Professors Organize Open Letter to the Colombian Legislature Regarding Lack of Balance In Copyright Law Reforms


CONTACT: Sean Flynn, (202) 294-5749

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 10, 2012 – On Monday, American University Washington College of Law Professors Peter Jaszi, Michael Carroll, and Sean Flynn organized and sent a letter to the Colombian legislature in response to what is perceived as a hurried process to implement the provisions of the U.S.- Colombia Free Trade Agreement through amendments to Colombian law that may not fully take into account the importance of balance in a healthy copyright system.

The letter was signed by nearly 70 international intellectual property academics and experts.

After reviewing the recently released Copyright reform bill in Colombia, the group of experts found that many of the changes from the new bill that upgrade protection for copyright go beyond what the FTA requires, and are therefore even more restrictive than U.S. law. The letter also states that Colombia’s legislators do not appear to be using the opportunity to recalibrate the balance between rights holders and other citizens by introducing flexible limitations and exceptions into national law, along with stronger safeguards for ownership.

View the full letter.

“What is happening in Colombia this week is emblematic of the pitfalls associated with entering and implementing trade agreements with the U.S. without sufficient attention to how unbalanced the norms in these documents are,” said Sean Flynn, associate director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University Washington College of Law. “U.S. trade policy on intellectual property is notoriously unbalanced. It seeks input almost exclusively from ‘big Hollywood’ content owners and ‘big Pharma’ brand name pharmaceutical companies. In their interests, U.S. trade agreements seek to export a set of strong U.S.-style proprietor rights. But these agreements do nothing to export U.S.-style limitations and flexibilities in intellectual property laws that benefit free expression, high technology innovation or generic competition."

"While the agreements do not ban flexibilities in intellectual property laws, nor do they promote it. As a result, if countries signing free trade agreements with the U.S. do nothing to update their IP laws except pass the FTA requirements into their local legislation, they will put in place highly unbalanced systems that will hamper their own economic growth and social welfare as well as the market opportunities for U.S. companies – like generic drug makers and internet service providers – whose business models rely on flexible intellectual property systems.”


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