Dialogue on Scenarios for Global Copyright Reform and Public Interest IP Agenda


17th – 19th June 2011

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The past decade has been a turbulent one for the global intellectual property system in general and for the international copyright regime in particular. On the one hand, there is a trend pressing for greater access to knowledge that is fuelled by an unprecedented growth in communication and information technologies. This is exemplified by the growth of open access initiatives, open source and collaborative models and demands for greater use of existing limitations, exceptions and flexibilities in intellectual property legislations and possibly the elaboration of new instruments in this area. On the other hand, there is a trend towards stronger enforcement of intellectual property rights beyond existing international standards with initiatives such as ACTA, three-strike measures in some industrialized countries and free trade agreements (TPP).

In this overall picture, the place of copyright enforcement in the digital environment remains hotly contested. Meanwhile, at WIPO’s copyright body - the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) - developing countries have made proposals for new international instruments on limitations and exceptions for the visually impaired and for libraries, education and research.  At the same time, there is also a growing recognition about the need for solid empirical evidence to better inform these copyright and enforcement discussions. The recently released report on Media Piracy in Emerging Economies (MPEE) seeks to precisely achieve that.

It is against this background that this dialogue on Scenarios for Global Copyright Reform and the Public Interest Intellectual Property is taking place on the margins of the WIPO SCCR which is meeting from 15th to 24th June 2011. It is organized by ICTSD, the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) of the American University College of Law, American Assembly and the Fundação Getulio Vargas.

The first day - Saturday 18th June- will focus on recent proposals, scenarios and options for global copyright reform. It will discuss recent developments in this area - including the state of play on exceptions and limitations at WIPO SCCR - and their possible implications.

The second day - Sunday 19th June- will focus on the broader challenges facing a positive public interest intellectual property agenda and access to knowledge in the face of recent trends towards expansive intellectual property protection and stronger enforcement of intellectual property rights. Questions raised include:  What are the prospects for positive reform, on both process and substance, in various forums for the making of international, regional and national intellectual property law? How can the substance of intellectual property norms be tailored to better protect and promote the public interest? What positive reform efforts are underway now and what lessons do they teach us about effective framing and the possibilities of scaling proposals vertically or horizontally between policy making forums?

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