April 27, 2015

Get Up. Stand Up.

By Kelly Anderson and Brian Noyes

Individuals around the world have deep emotions about their music. Patients in every corner of the globe are being reached by new, life-saving cures. Technology is creating and delivering access to programs, software, and amazing games to thumbs on mobile devices everywhere. Great contributions to our society, culture and well-being are part of an innovative cycle that depends on many factors, one of which is intellectual property.

Each year, the World IP Organization (WIPO), a unit of the United Nations, sets aside April 26th to “promote discussion of the role of intellectual property in encouraging innovation and creativity.” In Washington, DC, the U.S. Chamber’s GIPC has also set aside this time to recognize the individuals and efforts that embody these contributions at the annual IP Champions event.

On April 20th, 2015, at the U.S. Chamber offices, WIPO’s top ranking American, John Sandage, was on hand to discuss the power of music for this year’s theme: “Get up, stand up. For Music.” As described by WIPO:

The music we enjoy today comes from the inspiration and hard work of thousands of creative people around the world – singers and songwriters; musicians and publishers; producers, arrangers, engineers, and many others. Its breadth and variety results from an unprecedented accessibility to musical genres and styles – all at the tap of a screen – that brings us new hybrid forms almost daily. And the technologies through which we access music change almost as quickly – as do the business models that support them.

Strong copyright protection underpins the creation of all of these creative works, both new and old. It seems particularly fitting that the theme of this year’s World IP Day focuses on music. Over the last year, countries around the world took steps to improve the copyright laws so critical to the creation and legal dissemination of musical creations.

The GIPC International IP Index provides a snapshot of some of the changes introduced in 2014. Take Singapore, for example. Singapore recently announced their intention to become the IP hub of Southeast Asia, and accordingly, took a number of steps to reach that goal. In July, Singapore passed amendments to the Copyright Act which created greater mechanisms to address sites hosting illicit content. Amendments like those passed in Singapore are critical to ensuring that musical works – and all forms of copyrighted content – are adequately protected online.

Not far from Singapore, the Indonesian government also introduced changes to the copyright laws in 2014. The new copyright act, which passed in September 2014, created a notification system giving the government the power to block copyright-infringing websites. The law also extended the copyright term of protection to 70 years, bringing Indonesian law in line with international best practices.

Half way around the world, the United States’ friendly neighbor to the north also took steps to improve copyright protection over the last year. Last May, Canada acceded to the WIPO Internet Treaties, which include key updates to copyright laws in the digital era. And just last week, the Canadian budget introduced provisions to extend the copyright term for sound records from 50 years to 70 years.

As we celebrate World IP Day, the GIPC is hopeful the global trend to strengthen copyright protection endures into the coming year. By introducing more robust copyright protections, countries will continue to get up, stand up for music – and all forms of copyrighted content – not just on April 26th, but for days well into the future.

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