Keeping an eye on “Copyright Watch”

November 16, 2009
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The beta version of Copyright Watch was launched recently. The site gives users an overview of national copyright law in various countries across the globe. Each entry on Copyright Watch gives a brief overview of the geographic location and borders of the country, whether the country is a member of supranational organizations like the World Intellectual Property Organization or WTO, and currently only a few links to the legal documents which outline recent proposals or changes to national copyright law. Some entries include a link titled “local copyright monitor”. At a glance, the local copyright monitor tends to be an expert or organization that plays a role in commenting or keeping track of recent policy and legal changes or trends in the realm of intellectual property. For example, under the United States entry, the local monitor is recorded as the Electronic Frontier Foundation IP Team.

The site is run by members of the Access to Knowledge community but seems to allow for users to share information about national copyright law on the site once the comments and links are reviewed and approved by the administrators. Copyright Watch seems like it could become a useful resource for gaining an overview of current national IP policies once more information is added to the respective countries. At present, the site reads like a series of Wikipedia stubs but as the project develops hopefully the creators will focus on past law as well as present. Tracing the evolution of “the rules” and linking them to particular temporal, social, technological, and national contexts, which is no doubt equally important to understanding the end point and how we got there.

Though too early to tell, this could be a great resource. Yet, the dealbreaker might actually be the gatekeeping system, who desires to participate, and who actually gets to. In any case, it’s worth watching.


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