International Developments 

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International Developments

     While the European Union started this sad game of extending the copyright terms, not all countries have yet followed their very poor example.  Japan, Canada, and Australia remain under a life + 50 system.  However, it now appears that, pushed by U.S. trade negotiators, the Australians are about to capitulate, and it is likely that Japan will follow suit.  This page contains some links to developments in these and other countries that are considering extending their copyright terms.

  U.S. Pushes Australia to Adopt a Life + 70 System

     News reports concerning a new U.S./Australian free-trade agreement indicate that the U.S. successfully insisted on including a copyright term extension in Australia.  See Office of the United States Trade Representative, Free Trade "Down Under," Summary of the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Feb. 8, 2004.  It is yet another example of how the protectionist forces operate.  These trade agreements are negotiated behind close doors, with little if any public input.  The Australian government has sacrificed the long-term interests of its own people in vibrant cultural development to obtain short-term trade advantages (because the longer copyright term will still be in place after the entire world goes to a true free-trade regime).  See Australian National University Media Release, Trade Deal Extends Powers of Dead Authors, Feb. 10, 2004, quoting the remarks of Law Lecturer Dr. Matthew Rimmer.

  Canadians going down the same road?  

     Legislation has been introduced in the Canadian Parliament to extend the term of copyright protection for previously unpublished works - a term that was itself extended just a few years ago.  What Mickey Mouse is to the United States, Anne of Green Gables is to Canada, so the unpublished works of its author, Lucy Maud Montgomery (who died in 1942) continue to have economic value.  Historical research is likely to be severely impeded if this law is adopted.  Here are a few links:  Mouse in the House, a National Post article by Howard Knopf; Estates' rights in Canadian copyright re-examined, a Globe and Mail article dated Sept. 23, 2003 by James Adams (describing attempts to derail the statute); An analysis of the impact of the bill on public archives; and an incomplete directory of historical figures whose works will be removed from the public domain by the bill.