April 22, 2010 | By Richard Esguerra

International Consumer Rights Group Publishes 2010 Global IP Watchlist

Each year, Consumers International works with non-governmental organizations worldwide to create and publish the "Consumers International IP Watchlist," a detailed survey of global copyright laws, focusing on national laws' impact on access to knowledge, or A2K. A2K describes the fundamental freedom of individuals to communicate, learn, and exchange information -- activities that are increasingly governed in part or in whole by copyright law.

The IP Watchlist was created to highlight how countries' laws actually fare in facilitating A2K and to act as a counterbalance to the annual Special 301 Report produced by the US Trade Representative. You may recall that former Special 301 Reports have been driven by the concerns and wishes of U.S. copyright and patent holders, resulting in countries being named on the USTR Special 301 watchlist for having anything but the toughest copyright regimes, failing to adopt US DMCA-style technological protection measure laws, and for proposing to introduce balancing copyright exceptions similar to fair use in U.S. law. Unfortunately this has increased the pressure for countries to create unbalanced copyright laws which restrict citizens' ability to use and share information.

By comparison, the IP Watchlist rates a set of 34 countries on whether or not their copyright laws are flexible enough to permit consumers' access to knowledge. The 2010 IP Watch List highlights some countries' good practices — having fair use or fair use-style exceptions to copyright, creating incentives for innovative business models, and providing mechanisms to permit the use of orphan works. But the report also identifies provisions that were found to impair citizens' access to knowledge in various countries, including taxes or fines for private copying, three strikes Internet disconnection provisions, and overbroad legal prohibitions on circumventing copyright owners' technological protection measures.

EFF was pleased to contribute the survey of US copyright law to the 2010 IP Watchlist. We hope that the comparative analysis of national copyright laws that is at the heart of the Consumers International IP Watchlist helps to inspire countries to craft copyright laws that serve the needs of consumers and all stakeholders in the knowledge economy, and supports the efforts of copyright advocates in countries across the world.

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