What is Copyright Watch?

The details of copyright law used to be important for only a few in the creative industries. Now, with the growth of the Internet, we are all authors, publishers, and sharers of copyrighted works.

Our dream was to build a user-friendly resource of national copyright laws to help citizens of the world undertake comparative research. We wanted to raise awareness of the importance of balanced copyright law in the information society, and draw attention to points of commonality and of difference in countries' laws and legal traditions. We also wanted to create an information sharing resource, where copyright watchers could post information about proposed amendments to their own copyright laws, and understand the changes in others.

We hope that Copyright Watch will be a resource maintained and driven by the Access to Knowledge community and that copyright monitors in each country will help to keep this information up to date and relevant.

Finally, we hope that Copyright Watch will help document the importance of copyright to all aspects of cultural life and human freedom. Balanced and well-calibrated copyright laws are extremely important in our global information society. The smallest shift in the legal balance between the rights of copyright owners and users of copyrighted knowledge can destroy or enable business models, criminalize or liberate everyday behaviour, and transform or eradicate new technology. A law that is passed in one nation can quickly be taken up by others, through bilateral trade agreements, regional policy initiatives or international treaties. We all need to keep watch.

Who Are We?

Copyright Watch was begun by an international group of copyright experts, drawn from the Access to Knowledge community. We’d like to thank Corporacion Innovarte, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Information for Libraries (eIFL.net), the International Federation of Library Associations, Professor Michael Geist, the Third World Network, and the Bangalore Centre for Internet and Society for their support.

Content Research was done by: Teresa Hackett and Isabel Bernal (eIFL.net), Matt Earp (Electronic Frontier Foundation consultant), and Professor Kenneth Crews at the Copyright Advisory Office, Columbia University. Technical Design and ongoing support is provided by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Funding to create Copyright Watch was generously provided by the Open Society Institute.