It was reported in several news outlets this week that Singapore’s Ministry of Law and Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) are commencing a public consultation concerning reforms to Singapore’s Copyright Act. As detailed in a Consultation Paper released by both agencies, the consultation intends to obtain public feedback concerning multiple proposed reforms to the Copyright Act that will have a direct impact on rights holders and interested parties in Singapore and abroad including the establishment of a voluntary copyright registration system, expansion of copyright fair use exceptions and allowable technological protection measures, amending rights of attribution requirements, as well as several others.
The consultation will run from August 23, 2016 to October, 24 2016 and rights holders, impacted businesses, as well as the general public, are encouraged to submit feedback via designated online forms available here.
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.
In November, Wikileaks leaked positions papers from the 18th round of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations concerning the intellectual property (IP) chapter of the TPP agreement. The papers including positions held by TTP member states (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam) on all forms of IP protections they will provide to IP rights owners and rights holders from their countries, and in many cases, from abroad under a final TPP agreement. Several IP news outlets have provided good analyses of the position papers including The IPKat and InfoJustice, among others.
These position papers also provide updated positions TPP member states have on online copyright enforcement, and particular, the positions each country has on adopting notice and takedown online copyright enforcement systems. In order to provide an update on my October article on the TPP’s implications on online copyright enforcement, the following are positions TPP member states have adopted in the position papers on crucial issues concerning online copyright enforcement under the TPP.
Article QQ.G.1 of the position papers propose that authors of works and producers of phonographic works will have exclusive rights concerning the reproduction of their works in any manner, including any temporary or permanent electronic reproductions and storage. Canada, New Zealand and Vietnam object to such proposed protections. Additionally, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Japan, New Zealand and Malaysia suggest in a footnote to the Article (“Article QQ.G.1 Footnote”) that exceptions and limitations to such exclusive rights should be established for:
Temporary acts of reproduction which are transient or incidental and an integral and essential part of a technological process and whose sole purpose is to enable (a) a lawful transmission in a network between third parties by an intermediary; or (b) a lawful use of a work; and which have no independent economic significance.
Alternatively, Vietnam proposes that “it shall be a matter for national legislation [of a TPP member state] to determine exceptions and limitations under which the right may be exercised.”
What’s Does This Mean? Providing authors of works and producers of phonographic works exclusive rights to all reproductions of their works, including electronic reproductions for any duration, gives such persons or entities greater direct ability to enforce rights in their works online because Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would ultimately have less discretion to reject notice complaints. As several commentators have mentioned, the text of Article QQ.G.1 effective eliminates fair use copyright exceptions provided under U.S. copyright law and the copyright laws of other TPP member states such as Japan. By doing so, TPP member state ISPs will have greater incentive to act on any copyright infringement on their networks, including alleged infringement notified through rights owner/holder notices, due to the likely elimination of the ISPs’ own fair use defense to contributory copyright infringement for hosting unauthorized reproductions of protected work. Although notice and takedown and notice and notice systems were adopted in TPP member states to provide ISPs safe harbor from such liability upon complying with submitted notices, many ISPs in practice do not act on such notices, by determining that their users’ unauthorized reproduction of copyright-protected works on their networks is fair use, and therefore permissible. Adoption of Article QQ.G.1 would effectively force ISPs to remove allegedly infringing content or face contributory liability for the copyright infringement of their users.
However, if TPP member states ultimately adopt the Article QQ.G.1 Footnote or Vietnam’s proposal, it is likely that they will be given the option to retain any fair use exceptions provided under their own national laws, potentially impacting the degree to which TPP member state ISPs will feel compelled to act on rights owners/holders notifications of alleged infringement.
The TPP member states have divergent positions on the liability ISPs should be subject to for hosting content that infringes copyright-protected works. Article QQ.I.1 provides that the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Peru and Singapore propose (while Malaysia and Vietnam oppose) that each TPP member state provide “legal incentives for [ISPs] to cooperate with copyright owners in deterring the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyrighted materials.” Similarly, Canada proposes that each TPP member state “provide legal incentives for [ISPs] to comply, or remedies against [ISPs] who fail to comply, with any procedures established in each party’s law for: (a) effective notifications of claimed infringement; or (b) removing or disabling access to infringing material residing on its networks.”
What Does This Mean? The U.S. and Canada’s Article QQ.I.1 proposals likely leave mandating the adoption of notice and takedown systems in all TPP member states in doubt. The U.S. Article QQ.I.1 proposal provides the same ambiguous text as the February 2011 U.S. Draft IP Chapter, and the Canadian proposal goes so far as leaving the type of ISP legal incentive system each TPP member state should adopt up to its own discretion. As a result, both proposals would likely make the adoption of notice and takedown systems in TPP member states optional. For example, less forceful online enforcement systems, such as Canada’s notice and notice system provides legal incentives for ISPs to coordinate with copyright owners despite lacking the forceful effectiveness of notice and takedown systems currently available in other TPP member states such as U.S., Australia and Japan.
Despite the limitations of such proposals, mandating that TPP member states adopt some form of legal incentives for ISPs to enforce online copyright protections may likely compel TPP member states without any rights owner/holder notification systems, including Brunei Darussalam, Mexico and Vietnam, to adopt some form of rights owner/holder ISP notification system.
Notice and Takedown Procedures
The U.S., Australia, and Singapore propose in Annex to Article QQ.I.1.3(b)(ix) (while Canada, Malaysia and Mexico reject) adopting notice and takedown procedures as the “legal incentives” identified in Article QQ.I.1. These procedures closely resembles notice and takedown procedures provided under U.S., Australian, and Singaporean law. As a part of these procedures, copyright owners and/or rights holders whose works qualify for copyright protection in a TPP member state would have to submit a notice to an ISP that provides the following information in order to have the ISP examine and remove the infringing content in question:
- The identity, address, telephone number, and electronic mail address of the complaining party (or its authorized agent);
- Information reasonably sufficient to permit the ISP to identify and locate the material residing on a system or network controlled or operated by it or for it that is claimed to be infringing, or to be the subject of infringing activity, and that is to be removed or disabled;
- Information reasonably sufficient to enable the ISP to identify the copyrighted work(s) claimed to have been infringed;
- A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
- A statement that the information in the notice is accurate;
- A statement with sufficient indicia of reliability that the complaining party is the (U.S. propose “holder”) (Australia and Singapore propose “owner”) of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed, or is authorized to act on the owner’s behalf; and
- The signature of the person giving notice.
What Does This Mean? If a final TTP Agreement mandates that TPP member states adopt a notice and takedown system, implementing Annex to Article QQ.I.1.3(b)(ix) would effectively require TPP member states to adopt similar notice and takedown procedures provided under U.S., Australian, Japanese and Singaporean law. Yet, opposition from Canada, Malaysia and Mexico may make the adoption of such requirements more unlikely.
Additionally, as Australia and Singapore propose that the “owner” of the alleged infringed copyright work be the “complaining party” listed in a notice, it is unknown whether an adopted TPP notice and takedown system would allow licensees of copyright-protected works (the “holders”) to utilize notice and takedown procedures in TPP member states. Limiting such a system’s accessibility to copyright owners only may be overly burdensome for such owners, as it would force them to enforce protections in their works on behalf of their licensees.
What’s The Takeaway?
If the U.S.-backed proposals listed above are enacted in a final TPP Agreement, copyright owners and rights holders from TPP member states, and other countries, will qualify for greater online copyright enforcement protections in TPP member states. However, such proposals have multiple obstacles before being effectively implemented. Such proposals must be included in a final TPP agreement, fully implemented as legislation in each TPP member state, and effectively upheld in each TPP member state’s legal system. Time will tell whether such enhanced online copyright enforcement protections will be adopted in the final TPP Agreement and enacted in all TPP member states.
 See Sean Flynn, Margot Kaminski, Brook Baker, & Jimmy Koo, Public Interest Analysis of the US TPP Proposal for an IP Chapter, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, American University Washington College of Law, Dec. 6, 2011, 13, available at http://infojustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/TPP-Analysis-12062011.pdf (Analysis of the TPP’s fair use exception elimination was based on the U.S.’ leaked IP chapter proposal from Feb. 2011).
 Cartoon Network LP, LLLP v. CSC Holdings, Inc., 536 F.3d 121, 140 (2d Cir. 2008). See Saiful Bakri Abdul Aziz, An Assessment of Fair Dealing in Malaysian Copyright Law in Comparison with the Limitation Provisions of Japanese Copyright Law – Within the Current Technology Background, 41 Hosei Riron J. of L. & Pol. 298, 300, 305 (2009), available at http://dspace.lib.niigata-u.ac.jp:8080/dspace/bitstream/10191/12583/1/41(3.4)_298-327.pdf.