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September 15 2012

Chile: 10 Things That Shouldn't be Prohibited Due to Copyright

Note: Article [es] by Derechos Digitales originally published in Spanish, translated by Silvia Viñas.

In the digital world, where the barriers to access information, knowledge, and culture have been significantly reduced, intellectual property protections can become an obstacle for freedom of expression (as we explained here [es, en], and saw, for example, in the testimony of Ciudadano Inteligente [es, en]).

In this new infographic [es] we want to be explicit and show you 10 common things we do on the Internet that should not be prohibited by intellectual property protections. The problem is that, although it might seem absurd, many of these things are common targets for hundreds of particular interests in the copyright industry.

Know your rights, use them and defend them. This way, you are also defending the Internet. #NoTemasaInternet [es] (Don't Fear the Internet)

You can expand the infographic here [es].

Note: See English translation below graphic:

10 things that shouldn’t be prohibited in the digital world due to copyright (but that some still try to prohibit.)

Freedom of expression and the Internet go hand-in-hand. However, there are times when copyright, rather than encourage this freedom, works as a barrier to creativity.

Access to scientific magazines increases each year at a rate greater than inflation. In May 2012, Harvard University reported that its libraries spend over 3 million dollars each year on serial publications.

Industry representatives have pointed out [es] that “The telecommunication industry has obtained huge profits thanks to broadband. Their only justification is the transferring of music, video, and images.”

Currently, our copyright laws prevent private copies for non-commercial purposes, leaving us vulnerable to being accused of committing crimes against intellectual property. In countries like the United States, the industry has sued thousands of Internet users who share content through peer-to-peer systems like BitTorrent.

Lawyers in the industry have pointed out in the press [es] that “Indexing or linking to pirated material is cooperation in an act of public communication and is protected by intellectual property rights.” That, by the way, is not effective.

Something that seems clear-cut has generated lawsuits and requests to take down content, like in the case of Stephanie Lenz [es] in the United States, who filmed her son dancing to a song by Prince and posted the video on YouTube. The video-sharing platform removed Lenz's video when the copyright owner (Universal Music Publishing Group) claimed that this was violation of copyright. Lenz has challenged the claim in court.

Large companies don’t have a very good sense of humor, and they sometimes try to take legal actions when citizens and organizations criticise them. For example, Equifax, the company that owns Dicom, has presented a series of completely unfounded legal actions against the team that is producing the movie “I’m in Dicom.” [es]

Today, with the Internet and digital technology, a big part of creativity is born out of the modification of already existing works. In many cases, the industry has sued authors for remixing songs or creating parodies and satires of other works of art, forgetting that “Everything is a remix.”

[Works in the public domain] are not protected by copyright, so they can be copied, modified, and even sold freely. However, many websites are not rigorous [in evaluating the copyright status of works] and imply [es] that “all rights are reserved” over these works.

There are cultural works that are protected by copyright, but it is impossible to obtain authorization to use them because the authors are unknown or can’t be found. These works are called “orphan works” and in Chile there is no exception that permits the use of these type of works.

The dominant discourse says that EVERYTHING is protected by copyright such that sometimes we forget that there is a big free culture and free software movement. Even universities [es] forget.

Infographic under Creative Commons License CC-BY

September 07 2012

Chile: “Don't Fear the Internet,” the Case of Ciudadano Inteligente

Note: Article [es] by Derechos Digitales originally published in Spanish, translated by Silvia Viñas.

Public information in Chile is protected by copyright. This marks at least two fundamental truths: first, there is a major barrier to accessing data produced by the state; and second, there is little or nothing you can do with that data, due to the well-known “all rights reserved” limitation. This calls into question the public nature of such data.

These intellectual property rights that protect information produced by the state are absurd not only because citizens can’t access public information, but also because in a digital context they hinder initiatives related to transparency and control of the work of public entities.

An emblematic case that reflects the latter problem is evident in the following testimony by the Ciudadano Inteligente [Intelligent Citizen] foundation. With initiatives that push for transparency in public institutions in Chile, Ciudadano Inteligente is always facing the dilemma of what right should prevail over the other: the state's intellectual property rights over the data, or the citizens' right to access public information. As you can see in the video below, for Ciudadano Inteligente the answer is clear and encouraging: #NoTemasaInternet (Don't fear the Internet).

Sponsored post

August 28 2012

Colombia: CELE Analyzes Constitutionality of Bill Lleras 2.0

On August 7, 2012, iLEI (Spanish acronym for Initiative for Freedom on Expression on the Internet), a special program of the Center for Studies in Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (CELE) at Argentina's University of Palermo, submitted an amicus curiae request to the Constitutional Court of Colombia as part of the revision process for the law known as “Ley Lleras 2.0″ (Lleras Law 2.0), or Bill 1520 [es; pdf]. CELE requested to be considered a “friend of court” in order to provide input on discussions around the unconstitutionality of the law that will reform Colombia's copyright regime.

Based on Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the request [es] demonstrates that the protection of online copyright must be balanced with the exercise of freedom of expression.

The request raises four key considerations that might be made when analyzing the constitutionality of any copyright law on the Internet: efficiency and innovation, proportionality, fair use and chilling effects.

In arguments for protecting copyright, encouragement of innovation and retribution for authors have historically been focal points. In their request, CELE argues that while protections must not be abolished, it is imperative today, in the “digital era,” to re-think these protections, particularly in a context where creative works are mainly information (a non-rival and non-exclusive good).

On the subject of proportionality, the document notes that the protection of copyright on the Internet must be weighed against the negative impact it could have for exercising one's right to freedom of expression. This proves especially important in light of Article 13 of the American Convention of Human Rights, which bans any action that might result in censorship of content prior to its publication. The document highlights that Bill 1520 “has various rules with applications that are not proportionate,” and adds that if the priority of the regulation is to stop violations of copyright at all costs “more innocent people will be affected and freedom of expression and due process will be restricted at a higher level.”

As for fair use provisions, the request mentions the need for copyright frameworks to be reasonable and for them to consider “the nature of ordinary online behaviors that do not infringe on the rights of copyright owners;” and, if such behaviors do infringe on copyright, that they are not met with disproportionate measures of protection. This is the case in Article 15, which includes exceptions that don't protect, for instance, those who alter digital rights management (DRM) to allow for the legal use of a content, as this could bring them financial gain, though it would not affect the rights holder.

Finally, the document calls attention to the chilling effects of an imbalanced copyright protection system on fair use. As the amicus notes, this can limit openness in the digital environment and can even lead to self-censorship among citizens. Article 5 of the Lleras Law 2.0 points out that CELE notes that this grants the copyright holder “very broad authority to use their material, as the prohibition of any kind of reproduction or public communication.” This approach, the request reads, “seems to ignore dynamics that are inherent to the online activity that, we insist, don't seem to affect rights-holder interests. And if in addition to this authority we employ too narrow a definition for fair use –as specifically stipulated on Article 13– we will be faced with a series of conditions that may limit free expression on the Internet.”

In short, all of these are aspects that, beyond the Colombian case, might apply when discussing any legal framework on copyright. The key element, as stated on the document, is to consider these regulations through the Interamerican System of Human Rights, in order to avoid generating “unbalanced” norms between intellectual property and fundamental rights, such as free expression and access to culture.

The document submitted to the Constitutional Court has been signed by Eduardo Bertoni, Director of CELE and former Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Organization of American States –OAS- and by Carlos Cortés Castillo, researcher with iLEI.

Seeking prior art where it most often is found in software

Patent ambushes are on the rise again, and cases such as Apple/Samsung shows that prior art really has to swing the decision–obviousness or novelty is not a strong enough defense. Obviousness and novelty are subjective decisions made by a patent examiner, judge, or jury.

In this context, a recent conversation I had with Keith Bergelt, Chief Executive Officer of the Open Invention Network takes on significance. OIN was formed many years ago to protect the vendors, developers, and users of Linux and related open source software against patent infringement. They do this the way companies prepare a defense: accumulating a portfolio of patents of their own.

According to Bergelt, OIN has spent millions of dollars to purchase patents that uniquely enable Linux and open source and have helped free software vendors and developers understand and prepare to defend against lawsuits. All OIN patents are available under a free license to those who agree to forbear suit on Linux grounds and to cross license their own patents that read on OIN’s Linux System Definition. OIN has nearly 500 licensees and is adding a new one every three days, as everyone from individual developers to large multinationals are coming to recognize its role and the value of an OIN license.

The immediate trigger for our call was an announcement by OIN that they are expanding their Linux System Definition to include key mobile Linux software packages such as Dalvik, which expands the scope of the cross licenses under the OIN license. In this way OIN is increasing the freedom of action under which a company can operate under Linux.

OIN’s expansion of its Linux System Definition affects not only Android, which seems to be in Apple’s sights, but any other mobile distribution based on Linux, such as MeeGo and Tizen. They have been interested in this area for some time, but realize that mobile is skyrocketing in importance.

Meanwhile, they are talking to their supporters about new ways of deep mining for prior art in source code. Patent examiners, as well as developers filing patents in good faith, look mostly at existing patents to find prior art. But in software, most innovation is not patented. It might not even appear in the hundreds of journals and conference proceedings that come out in the computer science field each year. It is abstraction that emerges from code, when analyzed.

A GitHub staffer told me it currently hosts approximately 25 TB of data and adds over 65 GB of new data per day. A lot of that stuff is probably hum-drum, but I bet a fraction of it contains techniques that someone else will try to gain a monopoly over someday through patents.

Naturally, inferring innovative processes from source code is a daunting exercise in machine learning. It’s probably harder than most natural language processing, which tries to infer limited meanings or relationships from words. But OIN feels we have to try. Otherwise more and more patents may impinge (which is different from infringe) on free software.

August 03 2012

Brazil: Congress to vote on “Bill of Rights” for Internet users

The Marco Civil da Internet, a “bill of rights” for Internet users proposed in Brazil, would represent a paramount advance in country's progressive digital policymaking agenda. Officials expect the law will come to a vote on August 8.

Marco Civil da Internet. Cultural Digital, CC: BY-NC-SA

The Marco Civil da Internet [pt] (Civil Regulatory Framework for the Internet) establishes a clear set of rights and responsibilities for users, sets strong net neutrality principles, and shields Internet intermediaries (Internet service providers, hosting platforms, social networking and blogging sites) from liability for illegal content posted by users. Pedro Paranaguá, an Internet policy advisor for Brazil's House of Representatives, has a detailed archive of the law's legislative history on his blog [pt].

Unlike Internet-related laws addressing piracy or copyright infringement, the Marco Civil is not a criminal law, but a civil one. Rather than framing digital policy as a matter of criminal violations, it puts forth a clear set of rights for users and aims to balance these with the interests of online companies and law enforcement. The Marco Civil is also strategically deft in this regard: by establishing user rights and responsibilities forthright, the law aims to guarantee that these interests will be protected if or when laws aiming to address online crime and copyright infringement are introduced in the future.

The Marco Civil is also unique in that it was developed in a highly participatory style. Lawmakers were not the only entities involved in drafting the law–academic experts, civil society groups, and Internet users had a critical role in developing the law's text as well.

Commenting on the process, Internet policy activist and leader of the Mega Nao campaign João Carlos Caribe [pt] writes:

O Marco Civil da Internet foi escrito com a participação da sociedade, e tem fundamentalmente o objetivo de criar bases e limitações para novas leis sobre a Internet, criando uma camada de proteção à sociedade livre e democrática…

The [Marco Civil da Internet] was written with the participation of society…its essential goal is to create exceptions and limitations for new legislation on the Internet, creating a layer of protection for a free and democratic society…

Lawmakers partnered with scholars at Fundacao Getulio Vargas, the country's leading social science research institution, to draft the preliminary text for the law. It was then posted for an open online consultation where all Brazilians were invited to comment and make suggestions for the bill through Cultura Digital, the website of the Ministry of Culture. The process reflected a potent vision for Internet policymaking, one in which all individuals who hold stake in the social and technological power and functioning of the Internet can have a say in how it is governed. Visit Cultura Digital [pt] to see the online forum.

Over the past decade, Brazil has pioneered a digital policymaking approach that many countries have looked to as a model for promoting innovation and openness online. During the administration of Ignacio “Lula” da Silva, Minister of Culture and acclaimed musician Gilberto Gil developed a policy agenda that focused on increasing Internet access and digital education for all Brazilians.

Advocates are urging Brazil's Congress to vote in favor of the Marco Civil, the passage of which would make Brazil a global and regional leader for progressive Internet policy and a model that many countries may look to as they develop their digital agendas.

Netizens in Brazil and around the world can learn more about the Marco Civil by visiting the websites of Brazil-based groups including the Centro da Tecnologia e Sociedade [pt] at FGV; Mega Nao [pt], an online advocacy initiative promoting Internet openness; and MegaSim [pt], a blog that promotes progressive cultural policy for the digital age.

Netizens can directly voice support for the law by signing a petition that grew out of the Olinda Internet Forum, an open conference that preceded Brazil's Internet Governance Forum, or a separate petition at Avaaz. Brazilian citizens can also contact their congressional representatives to voice their support for law.

July 22 2012

Mexico: Congress Resolves to Reject ACTA

On July 18, 2012, both the Senate and House of Representatives in Mexico passed resolutions calling for the country's new President, Enrique Peña Nieto, to nullify Mexico's signature on the ACTA treaty.  Mexico's Ambassador to Japan, Claude Heller, signed the treaty a week prior, despite strong rejections of its terms by Mexico's Senate and the country's telecommunications commission.

ACTA demonstration image by ottodv. CC-BY-SA.



ACTA aims to combat counterfeiting and piracy of intellectual property (copyrighted works, trademarked goods, patented medicines, etc.) by imposing certain restrictions on the use of digital communications technologies which could interfere with users' rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and privacy.

The Senate resolution objected to various terms of the treaty, the process by which it was developed, and the undemocratic nature in which it was signed by Ambassador Heller.

[Algunas] disposiciones del proyecto de Acuerdo resultarían contrarias a garantías individuales contenidas en la Constitución, y se vulneraría el principio de presunción de inocencia; que la ambigüedad de algunas de sus disposiciones resultaría contraria a la seguridad y certeza jurídica; que podría resultar en una limitación a la universalización deseable del acceso a internet y derivar en una censura a los contenidos del mismo.

[C]ertain provisions of the Treaty would contradict individual rights and protections in the Constitution, and would threaten the principle of presumed innocence; the ambiguity of some provisions could threaten security and judicial procedure; it could also generate limitations to the desired universalization of Internet access and could lead to censorship of online content.

The Senate resolution noted objections to ACTA voiced by the Federal Institute of Access to Information and Data Protection (IFAI), the Federal Telecommunications Commission (COFETEL), the Mexican Association for the Internet, and the press freedom organization ARTICLE 19 [es].

Further updates on efforts the ACTA debate Mexico will be posted as events unfold. Click here to read last week's coverage of netizen responses to the event.

July 18 2012

Mexico: The Government Signed ACTA While Mexicans Were Asleep

The Mexican government signed on to ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 in Japan…in the middle of the night in Mexico.

ACTA aims to combat counterfeiting and piracy of intellectual property (copyrighted works, trademarked goods, patented medicines, etc.) by imposing a series of restrictions on the use of digital communications technologies. The agreement includes restrictions on file-sharing, the fair use of copyrighted materials, and a great variety of activities related to freedom of speech and information. The law also affects privacy, as it includes measures to identify users when materials protected under copyright are obtained illegally.

The agreement includes controls to the exchange of archives, the fair use of copyright material, and a great variety of activities related to freedom of speech and information. The law also affects privacy, since it includes measures to identify users in case a copyright or protected intellectual property is obtained illegally.

The agreement has stirred a lot of controversy and indignation in the European Union. Many protests and demonstrations against ACTA had a powerful effect on European lawmakers; days before Mexico signed, the European Union Parliament voted against the agreement. It seems unlikely that any European state will ratify the agreement.

The blog Derecho informático [es] extracted the following summary from the official press release published by the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property:

Este Acuerdo, firmado por el Embajador de México en Japón […] pretende una mejor protección internacional de los derechos de propiedad intelectual de los mexicanos, atraer nuevas inversiones, asegurar las fuentes de trabajo ya existentes e incrementar la creación de empleos formales, así como fomentar la creatividad, la innovación y la competitividad de nuestras empresas.

This Agreement, signed by the Mexican Ambassador to Japan […], aims to improve the international protection of the intellectual property rights of Mexicans, attract new investments, secure existing jobs and increase the creation of more formal jobs, and foster creativity, innovation and competition among our companies.

Mexican netizens showed their outrage for the signature on social networks and online forums. The hashtag #ACTA became a trending topic on the afternoon following the vote. Most complain that the federal government acted against the will of the people and of the Senate itself, as Pepe Flores mentioned in the blog Alt1040 [es]:

No ha importado la oposición del Senado ni la abrumadora respuesta pública. No importó el grupo de trabajo, ni las sesiones, ni el trabajo de cientos de personas. El gobierno federal lo ha mandado al diablo, sin miramientos. ACTA está de vuelta.

The Senate's objection [es] didn't matter, nor did the overwhelming public outcry. The working group, sessions, and the effort of thousands of people didn't matter. The federal government has disregarded everything with disdain. ACTA is back.

The blog Sopitas [es] offered an explanation of what the law could mean for the freedom of citizens:

1. Se creará un aparato internacional que persiga la violación de los derechos de autor, sea cual sea la naturaleza del producto falsificado.

2. Este aparato compartirá información internacional y comprometerá a cada país, aún pese a sus leyes internas, a seguir los protocolos de ACTA. También permitirá la creación de asistencia técnica que internacionalmente vigilará al mundo digital.

3. Destruirá toda producción que viole los derechos del autor y no permitirá su paso, aun cuando sea de forma individual, entre aduanas.

4. Solicitará a los Proveedores de Servicios de Internet (ISP) que vigilen las comunicaciones de sus usuarios. Los ISP no tendrán alternativa.

5. Cada país deberá fijar las penas de sus infractores, estas pueden ir desde la cárcel hasta multas ejemplares.

6. Modificará la noción de “uso justo” de material protegido por copyright (regularizará los materiales que se distribuyen con fines informativos, como demos, fragmentos de libros o artículos académicos, videos, etc.).

7. Criminalizará el uso compartido de archivos en línea a través de protocolos Peer to Peer.

8. Limitará el acceso a medicamentos de bajo costo en países en vías de desarrollo.

9. Limitará el uso para los agricultores de semillas patentadas.

1. An international body will be created to prosecute the violation of copyright no matter the kind of product was forged.
2. This body will share international information and will commit each country, no matter their local laws, to follow ACTA protocols. It will also allow the creation of technical assistance that will monitor the digital world.
3. It will destroy any sort of production that violates copyright and will not allow its import, even if it's made individually, between customs officials.
4. It will ask Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to monitor communications among their users. The ISP will have no choice.
5. Each country will set the penalties for their offenders, which can go from jail time to high fines.
6. It will modify the notion of “fair use” of protected copyright material (it will regulate the materials that are distributed with the intention to inform, such as demos, book excerpts or academic articles, videos, etc.).
7. It will make it a crime to share archives online through the use of Peer to Peer protocols.
8. It will limit access to low cost medicines in developing countries.
9. It will limit the use of patented seeds by farmers.

Meanwhile, on Twitter users exchanged information, criticism and suppositions about the Agreement.

“ACTA: A threat to world public order”. Image by Geoffrey Dorne, under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Digital journal Sin Embargo (@SinEmbargoMX) [es] pointed out:

@SinEmbargoMX: El Senado le dijo NO; la misma Cofetel dijo NO; Europa dijo NO; y al gobierno federal le vale: firmó ‪#ACTA‬

@SinEmbargoMX [es]: The Senate said NO; the Cofetel itself said NO; Europe said NO; but the federal government doesn't care: it signed #ACTA [es]

Senator Javier Castellón Fonseca in his account (@CastellonNay) [es] said:

@CastellonNay: En secreto lo negociaron, en secreto lo firmaron con la oposicion del senado. No al ACTA, nuevamente

@CastellonNay [es]: They negotiated it secretly; they signed it secretly and with the Senate's opposition. No to ACTA, again

The Twitter account for Stop-ACTA (@PostActa) clarified:

@PostActa: Mexican Senate will need to ratify ‪#ACTA‬ still. Alas, they'd instructed a year ago (july 20th,2011) to NOT even sign it

While the lawyer @durden [es] spoke about what Mexicans need to worry about regarding ACTA:

@durden: La discusión de ‪#ACTA‬ no es el pago de regalías a los autores, es el ilegal rastreo de las IP's y la posibilidad de fincar responsabilidades

@durden [es]: The objective of ‪#ACTA‬ is not the payment of royalties to authors, it is the illegal tracking of IPs and the possibility of assigning legal liability

User @AnaPatricia_C [es] defended:

@AnaPatricia_C: Los derechos de autor deben ser protegidos, pero así mismo deben ser protegidos los derechos de privacidad de los ciudadanos ‪#ACTA‬

@AnaPatricia_C [es]: Author's rights should be protected, but also citizens' right to privacy should be protected too. ‪#ACTA‬

On the other hand, blogger El Menos Peor (@ElMenosPeor2012) [es] conjectured:

@ElMenosPeor2012: Dicen que lo de ‪#ACTA‬ es una treta para que se nos olvide el cochinero de las elecciones. Aquí les vamos a informar de las dos NO OLVIDAMOS.

@ElMenosPeor2012 [es]: They say that ‪#ACTA‬ is a ruse for us to forget the mess that were the elections. We will inform you about both, WE DON'T FORGET

Finally, iSkywalker (@Geekyland) [es] concluded:

@Geekyland: Aunque no se mucho de política, siento que este gobierno se esta ganando una pinche revolución. ‪#ACTA‬ / Error 404 democracy not found

@Geekyland [es]: Even though I don't know much about politics, I feel this government is asking a damn revolution. ‪#ACTA‬ / Error 404 democracy not found

Some netizens called for a protest against the approval of ACTA for Saturday, July 14 in several cities. You can read more reactions under the hashtags ‪#ACTA‬ or #IMPI [es].

December 11 2010

Co:llaboratory: Keynotes zur Zukunft des Urheberrechts

Am kommenden Dienstag gibt es in Berlin eine spannende Veranstaltung zur Zukunft des Urheberrechts. Ausgehend von der Erkenntnis, dass das heutige Urheberrecht den digitalen Herausforderungen in der Informations- und Wissensgesellschaft nicht gerecht wird, soll diskutiert werden, welche Regelungssysteme für informationelle Güter wir in Zukunft brauchen.

Dazu gibt es am 14. Dezember ab 18 Uhr in der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften am Gendarmenmarkt Keynotes von folgenden renommierten Experten:

● Eckhard Höffner, Wirtschaftsjurist und Autor des viel diskutierten Buches “Geschichte und Wesen des Urheberrechts”
● Fred von Lohmann, amerikanischer Rechtsanwalt, lange bei der Electronic Frontier Foundation, seit einigen Monaten bei YouTube
● Niva Elkin-Koren, Professorin für Cyberlaw und Intellectual Property, University of Haifa

Anmelden kann man sich per Online-Formular oder per Fax an 030/820 82-511.

Hintergrund der Veranstaltung ist die gerade laufende dritte Initiative des von Google ins Leben gerufenen Internet & Gesellschaft Co:llaboratory. Die dritte Initiative hat sich zum Ziel gesetzt, die Frage zu klären, welche Eigenschaften ein “Urheberrecht für die Informationsordnung des 21. Jahrhunderts haben muss”. Und weiter: “Ein Urheberrecht, das sowohl Kreativität als auch Innovation fördert, neue Geschäftsmodelle ermöglicht und so generell dem Anspruch einer „Magna Charta der Informationsgesellschaft“ gerecht wird.” Die Antworten auf diese Frage sind hochkomplex.

Disclosure: Von sind beim Co:llaboratory dabei: Till Kreutzer (inhaltlicher Leiter), Philipp Otto (Koordinator und Project Manager), Matthias Spielkamp.

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