Thursday, 29 April 2010

NWU comments on intellectual property enforcement

Shortly before I left for Europe, I helped draft comments which were submitted by the National Writers Union in response to a call by the new U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator for input on intellectual property infringement and enforcement.

The apparent intent of the “public consultation” was to collect political ammunition for US criminal prosecutions and international treaty initiatives (such as ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) against individuals, especially individual Internet users, on behalf of publishers. But according to the NWU the main IP infringement and enforcement problem for copyrights in written work is the theft of writers’ copyrighted works by publishers who appropriate, exploit, and/or purport to license electronic rights, when all they have themselves licensed from writers are print rights, or who re-publish works online without making any attempt to verify who actually holds the rights to electronic publication.

Writers, the NWU argues, have no effective recourse against publishers who are stealing their work and putting it online without their permission and/or without paying them according to their contracts.

Much of the debate about measures like “graduated response” (a “three strikes you’re out” scheme that would culminate in termination of Internet access for those accused of illegal file-sharing) falsely implies that publishers are primarily the victims of copyright infringement. The NWU’s submission to the new IP enforcement czar is an important reminder that the real victims are writers and other creators, not publishers, and that publishers are often themselves the perpetrators of the most serious forms of knowing, wholesale, for-profit copyright infringement.

Link | Posted by Edward on Thursday, 29 April 2010, 11:47 (11:47 AM)
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