Consumers International IP Watchlist Report 2011

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The third annual Consumers International IP Watchlist rates 26 countries from around the world on how well their intellectual property (IP) systems support consumers' interests in access to knowledge. None of the countries in this year's list scored in the top grade overall, and more than two thirds of countries failed even to achieve a passing grade in one or more of the eleven major areas that matter to consumers.

The Watchlist report gives examples of some of the questions on which many countries scored badly: whether temporary digital copies are made subject to copyright, how easily works can be placed in the public domain, the legality of non-commercial remixes and mash-ups, and whether suppliers are penalised for obstructing consumers from exercising their rights over copyright works.

On the other hand, the news is not all bad. Brazil and South Africa are praised for some of their best practices in access to knowledge, and a few other countries have shown a significant improvement in their rankings this year – though in some cases this has more to do with the refinement of the Watchlist criteria than with the improvement of their laws.

This year's report includes seven new reports from Europe, which was the most neglected continent in previous editions, yet is also one of the most important. Europe gave birth to copyright and patent law, and today upholds those institutions perhaps even more zealously than the United States – for example having raised a WTO dispute over copyright exceptions in US law, and being the staunchest opponent of a new treaty on copyright exceptions for the blind. This makes it all the more paradoxical that the country rated as the fairest in the world this year comes from Europe. Find out why in this year's report.

These are the overall rankings of the countries studied, from best (most consumer-friendly) to worst (most hostile to consumer interests):

  1. Moldova
  2. USA
  3. India
  4. Lebanon
  5. New Zealand
  6. Malaysia
  7. France
  8. Canada
  9. Pakistan
  10. South Africa
  11. China
  12. Australia
  13. Albania
  1. South Korea
  2. Romania
  3. Japan
  4. Serbia
  5. Slovenia
  6. Armenia
  7. Egypt
  8. Argentina
  9. Belarus
  10. Brazil
  11. UK
  12. Chile
  13. Thailand

Looking ahead, the signs are mixed – while some new consumer-friendly copyright law amendments are in the pipeline for 2011, so too are two very unfriendly multilateral trade agreements. This underscores the need for consumer groups to continue to make their voices heard to ensure more balance in IP laws and enforcement practices.

You can now download a free copy of the IP Watchlist report for 2011, and browse through the individual country reports on which the report is based. You can also review the previous 2010 and 2009 editions, and help to develop the 2012 edition.

CI members can also request full-colour printed copies of the Watchlist.

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