Tagged: #fta

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.

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.