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Category Archives: Digital Rights

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.”

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

Houston, We Have A Public Domain Problem – Commentary

Parker Higgins is an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation: “I received a bogus copyright takedown notice for using public domain audio on SoundCloud yesterday. The sound in question—the famous “Houston, we have a problem” snippet of the Apollo 13 mission—is incontrovertibly available to all, for any use, without copyright restrictions. The fact that it’sContinue Reading

Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books

Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books, Jean-Baptiste Michel, et al. Science 331, 176 (2011); DOI: 10.1126/science.1199644 “We constructed a corpus of digitized texts containing about 4% of all books ever printed. Analysis of this corpus enables us to investigate cultural trends quantitatively. We survey the vast terrain of ‘culturomics,’ focusing on linguistic and cultural phenomena that wereContinue Reading

British Library releases over 1 million images using Flickr Commons

British Library Digital scholarship blog: “We have released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books digitised by Microsoft who then generously gifted the scanned images to us, allowing us to release them back into the Public Domain. The images themselvesContinue Reading

Pew – Tablet and E-reader Ownership Update

Lee Rainie, Aaron Smith -Oct 18, 2013 “The number of Americans ages 16 and older who own tablet computers has grown to 35%, and the share who have e-reading devices like Kindles and Nooks has grown to 24%. Overall, the number of people who have a tablet or an e-book reader among those 16 andContinue Reading

Contentious Google Book Scanning Case Approaches Fall Trial Date

Publishers Week news in following Google Book Scanning project postings: “After a round of key filings, two Authors Guild cases challenging Google’s ambitious library book-scanning program are on schedule for early fall trial dates. Final reply briefs were filed July 27 for the Authors Guild v. HathiTrust, with that case now fully briefed and allContinue Reading

EU Commission sets out "blueprint" for Intellectual Property Rights to boost creativity and innovation

EUROPA press release: “Intellectual property rights (IPR), which comprise patents, trademarks, designs and geographical indications, as well as copyright (authors’ rights) and rights related to copyright (for performers, producers and broadcasters), have been around for centuries. Often, without our even realising, they affect our daily lives: they protect the technology we use (cars, mobile phones,Continue Reading

Comment: Why Internet Protocol (IP) Addresses Should Be Protected as Personally Identifiable Information

McIntyre, Joshua J., The Number is Me: Why Internet Protocol (IP) Addresses Should Be Protected as Personally Identifiable Information (August 15, 2010). DePaul Law Review, Vol. 60, No. 3, 2011. “Although computer logs typically correlate online activity only to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, those addresses can be used to expose the individuals behind the computers.Continue Reading

BookServer is an open system to find, buy, or borrow e- books

Internet Archive BookServer: “The widespread success of digital reading devices has proven that the world is ready to read books on screens. As the audience for digital books grows, we can evolve from an environment of single devices connected to single sources into a distributed system where readers can find books from sources across theContinue Reading

Cory Doctorow's Commentary on How DRM Becomes Law

A Behind-The-Scenes Look At How DRM Becomes Law: “Cory Doctorow looks at the back room dealing that allowed entertainment companies and electronics companies to craft public policy on digital rights management.”

Viacom Files Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against YouTube

FindLaw: Viacom Files Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against YouTube and Google Over Unauthorized Use Of The Company’s Shows: Viacom International, Inc. v. YouTube, Inc., YouTube, LLC, and Google, Inc., March 13, 2007. Viacom statement: Suit Seeks Court Ruling To Require YouTube And Google To Comply With Copyright Laws And Pay $1 Billion In Damages Google statement:Continue Reading