WCL Professors Organize Letter on U.S.-Colombia FTA Implementation Bill

This morning, a letter organized by WCL professors Peter Jaszi, Michael Carroll and Sean Flynn, and signed by nearly 70 international intellectual property academics and experts, was sent to the Colombian legislature “in response to what we perceive 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 specifically notes that the group of experts reviewed the recently released Copyright reform bill in Colombia and “we find that many of the changes that upgrade protection for copyright go beyond what the FTA requires and are, in fact, more restrictive than U.S. law itself. Moreover, we note that Colombia’s legislators do not appear to be using this 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.”

The full letter is available at:


Sean Flynn, Associate Director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University Washington College of Law and one of the authors of the letter made the following statement:

“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. 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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