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ALA signs trade policy principles by SamshoeToday ALA signed the Washington Principles on Copyright Balance in Trade Agreements, joining over 70 international copyright experts, think tanks and public interest groups. The Principles address the need for balanced copyright policy in trade agreements.

Over the years, trade policies have increasingly implicated copyright and other IP laws, sometimes creating international trade policies that conflict with U.S. copyright law by enforcing existing rights holder interests without considering the interests of new industry entrants and user rights to information. U.S. copyright law is exemplary in promoting innovation, creativity and information sector industries—software, computer design, research—because of fair use, safe harbor provisions, and other exceptions and limitations lacking in other countries.

The Principles were developed at a convening of U.S., Canadian and Mexican law professor and policy experts held by American University Washington College of Law’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP). These three countries are currently engaged in NAFTA negotiations

The Washington Principles:
• Protect and promote copyright balance, including fair use
• Provide technology-enabling exceptions, such as for search engines and text- and data-mining
• Require safe harbor provisions to protect online platforms from users’ infringement
• Ensure legitimate exceptions for anti-circumvention, such as documentary filmmaking, cybersecurity research, and allowing assistive reading technologies for the blind
• Adhere to existing multilateral commitments on copyright term
• Guarantee proportionality and due process in copyright enforcement

The Principles are supplemented by “Measuring the Impact of Copyright Balance,” new research from the American University that finds that balanced copyright policies in foreign countries have a positive effect on the information sector industries in terms of net income and total sales and in the local production of creative and scholarly works and other high-quality output. These positive effects, however, do not harm the revenues of traditional content and entertainment industries. This suggests that industry, creativity and research are more likely to thrive under more open user rights policies that allow for experimentation and transformative use.

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Carrie Russell

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