International Activists Launch New Website to Gather and Share Copyright Knowledge

[news release] Anyone Can Track National Copyright Laws Globally with ‘Copyright Watch’The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Electronic Information for Libraries (eIFL.net), and other international copyright experts joined together today to launch Copyright Watch — a public website created to centralize resources on national copyright laws at www.copyright-watch.org.”Copyright laws are changing across the world, and it’s hard to keep track of these changes, even for those whose daily work is affected by them,” said Teresa Hackett, Program Manager at eIFL.net. “A law that is passed in one nation can quickly be taken up by others, bilateral trade agreements, regional policy initiatives, or international treaties. With Copyright Watch, people can learn about the similarities and differences in national copyright laws, and they can use that information to more easily spot patterns and emerging trends.”Copyright Watch is the first comprehensive and up-to-date online repository of national copyright laws. To find links to national and regional copyright laws, users can choose a continent or search using a country name. The site will be updated over time to include proposed amendments to laws, as well as commentary and context from national copyright experts. Copyright Watch will help document how legislators around the world are coping with the challenges of new technology and new business models.”Balanced and well-calibrated copyright laws are extremely important in our global information society,” said Gwen Hinze, International Policy Director at EFF. “Small shifts in the balance between the rights of copyright owners and the limitations and exceptions relied on by those who use copyrighted content can destroy or enable business models, criminalize or liberate free expression and everyday behavior, and support the development of new technologies that facilitate access to knowledge for all the world’s citizens. We hope that Copyright Watch will encourage comparative research and help to highlight more and less flexible copyright regimes.””Details of copyright law used to be important only for a few people in creative industries,” added Danny O’Brien, International Outreach Coordinator at EFF. “But now, with the growth of the Internet and other digital tools, we are all authors, publishers, and sharers of copyrighted works. Copyright Watch was created so citizens of the world can share and compare information about their countries’ laws.”Funding to create Copyright Watch was generously provided by the Open Society Institute.Copyright Watch: www.copyright-watch.org
http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2009/11/13Also see:Keeping a Global Eye on Copyright Law
We spend a lot of our time at EFF trying to spot new proposals in copyright across the world, and understanding whether they’re good or bad for civil liberties. We’re not the only ones: our understanding depends on the work of hundreds of researchers worldwide who are constantly sifting through new drafts and consolidating older reforms in hundreds of nations.It’s a global effort, and that’s why we’re happy to announce our involvement in a truly global project: Copyright Watch. Working with academics, libraries and copyright monitors from across the world, Copyright Watch brings together the most recent copies of laws from as many countries as we could find. And with that global team, we’ll be tracking new proposals, consultations, and freshly passed regulations: finding the promising changes, and highlighting the spectacularly bad ideas hopefully before they can take hold.A single country’s copyright law can be truly byzantine (the United States’ seems to be the longest at around 130,000 words, although we’re pretty sure Afghanistan has the shortest, lacking as it does any copyright regulations at all). And right now, every one of the 184 countries in Copyright Watch’s database is struggling to reform their regulations to fit the difficulties and opportunities of the digital age.It’s a real challenge to map all of these laws, and all of these changes. But it’s vital that we do so. Every shift in any of those countries might spread: whether it’s for good or ill, maximalist or reforming. Lawmakers eagerly look for track records in other nations, or are obliged to adopt another’s bad laws through treaty or trade agreement. Japan decides to model their new law’s exceptions on the United State’s broad fair use principles; politicians see France’s three strikes laws, and decide to import them wholesale. We’re hoping Copyright Watch will give the public as powerful a tool for monitoring the global copyright outlook as any private interest.
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/11/keeping-global-eye-copyright-law

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