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Category Archives: Copyright

UN Report – Copyright policy and the right to science and culture

  1. Science and culture are not only of great importance to the knowledge economy; they are also fundamental to human dignity and autonomy [this is the link to the report, Word doc.]
  2. In that area, two influential paradigms of international law — intellectual property and human rights — have evolved largely separately.
  3. Recent developments, however, have rendered the interface of those two regimes more salient. Since the 1990s, a new wave of international intellectual property treaties has increased the tension between intellectual property and human rights standards. In 2000, the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights adopted a resolution on intellectual property and human rights calling for the primacy of human rights over trade law (resolution 2000/7). Since then, public interest groups and developing countries have gradually aligned in an “access to knowledge” movement seeking to rebalance international intellectual property governance. Asserting that “humanity faces a global crisis in the governance of knowledge, technology and culture,” the 2005 Geneva Declaration on the Future of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) called for renewed attention to alternative policy approaches to promote innovation and creativity without the social costs of privatization. Increasing attention given to the rights of indigenous peoples has also provided impetus to approaching intellectual property policy from a human rights perspective.
  4. Significant uncertainty remains, nonetheless, on how to resolve the potential tensions between intellectual property laws and human rights. The right to science and culture — understood as encompassing the right to take part in cultural life, to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, and the right to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which a person is the author — offers a particularly promising framework for reconciliation.[5] Both intellectual property systems and the right to science and culture obligate governments “to recognize and reward human creativity and innovation and, at the same time, to ensure public access to the fruits of those endeavours. Striking the appropriate balance between these two goals is the central challenge that both regimes share”. Moreover and importantly, both cultural participation and protection of authorship are human rights principles designed to work in tandem.
  5. The Special Rapporteur organized an open consultation on 6 June 2014 to elicit the views of States and other stakeholders on the impact of intellectual property regimes on the enjoyment of the right to science and culture. She also convened experts’ meetings on 10 and 11 June 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland, and 28 October 2014 at New York University, United States of America (see annex). Numerous contributions were also received from States and stakeholders and are available online. The Special Rapporteur is grateful to all those who contributed.
  6. The present report is the first of two consecutive studies by the Special Rapporteur on intellectual property policy as it relates to the right to science and culture. This first report focuses on the interface of copyright policy with the protection of authors’ moral and material interests and the public’s right to benefit from scientific and cultural creativity. A second report, to be submitted to the General Assembly in 2015, will examine the connection between the right to science and culture and patent policy.”

Denmark’s largest digital archive launched

The Copenhagen Post – “Denmark’s largest digital photo album with nearly two million images…open[ed] to the general public [February 20, 2015]. Danes will have access to the online database at, which includes 1,841,254  documents such as photos, diaries, letters, and sound and video recordings. Since the late 1980s, all items from the country’s moreContinue Reading

Over 310,000 free photos, vectors and art illustrations

“Finding free images of high quality is a tedious task – due to copyright issues, attribution requirements, or simply the lack of quality. This inspired us to create Pixabay – a repository for stunning public domain pictures. Your source for free vectors, free drawings and free photos. You can use any Pixabay image without attributionContinue Reading

4 Ways Copyright Law Actually Controls Your Whole Digital Life

By Kate Cox in the Consumerist – January 22, 2015: “The tendrils of copyright law reach worldwide into almost everything we consume, do, and are in the digital era. The rules and regulations about how the internet works, what privacy rights you have, and how the entire digital economy functions all spring from copyright. It’sContinue Reading

Ford Tries to Shut Down Independent Repair Tool with Copyright

EFF – “…The Ford Motor Company…recently sued Autel, a manufacturer of third-party diagnostics for automobiles, for creating a diagnostic tool that includes a list of Ford car parts and their specifications. Ford claims that it owns a copyright on this list of parts, the “FFData file,” and thus can keep competitors from including it inContinue Reading

Copyright and Viral Advertising in Participatory Culture

Erickson, Kris, Copyright and Viral Advertising in Participatory Culture (January 1, 2015). Available for download at SSRN: “This chapter first offers an introduction to current theory on viral advertising from literature in sociology and communication, exploring the contradictory status of the viral advertisement as a media form. The three principal differentiating characteristics of the viralContinue Reading

Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition

Released December 22, 2014. Download full text of the Compendium (1,288 pages). “Register of Copyrights Maria A. Pallante has released the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition (the “Third Edition”). The first major revision in more than two decades, the Third Editon presents more than 1200 pages of administrative practices and sets the stageContinue Reading

114th Congress New Member Pictorial Directory

New Member Pictorial Directory: 114th Congress. Prepared by the Committee on House Administration – Candice S. Miller, Chairman; Robert A. Brady, Pennsylvania, Ranking Minority Member. November 10, 2014.

Law Firm Copying and Fair Use: An Examination of Different Purpose and Fair Use Markets

Jones, D. R., Law Firm Copying and Fair Use: An Examination of Different Purpose and Fair Use Markets (September 29, 2014). South Texas Law Review, Vol. 56, No. 2, 2014 – Forthcoming; University of Memphis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 144. Available for download at SSRN: “In several recent lawsuits, publishers sued law firms forContinue Reading

An Information Theory of Copyright Law

Fromer, Jeanne C., An Information Theory of Copyright Law (September 23, 2014). Emory Law Journal, Vol. 64, p. 71, 2014. Available for download at SSRN: “The dominant American theory of copyright law is utilitarian, in offering the incentive of limited copyright protection to creators to generate material that is valuable to society. Less settled isContinue Reading

Using Copyright to Combat Revenge Porn

Using Copyright to Combat Revenge Porn, Amanda Levendowski: “Over the past several years, the phenomenon of “revenge porn” – defined as sexually explicit images that are publicly shared online, without the consent of the pictured individual – has attracted national attention. Victims of revenge porn often suffer devastating consequences, including losing their jobs, but have hadContinue Reading

Libraries may digitize books without permission, EU top court rules

Loek Essers – PC World: “European libraries may digitize books and make them available at electronic reading points without first gaining consent of the copyright holder, the highest European Union court ruled Thursday. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled in a case in which the Technical University of Darmstadt digitized a book published byContinue Reading