Now that we’re post SOPA/PIPA (for now), it’s important to develop a larger framework for how intellectual property law can best serve the public ends of maximizing innovation and enriching our common culture.  Last August, we helped organize a Global Congress to do just that.  The result was the “Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest.”

What’s in it?  A lot of it is pretty obvious stuff, such as: policymaking shouldn’t be secret!  And, take evidentiary standards seriously!  Some of it is fairly technical, such as defending the first sale principle across borders to facilitate parallel importation.  Not all of it is completely settled or specified–150 people contributed to  this and we tried to do justice to their disagreements as well as agreements. The point is, it’s a very good place to start a larger conversation about how to make intellectual property law serve public ends–in both national and international law.  If that matters to you, please give it a read and consider signing!

Here are a few highlights:

  • Respect the rights to due process and a fair trial in the face of rapidly escalating intellectual property enforcement measures. We must insist on the provision of adequate evidentiary thresholds, fair hearings, impartial adjudicators, rights to submit evidence and confront accusers, proportionality in penalties and strict scrutiny of public enforcement responsibilities delegated to private actors.
  • Advocate for a permanent moratorium on further extensions of copyright, related rights and patent terms.
  • Promote limitations and exceptions [to copyright] that enable libraries, museums, archives and other “institutions of memory” to fulfill their public interest missions, while assuring that cultural and educational institutions take advantage of existing flexibilities.
  • Dedicate public resources to non-patent-based incentive models, such as prizes for innovation, especially in areas where patent incentives have proved weak, such as for research on neglected diseases and the provision of cost-effective access to medicines in developing countries.
  • Ensure that inventions that result from publicly funded research are available for public use.
  • Require greater transparency, accountability, internal democracy and public oversight on the part of collective rights management organizations. [so that creators get paid]
  • Limit the duties, rights, or abilities of Internet service providers to monitor or control the communications of their users based on the content of these communications.
  • Support the values of interoperability and long-term preservation by requiring use of open standards for information produced by or for public entities.