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[liberationtech] pre-textual IP enforcement internationally?

David Rizk drizk at
Sat Apr 16 15:08:44 PDT 2011

Hey there liberation-techies, 

I'm curious whether you can help me think of some cases in which pre-textual or bogus intellectual property claims were advanced, either by a private party or by a government, for some improper motives, outside of the U.S.?

By "improper motive," I mean, for example, asserting sham IP infringement claims for the purpose of invading another's privacy, chilling or censoring political or social speech or activities, or for the purpose of improperly interfering with legitimate competition or innovation, among other things. The Russian government's recent use of Microsoft piracy as a pretext to harass environmental groups is a pretty good offline example (see the NY Times article here), but I'm especially interested in cases involving IP online or claims or takedown notices directed at online intermediaries. 

As many of you know, the potential chilling effect of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act's notice-and-takedown regime has long concerned American civil libertarians, and I'm basically interested in whether the same phenomena is being observed internationally. I've noticed, however, that IP enforcement is not much discussed in the publications of the Open Net Initiative, or by others studying filtering. Some folks on this list have touched upon the issue, but I have not found any extensive treatment of the issue. Why is this? In addition to examples, I would like to invite, more broadly, a discussion of why IP has or has not proven to be an effective tool for filtering and/or coercion -- a topic that I believe has not been much discussed on this list to date. 

My own initial feeling is that DMCA takedown notices have proven to be a very tempting tool for abuse in the U.S., and I worry that, as repressive regimes become more sophisticated about IP law and Internet filtering, abusive or bogus IP enforcement could prove to be an attractive alternative to less ambiguous forms of filtering or coercion. Alleging IP infringement provides at least a guise of legitimacy, and it will be difficult for the U.S. and its allies to cry foul on human rights or other grounds if they are simultaneous pushing for more aggressive IP enforcement worldwide in the form of new trade agreements, etc. Thoughts?

Thanks in advance, David

David Wade Rizk
Stanford Law School
drizk at

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