; and
-Provide other accurate and timely information to enable the ISP to fully identify the subscriber or supplier of the allegedly infringing material.

El Salvador

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: El Salvador is a DR-CAFTA signatory country, mandating that it adopt notice and takedown provisions detailed under Ch. 15, Section 15.11.27(ix) of the agreement. In 2005, El Salvador passed copyright legislative reforms under Legislative Decree No. 912 that included the adoption of notice and takedown provisions, granting ISPs safe harbor for contributory liability for copyright infringement by acting on a notice of alleged infringement from Rights Holders. However, Decree No. 912 provided no specific notice requirements.

Governing Legislation: Law on the Promotion and Protection of Intellectual Property Rights as amended by Legislative Decree No. 912

Notice Requirements: Unspecified

Guatemala

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Guatemala is a DR-CAFTA signatory country, mandating that it adopt notice and takedown provisions detailed under Ch. 15, Section 15.11.27(ix) of the agreement. However, Guatemala has not passed any legislative reforms to adopt notice and takedown provisions, and it does not currently appear to provide any express legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notification from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Law on Copyright and Related Rights and Regulations Under the Law on Copyrights and Related Rights

Notice Requirements: N/A

Honduras

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Honduras is a DR-CAFTA signatory country, mandating that it adopt notice and takedown provisions detailed under Ch. 15, Section 15.11.27(ix) of the agreement. However, Honduras has not passed any legislative reforms to adopt notice and takedown provisions, and it does not currently appear to provide any express legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notification from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright and Neighboring Rights Law

Notice requirements: N/A

Mexico

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

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

However, Mexico may soon be required to implement notice and takedown provisions or notice and notice provisions if the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is finalized and it includes such provisions as has been proposed.

Governing Legislation: Federal Law on Copyright

Notice Requirements: N/A

Nicaragua

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Nicaragua is a DR-CAFTA signatory country, obligating that it adopt notice and takedown provisions mandated under Ch. 15, Section 15.11.27(ix) of the agreement. However, Nicaragua has not passed any legislative reforms to adopt notice and takedown provisions, and it does not currently appear to provide any express legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notification from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Law of Copyright and Neighboring Rights, Law on Amendments and Additions to Law of Copyright and Neighboring Rights (Law No. 577 of 2006)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Panama

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Panama ratified a FTA with the U.S. (U.S.-Panama FTA) that mandated under Ch. 15.11, Article 15.11, Section 27(a) of the agreement that Panama adopt “legal incentives for service providers to cooperate with copyright owners in deterring the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyrighted materials.” However, Panama does not appear to have adopted any such “incentives” through a notice and takedown system or a notice and notice system.

Governing Legislation: Law No. 64 on Copyright and Neighboring Rights

Notice Requirements: N/A

Parting Notes: As I have mentioned in previous posts, it is important to note that there are issues to consider after a takedown notice has been submitted. First, an alleged infringer may respond to a Rights Holder notification by submitting a counter notice attesting to their rights in a protected work, even after their online content or website has been blocked or removed. Also, an ISP may refuse to act after a takedown notice has been submitted. If these circumstances arise, one should consider contacting a qualified attorney to discuss further actions. Good luck!

Special thanks to Sara Parker, recent Seattle University School of Law graduate and new member of the Washington State Bar for her assistance.