Israel Hits Back On Charges From US Lobbyists That It Doesn't Respect Copyright

from the don't-believe-the-hype dept

Every February, a US lobbying group called the International Intellectual Property Alliance comes out with a "report" to the US Trade Representative, supposedly highlighting which countries aren't living up to their obligations with regards to "piracy" and copyright law. The hope is to get the USTR to put that country on a special watch list. In recent years, much of the focus has been on blaming countries that don't implement draconian copyright laws (even more draconian than those in place in the US), claiming incorrectly that failing to create DMCA-like laws is a failure to live up to international treaties. That's simply not true. Michael Geist is now pointing out that Israel, who was highlighted in this year's report, has responded to the "inaccuracies and hyperbole" in the report. The Israeli response includes a rather lengthy discussion of all the things the country has already done to put in place more American-style copyright and patent laws, but does push back on a couple of important points. Specifically, in discussing the fact that it hasn't put in place DMCA-style anti-circumvention laws for DRM (which is referred to as "Technology Protection Measures" or TPM):
Internal discussions on whether to implement TPM continue and in this respect the GOI [Government of Israel] notes that the experience with TPM around the world has not been uniform, nor has it achieved the results that many of its early promoters thought it would. Additionally, comments received by the Ministry of Justice following a "request" for comments on the subject of TPM, indicate that many several large authors' groups vehemently oppose TPM, while other right holders categories favor TPM. The critiques and criticism of TPM both from business model perspectives and from copyright perspectives are almost endless. Indeed, some content providers are already experimenting with non-encrypted access to content. Hence, the question of whether and in what manner to implement TPM is not straightforward and politically volatile.
Given that so many in the entertainment industry are (belatedly) realizing the pointlessness of DRM, the above paragraph is rather restrained. The response then pushes back on complaints that the safe harbors for ISPs and notice-and-takedown provisions it has for infringing content online are too lenient. In the US system, an ISP is supposed to just take the content down when informed of infringement. Israel decided on a much more balanced system that gives the other side at least a chance to respond. This seems reasonable, but it doesn't make the content industry happy. The explanation from the Israeli government is worth reading:
The notice and takedown provisions are balanced and reasonable as between the rights of persons claiming injury (copyright or libel for example) and the rights of free expression. Where allegedly infringing material is notified to the ISP or host and the uploader fails to refute the charges within three days, the offending material will be removed. The IIPA, it appears, prefers a system wherein ISPs and hosts would have to take down material as soon as there is an allegation of infringement, without need for due process or rebuttal. A "takedown" system which operates on the basis of a mere allegation of infringement would be an invitation to censorship and abuse of process. To require "take down" on the basis of "constructive notice" alone, as desired by the IIPA, would require the ISP or Host to make rulings of law as to whether certain content infringes copyright or is libelous or otherwise actionable, something that only courts have competency to do. Again to require takedown on the basis of "constructive notice" (i.e. the allegation of an interested party) alone would be an invitation to censorship, abuse and restraints on free speech. It is not the role of the ISP or Host to become a policeman of content. Requiring such would effectively bring the internet to a halt. Similarly, protecting the anonymity, to a reasonable extent, of uploaders of content is essential to the promotion of free speech and discourse on the internet, provided that a court has not ruled differently.
There's also a nice bit in the response to the claim that Israel's latest copyright law does not implement a "fair use" policy exactly the way the IIPA would like it. The Israeli government's basic response notes that even the US's own definition of fair use doesn't match what the IIPA is asking Israel to implement, pointing out that its own fair use rules are almost identical to the US's. It's nice to see at least some people pointing out the ridiculous claims made by lobbyists trying to push for even more draconian and limiting copyright laws outside the US.
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Filed Under: copyright, drm, fair use, international intellectual property alliance, israel, takedown, us trade representative


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  1. identicon
    Tack, 21 Mar 2008 @ 1:33pm

    We don't own Israel

    In response to Wolf and others who are like minded, I should point out that Israel is a soverign nation. The fact that the US (and I'm from Alabama and am somewhat agnostic, so don't start throwing out Canadian or Muslim insults at me) has chosen to voluntarily give Israel trillions of dollars worth of weaponry and training and even lend them troops does not somehow make Israel indebted to us. America chooses to help Israel out of a sort of awkward sense of charity, not because we expect them to be out lap dog and roll over for us on command. Any belief you may have to the contrary is, at best, bullshit.

    If anything, with all the money and weaponry we have given them, Israel is one of the few nations in the world that poses a serious threat to the US should relations between our companies ever degrade. They have almost all the major weapons systems we have and as such can not only shoot us with our own guns and ammo but can even shoot us with versions of our own guns and ammo that they have modified and improved to a point that an Israeli soldier would sooner wield a swiss army knife than use an M16 in combat. No other country on earth has access to modern spy satellites or advanced missile systems such as MLRS systems or Tomahawks to the extent that we do but Israel may be the closest to us in that regard. Hell, they are even within quick strike distance of every major oil field we have (which would be the ones in Iraq right now) and probably have the political finesse to napalm the port used to ship that oil and then say it was an accident, badly crippling our economy in the process, and that is something no other country on earth can do.

    In short Israel is our greatest ally at the moment but to say that they somehow owe us is bullshit. The saying "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" is only half of the wrote. The other half is "so your friends can be sure your enemies don't harm you." It's a quote from a lesson taught by school teachers in the 1800s, mostly in America, as a moral lesson to be drawn from the story of the murder of Julius Caesar, and though it's a good lesson, I think there's a better lesson we can draw from this. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer so long as you're certain you can tell the difference, because if someone you think is your friend turns out to be your enemy then nothing is left to protect you from your enemy. The same theory applies to Israel. As long as Israel remains happy and we don't do anything to piss them off, that's fine, but if we ever do something that really, truly make them angry then we will come to find out Israel will be the worst enemy America could ever face.

    Wolf, Comments like yours do nothing but show your true ignorance, and I for one am ashamed that other people from my country, a country built by people who were persecuted by others in Europe who felt we owed them something in exchange for the land we ourselves colonized and exercised that something from us for 30 years in the form of heavy taxes and quartering British troops, would make such a God damn ignorant comment. As I said I am agnostic but you sir deserve to burn in hell more than any Jew or Muslim that ever has existed or ever will, even if hell does exist, which I'm still not sure of. Perhaps your comment was a joke and I apologize if it was, but if you seriously meant what you said then perhaps you are the one who needs to shut the f**k up.

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