Those who can, teach; those who can't, infringe?

The IPKat has received a hot piece of copyright ownership news from his learned friend Sharon Kaplan (who is currently reading for the degree of LLM at UCL). Sharon writes:

"In a decision of the Israeli Supreme Court (16 January 2006), Case 8117/03 Inbar v Jacob, it was held that a textbook published by a student infringed the lecturer's copyright in his university lectures. Jacob lectured in Tort Law; Inbar, a former student of his, published a legal textbook on tort law a few years after graduation. from law school. Jacob sued for copyright infringement, claiming that substantial portions of the textbook were copied form his lectures. The copying was reflected, he alleged, in the structure of the textbook, the manner in which various ideas were expressed and analysed, the use of examples that were given by the lecturer and so on. Inbar denied the allegations and argued, inter alia, that the textbook was based on general ideas in tort law which were in the public domain, and that he only used the general knowledge acquired by him during his studies.

The Tel-Aviv District Court accepted the lecturer's claim and found copyright infringement. The student's appeal to the Supreme Court has now been dismissed. According to that Court (whose judgment was given by Justice Naor)

* university lectures are subject to copyright protection even though they are not explicitly listed in the definition of "literary work" in the Israeli Copyright Law.

* the question whether lectures, orally delivered, are protected even if they are not fixed (i.e., documented) was left open, since in the specific case the lectures were indeed fixed, both by the lecturer and by his students in their classes;

* there was a 'distinguishable similarity' between the lectures and the textbook (including in the structure of the two works, the literal expression of ideas and the examples used);

* substantial parts of the lectures had been copied into the textbook.

The Supreme Court however emphasised that a student is entitled to use ideas included in the lectures as well as the methodologies he acquires; he is not however entitled to use the specific manner of expression used by the lecturer. The Court cited the old English case of Nicols v Pitman (1884) 2 Ch 374:

"…where a lecture of this kind is delivered to an audience… the understanding between the lecturer and the audience is that whether the lecture has been committed to writing beforehand or not the audience are quite at liberty to take the fullest notes they like for their own personal purposes, but they are not at liberty, having taken those notes, to use them afterwards for the purpose of publishing the lecture for profit. That is the ground upon which I am going to decide this case".

The IPKat says thanks, Sharon, for letting him know about this. Since both the IPKat's blogmeisters do quite a lot of lecturing, they are glad to know that lecturer's copyright is respected (even if the lecture sometimes isn't ...). He adds that the lengthy decision of the Tel-Aviv District Court (procured for him by Gadi Oron) is shortly to be reported in Sweet & Maxwell's European Copyright and Design Reports. Merpel comments, I'd expect a law student to know better than to try a stunt like this.

Footnote: the successful lecturer was represented by Avi Ordo and Sharon Kaplan herself (for S. Horowitz & Co).

Who is PIIPA?

The older part of the IPKat has been active in IP since the 1970s and is rarely startled by acronyms these days. However, he was asked yesterday to respond to a survey request from PIIPA, which was a new one on him. PIIPA turned out to be 'Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors', who wrote:
"We are writing to ask you to complete a survey assessing the world-wide need for intellectual property (IP) services in developing countries, in particular for pro bono (no or low cost) professional services. Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors is distributing the PIIPA Survey by email and mail to respondents around the world, in governmental and non-governmental organizations, universities, and industry. If you received the 2005 PIIPA Survey and have completed it, please disregard this message. You have been selected based on your past experience and affiliations. By participating in this survey, you can help direct assistance to where it is most needed.

We ask that you complete the survey yourself and/or forward to other individuals inside or outside your organization as soon as possible but no later than February 15, 2006. The 2006 PIIPA Survey contains 17 questions, and will only take about 5 minutes to complete. The results of the PIIPA Survey will be presented internationally".
The email is signed by Steven C. Price, CEO/President PIIPA (left).

The IPKat notes that PIIPA describes itself as an international non-profit organization that makes intellectual property counsel available for developing countries and public interest organisations who seek to promote health, agriculture, biodiversity, science, culture, and the environment. The organisation apparently has three main activities:
* expanding a worldwide network of IP professional volunteers (the IP Corps);

* operating a processing centre where assistance seekers can apply to find individual volunteers or teams who can provide advice and representation as a public service (free or pro bono) and

* building a resource center with information for professionals and those seeking assistance.
This all sounds tremendously commendable, but the IPKat - like all kats - is always a little circumspect - not to say suspicious - when it comes to new players in the IP game, however laudable their stated aims. Accordingly he asks his readers if they can answer any the following questions:

1. Where does PIIPA get its backing from, financially and politically?

2. What is PIIPA's standing with WIPO, WTO and other international organisations that take an active part in IP matters?

3. Whatever happened to PIIPA's 2005 Survey - and to what use will the 2006 Survey be put?

4. Has any reader actively benefited from any PIIPA activity, or does anyone know of someone who has?

Please just post your comments below or email the IPKat here. Perhaps we can all learn something ...

1 comment:

  1. Lecturers can also breach copyright. In my student days certain lecturers read large portions of published works from their notes. One lady lecturing on thermodynamics read direct from a standard textbook on the subject and showed slides made from the illustrations.


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