Copyright Protection

CASBAA gave its latest views to the US Trade Representative, as USTR began its annual review of intellectual property policies and practices. Most of the situations in CASBAA's Asian markets have not radically changed, though the rise of online piracy is a growing concern as the region's broadband networks are built out.

British Member of Parliament Mike Weatherley looks back on his stint as an IP adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron and outlines his three-pronged strategy in winning the war against infringements Mike Weatherley says the turning point in his campaign against intellectual property rights infringement was the moment the British government decided to take him seriously about two years ago. "In the past two years the British government has made very welcoming progress," says Weatherley. "Overall I would give the government a 'B'. Not quite 'A' yet but getting there." The Conservative Party backbench parliamentarian – he was elected to his seat of Hove and Portslade on the southern coast only in 2010 – had previously been a businessman in the manufacturing and entertainment industries, two sectors that rely on a robust IP rights regime. David Cameron, who led the Conservative- dominated government elected in 2010, appointed Weatherley as IP adviser to the Prime Minister, a new position. "This was an important historic step, enabling progress in many specific areas." In true parliamentary tradition, Weatherley decided what was necessary was a report to give Cameron and his colleagues. The result was Search Engines, a private discussion paper released in May 2014. He...

During the CASBAA Convention 2014, Mike Weatherley MP, Conservative MP for Hove and Portslade, UK Parliament and Former Intellectual Property Advisor to the Prime Minister was featured in an In Conversation session discussing copyright protection. As the Intellectual Property Adviser to the UK Prime Minister, Weatherley is charged with leading the British government's efforts at fighting piracy and raising awareness of IPR. Formerly the Vice President (Europe) for the Motion Picture Licensing Company, Weatherley is bringing his media industry experience to bear on the piracy problem, raising awareness in innovative ways. To find out more about his viewpoints and recommendations, download a series of discussion papers drafted by Weatherly. Read an article on Weatherley's appearance "Creating a Front Line to Fight Battle for Intellectual Property"

The local and international television industries united this week in delivering a stark message to Hong Kong's Legislature: the rise of online piracy is already damaging jobs and investment in one of Asia's leading media hubs, and urgent legal and enforcement action is needed to restore some level of balance in a Copyright environment that has badly deteriorated. The messages came in a series of TV industry submissions to a legislative panel considering improvements to Hong Kong's Copyright Ordinance. The law has never been updated to take account of legal and illegal digital distribution of copyrighted materials, including individual programs, linear channel streams, and entire packages of pay-TV programming. CASBAA, in its submission, noted "The 10 years of delay in formulating...these amendments mean that online piracy problems have grown and changed far beyond the expectations of those who began this process, including both government and industry."

In early July, China's State Council Legislative Affairs Office published a new draft Copyright Law for public comment. Major provisions of the draft have been summarized by member company Hogan Lovells in a helpful English-language summary, which can be accessed through this web page.

A leading international expert in copyright law published a commentary on Hong Kong's proposed approach to user-generated content (UGC), in which he concludes that "to guarantee safe harmony with international treaties", the government is wise not to pursue a sweeping exception for UGC. Dr. Mihaly Ficsor is former Assistant Director (Copyright) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and his commentary can be found on the website of the Hong Kong Layer magazine, here. "Netizen" advocacy groups in Hong Kong used the recent public consultation on exceptions for parody and political commentary to demand exceptions for all user-generated content, and they continue to press their case in the Legislative Council. The HK government's legislative proposal rejected a sweeping exception and proposed more targeted exceptions to make sure there is no obstacle to parody and political commentary. Dr. Ficsor says this is the right approach: genuine parody is "a typical form of UGC creation" which deserves support through "fine-tuned exceptions", but "the concept of UGC is too broad and vague" and a broad exception will likely conflict with WIPO's own treaties and their "three-step test" for copyright exceptions. While netizens groups propose simple-sounding safeguards, they are frequently unworkable. Dr. Ficsor observes...

As in past years, CASBAA gave its views to the US Trade Representative as that organization began its annual review of intellectual property policies and practices around the world. Most of the situations in CASBAA's Asian markets have not radically changed, though the rise of online piracy is a growing concern as the region's broadband networks are built out. The submission expresses grave concern about development and export of Android-based pirate "black boxes" that make available whole bouquets of pay-TV programming, usually streamed from China to other markets in the region. On the good news side, it lauds the Indian government for its cable digitization policy, and notes that the Vietnamese government's liberalization of its pay-TV regulations in May 2013 has resulted in a smooth market situation there.

The Human Resources Ministry (which manages India’s WIPO participation) held a “Stakeholders’ Meeting” on March 21, 2013 to consult on India’s position for the upcoming meetings. CASBAA’s India representative and a few members of India’s broadcasting industry attended. They strongly advocated for India to abandon its insistence on excluding the internet from the treaty. Here are a few of the points they made: Given the rapid development and increasing maturity of India’s broadcasting industry, it is becoming a serious competitor in global entertainment markets. But to make this happen, its intellectual property must be protected. The government needs to take cognizance of this, and work actively to advance India’s real interests, by pressing forward on a treaty to provide global protection to broadcasting organizations. It is ridiculous to contemplate a treaty that does not include internet broadcasting. The internet is an essential tool for broadcasters in today’s world, and it is also the source of the lion’s share of copyright infringement. Developing-country broadcasters are trying to use the internet to reach out to consumers around the world. And of course this includes Indian broadcasters. Here in Asia, developing-country broadcasters distributing their channels by means of the internet come from China, India, Indonesia,...

In a landmark verdict delivered in early March, the European Court of Justice issued a very strong decision in support of the rights of broadcasters to control simultaneous relay (on the internet or otherwise) of their signals. CASBAA member ITV was one of the plaintiffs, and law firm Olswang acted for them. Under the ECJ decision, many third-party internet relay services and “catchup” TV services will be considered to violate broadcasters’ copyrights -- even where (i) the subscribers to the service could otherwise lawfully have received the broadcast on their television receivers; and (ii) the service may or may not be profit-making or competing with the original broadcaster. See an article and read the decision here.

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