It seems I have been looking at a lot of international comments and writings about copyright lately, for reasons I explained a couple of weeks ago. Now I have the chance to pass on two really interesting examples of sensible approaches to the reform of copyright law.
When British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he was ordering a review of the relationship between IP protection and economic growth, I was one of many who was heartened by the decision. That was especially true because Cameron singled out the possibility, certainly correct but frequently ignored, that fair use provisions could be an essential part of copyright laws that truly foster growth.
Now I am pleased to report that the review panel for this effort has been named. It includes not merely representatives from the traditional content industries, but an economist, two law professors and a specialist in entrepreneurship, as well as one of Britain’s most creative media executives. One of those professors, I am happy to say, is Duke’s own (but Scotland’s native son) James Boyle.
In addition to the desire to hear a diversity of views that is evinced by this panel, there is also strong evidence that the work of the review group will be carried on in an open and public fashion. The panel has a blog that is being used to recount the various travels and interviews that will go into creating a final report. It should make for fascinating reading.
Both these approaches should be lessons to the Obama administration, whose own recent report on IP protections is clearly the work solely of “the usual suspects” from traditional content industries and which also worked hard to keep the recent ACTA negotiations as secret as possible. The contrast could not be more telling.
Back on this side of the Atlantic, there is also a great deal to learn from the ongoing process of copyright reform in Brazil. As Pedro Paranagua explains in this post on the IP Watch blog, there is a lot of pressure being brought to bear on the Minister of Culture, who is leading the effort at reform. That pressure, of course, comes from both sides of the debate. One unfortunate effect has been that the Ministry of Culture itself has stopped using a Creative Commons license on its website. Paranagua asks if it is inevitable that the process of reform remain polarized and schizophrenic, or if it is possible to take a “both/and” approach to the debate between wider cultural access and fair remuneration for copyright holders.
Needless to say, Paranagua advocates the both/and approach, arguing that both broader access AND fair profits are possible, as well as suggesting that both a non-exclusive list of exceptions and limitations AND a fair use style flexible exception would make for a truly balanced law.