On a knife edge? South Africa’s new copyright law | EIFL

“The Copyright Amendment Bill [B13B – 2017] had been sitting on the desk of President Cyril Ramaphosa for over a year waiting to be signed into law. In June 2020, when Blind South Africa issued a legal challenge over the delay, the President acted. But instead of signing the Bill that had been approved by the legislature, the President used his prerogative to return it to parliament citing constitutional concerns with certain aspects, including new exceptions for libraries, education and persons with disabilities.

The President’s rejection of the Bill is widely seen as the result of pressure by copyright industries, and the threat of trade sanctions and reduced future investment from the United States and the European Union. …

In advance of the briefing, EIFL wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly and to the Portfolio Committee to pledge support for the Bill. EIFL’s letter sets out how libraries and educational institutions in South Africa, and the millions of South Africans citizens they serve, will benefit greatly from new exceptions designed for non-commercial uses. They will help to re-calibrate the existing copyright system in South Africa which forces resource-deprived institutions to pay high licence fees to largely European and US companies. (For example, the 2011 Copyright Review Commission Report, known as the Farlam Review, confirmed that 70% of copying fees paid by higher education institutions in the previous year were distributed to foreign rightsholders). While this is a windfall for these companies, it is in our view, bad public policy for South Africa.

EIFL’s letter also notes that the exceptions in the Bill are modelled on provisions in the copyright laws of developed countries including Australia, Canada, Israel, Singapore, the UK and the US, that the Bill seeks merely to ensure that libraries and educational institutions in South Africa have the same rights than their counterparts in these countries, and any concerns that they may be inconsistent with South Africa’s obligations under international copyright treaties are misplaced….”

Libraries Are Updating for Today’s Digital Needs. Congress Needs to Clear the Way. | Public Knowledge : Public Knowledge

“Many libraries have found a solution, at least when it comes to making physical books available digitally. This system is called Controlled Digital Lending (CDL). Libraries have a strong argument that fair use makes it possible to make an electronic copy of a book, and allow someone to “borrow” it, to the extent that such copying simply replicates what would have been possible with physical books under first sale. Under CDL, a digital copy of a physical book can only be read and used by one person at a time. While it is being “lent” electronically, a library engaged in CDL would take the physical book out of circulation, and only one person can “borrow” an electronic book at once. Since any of the copies made under this system necessarily cannot have an effect any different than normal lending could, libraries are on pretty solid ground that these acts of copying are fair uses.

But CDL only gets you so far. While it works with physical books, electronic materials often come with licensing and contract terms, as well as copy-prevention technology, that set highly specific conditions on how the library can lend it out. Certainly, some libraries buy special library editions of books and have various library-specific arrangements with publishers — but they don’t have to. With physical books, libraries are free to buy a book at any bookstore, or take books via donation, and lend them out freely as part of their collection. With electronic materials, libraries generally have to buy licenses for special, restricted library editions, that carry significant usage restrictions and might even expire over time or cause the files to “self-destruct” after a set number of loans.

It’s time for Congress to step in and clarify that libraries should be as free to buy and lend books today as they have been for centuries. We need legislation that ensures that libraries are free to buy ebooks and other electronic materials and lend them out, just as they can with physical media. A library should have the right to simply purchase an ebook at its mass market retail price, and then check it out to patrons one at a time. Licenses for library ebooks shouldn’t expire, and they shouldn’t carry restrictions that prevent libraries from carrying out their educational and archival missions. This legislation should also clarify that existing CDL programs for physical media are lawful, to avoid costly litigation over the fair use arguments….”

Big Pharma Attacks Coronavirus Price Controls

“On April 15, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., along with Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, laid out basic principles for the development and pricing of coronavirus therapies and vaccines. Their demands were simple: Pharmaceutical companies should have to set reasonable prices for their drugs and vaccines used to treat or prevent Covid-19. They should be required to make the costs of research and manufacturing of these products public. During the pandemic, the legislators said, companies should not be able to profit exclusively from these potentially lifesaving drugs.

“Exclusivity determines who has access, who can manufacture, and how we scale up production to meet the need,” the members of Congress noted in a press release at the time….

Few have spoken out against the protections that were designed to ensure equitable access to lifesaving medicines — at least publicly. But privately, a coalition of conservative groups attacked the proposed patient protections as “dangerous, disruptive, and unacceptable.” In a May 7 letter, representatives of 31 groups, including Hudson Institute, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, and Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, called on Congress to reject the drug pricing guidelines and defended patents and the exclusive right to profit from drugs as “America’s great assets.” …

Perhaps most galling to the Democratic lawmakers is the fact that the vast majority (if not all) of the drugs they seek to protect from exorbitant pricing have been developed at least in part with taxpayer dollars. Between 2010 and 2016, every drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration benefited from science funded with federal research through the National Institutes of Health, according to the advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs. During that time, taxpayers spent more than $100 billion on that research.

Although American taxpayers are the “angel investors” of pharmaceuticals, as Doggett put it, many cannot afford the treatments they’ve bankrolled….

On Friday, the World Health Organization unveiled a global effort to pool intellectual property, data, and research related to Covid-19. While 36 countries have already announced their support for the project, the U.S. was not among them. Just as WHO was detailing its plan to broadly share the benefits of scientific advancement, President Donald Trump was announcing his plan to withdraw from the global organization.”

If I could radically reshape copyright law for research | Martin Paul Eve | Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing

“So what, as a thought experiment, might it look like to rethink copyright? What would I suggest if we could get new primary legislation in the UK to change research and copyright arrangements?

I would make it so that research produced by employees at publicly funded research universities could not be placed under copyright. (i.e. were committed to the public domain.) A downstream provision could be included that would mean that no new copyright could be placed on such work by dint of design, typography etc.

I would abolish the implementation of EU Directive 2001/29/EC, at least for academic researchers. This directive makes it a criminal offence to break Digital Rights Management/Technical Protection Measures on digital files. Without the modification or abolition of this criminal directive, even public-domain work can be unusable for text mining.

I would allow academic researchers to re-use and to re-publish material, even that in copyright, that is necessary for their work. In other words, I would absolve academic researchers and institutions of copyright offences that are necessary to conducting their work. This would include distributing in-copyright articles and books to colleagues; publishing in-copyright images and videos that are necessary for work. I would include a clause that such re-use must include attribution credit.

I would extend the current copyright exemptions for text and data mining to a blanket non-commercial research exemption. I would add an allowance to circumvent any API rate limiting or other technological protection measure for the purposes of mining material for research purposes….”

Comment of the European Copyright Society on the Implementation of Art.14 of the Directive (EU) 2019/790 on Copyright in the Digital Single Market

“Article 14 obliges Member States to “provide that, when the term of protection of a work of visual art has expired, any material resulting from an act of reproduction of that work is not subject to copyright or related rights, unless the material resulting from that act of reproduction is original in the sense that it is the author’s own intellectual creation.” The wording of Article 14 appears, of course, somewhat clumsy in stating that the resulting reproduction “is not subject to copyright …, unless [it] is original in the sense that it is the author’s own intellectual creation” because, on the one hand, in strict copyright terms, a mere reproduction is not an author’s own intellectual creation, and, on the other hand, once an author’s own intellectual creation can be found, copyright protection shall attach according to the very wording of the Article in question. What is, of course, meant is (1) that once the copyright of a work of visual arts has expired, it may not only be reproduced, communicated or used without the author’s consent since it is in the public domain, but that in addition, (2) no exclusive rights shall attach to any copy of a public domain work of art, unless the reproduction constitutes its author’s own intellectual creation. This is a remarkable provision which, for the first time in the EU, grants a positive status to works belonging to the public domain, by prohibiting any regaining of exclusivity therein….”

VAT scrapped on E-publications – GOV.UK

“Plans to scrap VAT on e-books and e-newspapers have been significantly fast-tracked in a boost to readers and publishers during the coronavirus outbreak, the Chancellor announced today.

Rishi Sunak said the zero rate of VAT will now apply to all e-publications from tomorrow (1 May 2020) – seven months ahead of schedule – potentially slashing the cost of a £12 e-book by £2 and e-newspapers subscriptions by up to £25 a year.

In support of the print newspaper industry, the government has also announced it will be spending up to £35 million on newspaper advertising over the next 3 months as part of its Covid-19 communications campaign to ensure the whole UK is aware of the latest government guidance and advice….”

VAT scrapped on E-publications – GOV.UK

“Plans to scrap VAT on e-books and e-newspapers have been significantly fast-tracked in a boost to readers and publishers during the coronavirus outbreak, the Chancellor announced today.

Rishi Sunak said the zero rate of VAT will now apply to all e-publications from tomorrow (1 May 2020) – seven months ahead of schedule – potentially slashing the cost of a £12 e-book by £2 and e-newspapers subscriptions by up to £25 a year.

In support of the print newspaper industry, the government has also announced it will be spending up to £35 million on newspaper advertising over the next 3 months as part of its Covid-19 communications campaign to ensure the whole UK is aware of the latest government guidance and advice….”

Netherlands commits to Free Software by default

“In an open letter to the Parliament, the Dutch minister for internal affairs Raymond Knops commits to a “Free Software by default” policy and underlines its benefits for society. Current market regulations shall be reworded to allow publishing Free Software by the government.

In the 2018 budget debate, Members of the Dutch Parliament raised questions about actively publishing Free Software by the government, and an ‘open source by default’ policy for procurement. These questions appealed to a report earlier in 2017 on a government-ordered inquiry in the options for publishing software under a Free and Open-Source-Software-License. The report states that adopting Free Software could make the government more transparent, as well as reduce costs and stimulate the economy. Additional efforts are deemed necessary to reap these benefits by ensuring readable and secure code and supporting the community at large. However, it also underlined the possibility that the government publishing Free Software could be considered unfair competition under current market regulations. Doing so would only be legal if the government abides by a strict set of regulations, which in its current form would render such publication nearly impossible….”

Europe Must Take Urgent Copyright Law Action To Support Distance Learning & Research During the Coronavirus Pandemic – LIBER

“During this unprecedented global emergency, LIBER calls on European Commissioners, Member State governments, publishers and authors to urgently help libraries, universities and other educational establishments, so that they can continue supplying researchers, teachers and students with access to books, archives and other instructional materials….”

John Willinsky, Copyright’s Constitutional Violation: When the Law Fails to “Promote the Progress of Science” (While Promoting Practically Everything Else)

Draft of a book by John Willinsky, shared in a Google doc.

“A summary of this book’s case for an open access reform of the United States Copyright Act:

A consensus has recently formed among scholarly publishing’s principal stakeholders (including the big publishers) that open access to published research does more than closed subscriptions for the progress of science.
 

This consensus means that the current use of copyright to restrict access to research places the law in violation of the Constitution, which holds that such laws are “to promote the progress of science,” rather than impede it.
 

In lieu of copyright reform, the National Institutes of Health and other parties have created legal and extra-legal workarounds that compromise open access (with embargoes, final drafts, illegal copies), slow its spread, and allow costs to soar, with copyright contributing to open access’ market failure to date.
 

Yet, copyright offers a promising strategy in “compulsory licensing,” which could require, in the case of scholarly publishing, immediate open access to published research and fair compensation to its publishers from its principal institutional users and funders.
 

Such reform would be daunting, if Congress had not amended copyright nearly 60 times in the digital era (but not for science), with many of its reforms now operating internationally, which is the goal for open access copyright reform. …”

 

Proposed Priorities, Requirement, and Definitions-Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education-Open Textbooks Pilot Program

“The Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education proposes priorities, requirement, and definitions for the Open Textbooks Pilot program conducted under the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 84.116T. The Assistant Secretary may use one or more of these priorities, requirement, and definitions for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2020 and later years. We intend this action to further develop and identify programs and practices that improve instruction and student learning outcomes, as well as increase access, affordability, and completion rates of students seeking postsecondary education degrees or other recognized credentials as a result of the development, enhancement, and use of open textbooks (as defined in this notice)….”

Proposed Priorities, Requirement, and Definitions-Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education-Open Textbooks Pilot Program

“The Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education proposes priorities, requirement, and definitions for the Open Textbooks Pilot program conducted under the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 84.116T. The Assistant Secretary may use one or more of these priorities, requirement, and definitions for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2020 and later years. We intend this action to further develop and identify programs and practices that improve instruction and student learning outcomes, as well as increase access, affordability, and completion rates of students seeking postsecondary education degrees or other recognized credentials as a result of the development, enhancement, and use of open textbooks (as defined in this notice)….”

You share, we take care!

“Article 25fa of the Copyright Act (Taverne Amendment) allows researchers to share short scientific works (e.g. articles & book chapters), regardless of any restrictive publishers’ guidelines….

The Dutch universities decided to give open access an extra boost from 2019 by starting a pilot early 2019. On the basis of the Taverne Amendment, the publishers’ versions of short scientific works can be made available after six months via the university repository. It is important that the researcher explicitly asks for this. From January 1, 2020, the VSNU will roll out the use of the Taverne amendment widely within the affiliated universities….”