The past twelve months have seen growing global discontent over the priority shown in US foreign policy to the interests of intellectual property holders, over broader public interests in access to knowledge, access to medicines, and communications rights.
This discontent has been fueled by the justifiable perception that the voice of ordinary consumers is often trivialised and dismissed by US policymakers. Consumers feel that their legitimate concerns will never be given any weight against the submissions of the well-funded IP-holder lobby groups.
The United States Trade Representative has just released its 2010 Special 301 Report, which is an annual report card for how strongly other countries enforce the intellectual property rights of United States rights holders - rather like the converse of our IP Watchlist, which was released last week and focuses on how well a country's copyright laws advance the interests of consumers.
3D Trade-Human Rights-Equitable Economy, a Geneva-based NGO, and IBON Foundation submitted a paper entitled The Philippines: Impact of copyright rules on access to education to the Pre-Sessional Working Group of the Committee on the Rights of the Child last June 2009.
Consumers International's inaugural IP Watch List, released this week, revealed that there are a number of less developed countries providing an example for the rest of the world of how to balance copyright owners' interests with consumers' access to knowledge. But judging from the latest United States' Special 301 Report, also just released, this is an insight that US policy makers still lack.
The launch of the IP Watch List is to be held in conjunction with the upcoming Unlocking IP conference held by the Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre of UNSW. However you don't need to register to attend the conference in order to attend just the launch, so long as you RSVP to let the organisers know you are coming by emailing Sophia Christou.
The address is:
University of New South Wales Kensington Campus
The summary report of the 2009 IP Watch List may be downloaded in PDF format in English or Spanish below.
The activities of Consumers International on A2Knetwork.org are as easy to navigate as A, B, C.
The Consumers International IP Watchlist identifies countries whose IP policies and practices are harmful to consumers. This Watch List is used as a counterbalance to the United States' Special 301 Report, which is an annual report highlighting those countries that supposedly do not provide strong enough protection for the interests of US intellectual property owners.
From 2009-2012, Consumers International published annual editions of the IP Watchlist, based on manually collated data. Those reports from 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 IP Watchlist Reports are still available.
From 2013, the collation of the report data is done automatically, so you can now view current statistics based on the reports that we have to hand day by day! As of Saturday May 25, 2013, the five best and worst countries in our survey are shown below, based on how well their intellectual property regimes respect consumer rights. In this table A represents a good score, that shows that consumers' interests are being observed in this area. B, C and D are progressively not so good... and F is a fail. These are the overall scores; more details are available that break these scores into categories.
|Best-rated countries||Worst-rated countries|
|1||Israel (B)||Jordan (D)|
|2||India (B)||Kenya (D)|
|3||Moldova (B)||Thailand (C-)|
|4||Indonesia (B)||Zambia (C-)|
|5||New Zealand (B-)||Argentina (C-)|
This survey is based on the answers to 49 questions about IP laws and practices which can be answered "Yes", "No", or "In part". A select sample of those questions will be featured below from time to time. You can view the answers to all questions in the country reports below.
Are rights holders prohibited from excluding user rights under copyright law?
For example, rights holders can use the fine print of a licence agreement to take away your legal right to make backup copies or quotations. To maintain balance between rights holders and consumers, it is important that the law prevent them from taking away your user rights through fine print. Unfortunately a majority of countries don't have such a law.
Is there any general user right that is based on a set of balancing criteria, such as a "fair use" right?
This deals with the availability of a flexible user right like "fair use", or "fair dealing" when this is not reserved for a specific purpose like education. Such a user right enables the law to adapt to new uses dynamically, and is the bedrock of online innovation in the relatively few countries that have it. Thankfully, we are slowly seeing more countries amending their laws to include a flexible right, and this is a trend that should continue.
Are temporary or transient copies, incidental to a lawful use, excepted from copyright?
It is important for temporary copies to be left out of copyright, because such copies are made automatically every time we use a computer or the Internet. If the making of automatic temporary copies could be controlled by copyright owners (as proposed under the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement), the use of digital goods would become subject to their permission. The result? More expensive digital products, with more limitations on their use.
Click through for a full page of more detailed statistics on how each country scored across eleven categories of questions. (If you want to see how the statistics were generated, we can enable an expert mode for you on request!) For even more detail, read on for the country reports below.
Below are the countries for which reports are available, along with an indication of how complete and current they are. For your convenience, an answer that supports consumer rights is answered "Yes" and colour-coded in green, whereas a problem area is answered "No" and coloured red.
To edit the report for your country (edits are moderated), create an account, log in, and click "Edit" while viewing the report you wish to edit. The newest questions will be highlighted in green, the most-recently amended ones in yellow. If your country is not listed, you can submit a new draft country report.
|Albania||2 years 12 weeks ago||
|Argentina||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Armenia||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Australia||48 weeks 2 days ago||
|Bangladesh||3 years 10 weeks ago||
|Belarus||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Brazil||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Brazil||2 years 10 weeks ago||
|Cameroon||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Canada||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Chile||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|China (PRC)||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Costa Rica||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Costa Rica||1 year 13 weeks ago||
|Egypt||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Fiji||1 year 11 weeks ago||
|France||2 years 11 weeks ago||
|France||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|India||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Indonesia||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Israel||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Japan||1 year 4 weeks ago||
|Jordan||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Kenya||3 years 10 weeks ago||
|Lebanon||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Malawi||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Malaysia||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Mexico||3 years 10 weeks ago||
|Moldova||2 years 11 weeks ago||
|Morocco||3 years 9 weeks ago||
|Morocco||3 years 9 weeks ago||
|New Zealand||1 week 1 day ago||
|Nigeria||3 years 10 weeks ago||
|Pakistan||2 years 11 weeks ago||
|Philippines||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Romania||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Serbia||2 years 11 weeks ago||
|Slovenia||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|South Africa||2 years 11 weeks ago||
|South Korea||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Spain||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Sweden||3 years 10 weeks ago||
|Thailand||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Ukraine||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|United Kingdom||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|United States of America||1 year 9 weeks ago||
|Vietnam||3 years 10 weeks ago||
|Zambia||3 years 10 weeks ago||