The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Phone: 415-436-9333 x177,Email:,

Keeping a Global Eye on Copyright Law

Announcement by Danny O'Brien


We spend a lot of our time at EFF trying to spot new proposals in
copyright across the world, and understanding whether they're good or
bad for civil liberties. We're not the only ones: our understanding
depends on the work of hundreds of researchers worldwide who are
constantly sifting through new drafts and consolidating older reforms
in hundreds of nations.

It's a global effort, and that's why we're happy to announce our involvement in a truly global project: Copyright Watch. Working with academics, libraries and copyright monitors
from across the world, Copyright Watch brings together the most recent
copies of laws from as many countries as we could find. And with that
global team, we'll be tracking new proposals, consultations, and
freshly passed regulations: finding the promising changes, and
highlighting the spectacularly bad ideas hopefully before they can take

A single country's copyright law can be truly byzantine (the United States' seems to be the longest at around 130,000 words, although we're pretty sure Afghanistan
has the shortest, lacking as it does any copyright regulations at all).
And right now, every one of the 184 countries in Copyright Watch's
database is struggling to reform their regulations to fit the
difficulties and opportunities of the digital age.

It's a real challenge to map all of these laws, and all of these
changes. But it's vital that we do so. Every shift in any of those
countries might spread: whether it's for good or ill, maximalist or
reforming. Lawmakers eagerly look for track records in other nations,
or are obliged to adopt another's bad laws through treaty or trade
agreement. Japan decides to model their new law's exceptions on the
United State's broad fair use principles; politicians see France's
three strikes laws, and decide to import them wholesale. We're hoping
Copyright Watch will give the public as powerful a tool for monitoring
the global copyright outlook as any private interest.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. EFF's mission is to ensure that technology supports freedom, justice, and innovation for all people of the world.

(415) 436-9333