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Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) over Internet

Our special guest was James. James is an Economic Officer at the American Institute in Taiwan, reponsible for Trade issues, including IPR. James has lived in Taiwan for more than one year.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) over Internet
Tuesday, April 27 2004 (2:00 PM - 3:00 PM)

Please note: Portions of this transcript have been edited for clarity

Moderator:

Dear All, Welcome to join our program today. James will be our speaker today. Today's topic is "IPR over Internet". Please ask program-related questions. Our speaker will try his best to answer your questions. Due to the limitation of the time, we might not be able to answer all of your questions.

 

Host: (James)

It is my pleasure to be here today to discuss the importance of intellectual property rights, and particularly the importance of these rights in the development of a prosperous Taiwan. By way of introduction, I am an Economic Officer at the American Institute in Taiwan, reponsible for Trade issues, including IPR. I have had the pleasure of living here in Taiwan for more than one year.

 

 


Start of Chat


 

Host: (James)
Q
What can be patented? Can we patent any things?
A
Thanks for your question. Patents are a way of protecting our creations so that those inventors or developers can benefit from their efforts. When we talk about patents, we are usually talking about "things". Inventions can be patented, for example, a new kind of television screen that lets you see colors more clearly. Processes can also be patented, for example, if you were to invent a new method of seperating genes for medical research you could apply for a patent. Other things, like music or movies can't be patented, but they are protected by copyrights. Famous marks can be protected by trademarks, for example, Gucci bags. (2004-04-27 14:13)
 
Host: (James)
Q
Christine: Does special 301 is a kind of punishment for countries not follow copy right law.
A
This question is very timely! The US Trade Representative Office each year publishes a list of economies that do not provide strong protections for intellectual property. It is not a punishment of any kind, there are no punitive actions taken. But it is a public statement that certain places have problems protecting intellectual property. The Special 301 List is divided into several catagories: Watch List, Priority Watch List, etc. Taiwan as been listed on the Priority Watch List for the past few years and the US government has been actively encouraging Taiwan to make improvements in its intellectual property protection environment. (2004-04-27 14:17)
 
Host: (James)
Q
Audrey: Does regular copyright law applied to internet?
A
Copyright law applies to the content of the internet. For example, you could copyright your own web page, so that other people couldn’t copy the style or the special things you have there. Information that is copyrighted also cannot legally be freely exchanged over the internet. No matter whether that information is on line or in a hard copy, it is still protected by copyright. (2004-04-27 14:19)
 
Host: (James)
Q
Iris.Yao: Mr. Jim:Could you introduce the legal process in US if one wants to agaist other's tort of patent right?
A
Well, actually, Iris, I am not an IP Lawyer, so I cannot really comment definitively. But I can say that generally the process would likely involve obtaining a court order asking the alleged violator to desist. If there is a dispute, the US Patent and Trademark Office can rule whether a product or a procedure is protected by patent. (2004-04-27 14:22)
 
Host: (James)
Q
Gigi: Can a teacher uses anything on the web for his/her class? Is this fairuse?
A
It depends on how it is used. For example, using a website to download information to prepare for a class would be acceptable fair use. Copying a newspaper article for distribution to the class, also would normally be covered by fair use. Downloading and copying an entire book, would not be fair use. And of course, anything being downloaded and then exchanged for money would not be fair use. (2004-04-27 14:25)
 
Host: (James)
Q
Audrey: Can we download good pictures from other web sites, and use on our own web page?
A
Normally, the photographer or the creator of the picture won't mind if you place his or her work on your website. They may even be happy! But they retain the legal right to benefit from their work. That means if they were to ask you to take it down, you should do so. If not, you could potentially be violating the law. (2004-04-27 14:27)
 
Host: (James)
Q
Little cat: Can music used in school for educational furtherance?
A
Do your teachers know you are listening to music in class? Just kidding! It depends on what kind of music we are talking about. If the music recording is purchased legally, yes, normally this will fall under the general concept of fair use. But downloading copyrighted materials, including music or movies, from the internet, even for "educational furtherance" would normally violate copyright laws. Better to purchase the CD, or use a legal download service. (2004-04-27 14:31)
 
Host: (James)
Q
Iris Peng: My company is a e-learning content provider of semicondutor procsee, can we registration for some patent?
A
I don't know. It depends on what new product or process you have developed. You may want to contact the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office to find if someone has already registered your idea. (2004-04-27 14:32)
 
Host: (James)
Q
Iris.Yao: Are there any web-site that I can find or search laws or rules related to IP(including patent)?
A
If you are interested in searching for patent info for Taiwan I would recommend TIPO's website. I'm afraid I don't have the address with me. The other place might be the US Library of Congress, they should also have information on patent related laws in the US. Finally, I would look at the US Patent and Trademark Office website for additional information. (2004-04-27 14:35)
 
Host: (James)
Q
christine: For films or VCRs, does films/VCRs with educational rights can be showed at all kinds of places but for educational purpose, not commercial purpose.
A
Now we are getting into some gray areas. Normally, fair use provisions protect limited copying or exhibition for educational purposes -- we earlier used the example of newpaper clippings in class. Normally, legally purchased films or video tapes include prohibitions against public exhibition, although those rights can usually be secured for a nominal fee from the distributing company. Showing a work for a commercial purpose, charging any kind of admission or using images in advertisements or the like would clearly be prohibited. (2004-04-27 14:39)
 
Host: (James)
Q
Gigi: The Internet is like a global village. If I use something from a foreign website for profit, am I going to be in trouble? Can they suit me from their country?
A
You could be in trouble! The copyright holder could sue you here in Taiwan, even if they are living in a foreign country. Better be careful and get permission first! (2004-04-27 14:40)
 
Host: (James)
Q
chang,chung-Hsin: In his new release book "Free Culture", Professor Lawrence Lessig argues that the content industry only focuses on anti-piracy and destroys creativity and free culture. He also thinks the anti-circumvention regulations of the DMCA restricts constitutional fair use privilege and the extension of copyright term hurts public interests. He reminds us that regulation makes sense where it does more good than harm. Do you agree that the US IP laws do more harm than good? Or what should we do for the public interests or free culture with IP laws ?
A
Professor Chang, you have gone straight to the heart of the intellectual property debate. Dr. Lessig is well known for his criticisms of some intellectual property protections. There are several interests at stake that need to be considered. But I believe the US IP laws are in place to protect those creative artists, scientists, authors, and inventors who devote years of their lives and sometimes millions of dollars to creating something that benefits mankind. Without some kind of protection for their work, it is unlikely that they will be willing to devote so much time, energy and money to the development of these new works. That includes new medicines, new music, new ways of making computer chips, or new art. There is a balance to be struck. But free trading of intellectual property is not helpful for anyone. (2004-04-27 14:46)
 
Host: (James)
Q
What are trademarks and service marks?
A
Trademarks and service marks are identifying marks and brands that allow consumers to have some confidence that a product is what is appears to be. They are also a way for producers of these goods to differentiate their products in the market. (2004-04-27 14:48)
 
Host: (James)
Q
william: I paid money for downloading mp3 music from a commercial web site. If songs/music from that web site are not copyright materials, do I violate copyright law? or just the web site violate the law?
A
If the materials you are downloading are NOT copyrighted materials, then you are not violating any law. If they ARE copyrighted materials, then it depends on who is getting the money you paid! If the rightsholders are not getting the money, then you are violating the law. There are some services that allow you to pay a fee to download music -- iTunes in the US for example -- these are legal because they have agreed to pay the rightsholders royalties for their work. Others, like Kuro or EZPeer, do not work in the same way. Users of these services are violating copyright laws. (2004-04-27 14:53)
 
Host: (James)
Q
nknumartin: Q: I think IPR in Taiwan has been well protected, but there seems to be abuse of IPR in mainland China. Will you take some step to stop the abuse?
A
The US is currently discussing with the Chinese government ways in which they can improve their IP protection. I am sure you have seen in the news the recent reports of Chinese commitments to improve enforcement. We will see what they actually do. Taiwan's IP protection situation has been getting better over the past year or so, but there are still a lot of things Taiwan could do to improve things here. (2004-04-27 14:55)
 
Host: (James)
Q
william: can I borrow my friend's software for testing purpose only?
A
Not sure if I understand the question -- if you are just testing to see if your computer will run that kind of software before you go out and buy it -- well, probably OK. (2004-04-27 14:57)
 
Host: (James)
Q
nknu_lulomi: KURO is the popular MP3 download websit, people pay money, and get the songs they want. is this against the copyright?
A
Kuro's service violates copyright law because their service allows people to access copyrighted works on other member's computers and then copy them. The artist gets no royalties from this kind of trading, they get no benfit for all of their creativity and hard work. I know that there are a lot of Kuro members in Taiwan, but unfortunately, almost all of the traded content on Kuro violates copyrights. Kuro has been indicted, and the case against them is currently in process. Users of similar kinds of services in the US have also faced civil suits. (2004-04-27 15:00)
 
Host: (James)
Q
nknu_zoe: hi ,Jim To what extent can students copy books that they use for study only? Question from nknu-ann: Many university students copy textbooks printed in U.S.A. Do you take any measures to prevent that kind of case?
A
Many U. students copy text books as a way to save money. Unfortunately, this is also a copyright violation, because the author isn't allowed to benefit from all his or her hard work. The Taiwan government is working to discourage this kind of illegal copying, but we all know it is still very common. (2004-04-27 15:03)
 
Host: (James)
Q
Gigi: If a country chooses not to comply with the copyright laws, what will happen to the country?
A
That country will face international condemnation, not only by the US but also by others. In some cases, there may be some sanctions imposed. If the country is a WTO member, others could use that body to take action. But the greatest impact will be in investment and business in that country. Businesses and investors want to know that their property, including intellectual property, will be protected. Not doing so will be a big disincentive to attracting new investment and the latest technology to that country. (2004-04-27 15:06)
 
Host: (James)
Q
nknu_jenny: The objective of IPR is to maximize economic growth, but are we striking the right balance in our protection of IPR? Companies are constantly producing items to which no one holds any exclusive patent. Is it credible that authors will not be motivated to write unless they are given copyright protection?
A
There are clearly differencfes of opinion over where the right balance lies -- 20 years ago IP protection was much different than it is today, in 20 years it is likely to be different from now. But it is clear that many in the creative industries would not be able to afford to produce their works without the promise of some ability to benefit from their investment of time, energy, and money. Lord of the Rings wouldn't have been made if there was no possibility of at least recouping the hundreds of millions of dollars spent to make it. Many drugs couldn't be created without the promise of patent protection so investors can benefit. Sure, some committed artists would write and sing for the joy of it (I do!) but we would miss out on so much! (2004-04-27 15:11)
 
Host: (James)
Q
nknu_jadelee: In academics, IP has been considered an important issue. Plagiarism, or citing refereneces without acknowleding the original sources will be considered an act violating academic integrity, which will seriously undermine your scores or your profession.
A
Dr. Lee, this is very true. Using the internet as a resource is very valuable. But using the internet to copy others works and pass them off as your own is dishonest and damaging to your reputation. There are several examples of journalists and academics whose careers were ruined by plagerism. (2004-04-27 15:14)
 
Host: (James)
Q
nknu_jenny: {To Jim} Those P2P download systems like Kazaa and Napster provide only a medium for people to share files, legally or illegally obtained files. Can our government, or any government, interdict those by fining the website designers? And if it is the people who actually downloaded those files who should take the blame, could anyone ever locate them since the system is connected P2P?
A
It is true that these P2P systems are platforms, they may not have any infringing materials on their own servers. But they can take steps to restrict the illegal use of their service -- that is, they can take measures to prevent people from swapping copyrighted materials. The P2P services know who their members are and could cut them off the system, for example. We shouldn't blame the technology. But those who use and administer the technology have the responsibility to make sure it is used for legal purposes. (2004-04-27 15:18)


End of Chat


 

 

Host: (James)

I understand that is all the questions we have time to answer this afternoon. I'd like to thank everyone who has participated and I apologize that I cannot type fast enough to answer every question! I hope that you will all consider the intellectual property issues as you purchase software, music, movies, branded goods or other products. I want to thank the American Cultural Center for organizing this webchat and I hope you will all continue to support their fine programs! Xiexie!.