[Ip-health] Statement, IP Expert Letter to Colombia

Sean Flynn sflynn at wcl.american.edu
Mon Apr 9 11:14:44 PDT 2012

This morning a group of nearly 70 international intellectual property
academics and experts wrote 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


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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