Welcome To AFTA

The American Free Trade Association (AFTA) has provided a voice to the secondary marketplace for over 30 years.  AFTA works with industry, legislative leaders, regulatory officials and coalition members to ensure that genuine, branded consumer products are lawfully distributed across borders, providing American consumers with greater access to cost-effective, safe and authentic merchandise.

AFTA Submits Comments on Copyright Reform to Department of Commerce

The American Free Trade Association has submitted its comments to the Department of Commerce in anticipation of its hearing on December 12, 2013 on copyright reform.  You can read a copy of these comments here: aftacommentsoncopyrightreformfinal

2013 has been the year for copyright reform….well, at least its been the year during which there has been a lot of talk about copyright reform.  YOU need to pay attention because any attempt to change, amend, alter, expand, clarify or otherwise reform U.S. Copyright law will absolutely impact you and your business.

Any component of a finished product, whether electronic, digital or printed on old fashioned paper stock, may be governed by U.S. copyright law whether or not it is material to the operation or function of that article.  We first learned this in the 1998 Quality King decision (qualitykingsupremecourtopinion) when a shampoo label was the basis for claiming copyright infringement against Quality King Distributors.

Any “talk” about copyright reform, even if seemingly limited to applications in the digital world, has the potential to impact the business of any reseller, wholesaler, distributor, or other property owner because, as currently drafted, the U.S. Copyright Law makes no distinction between digital and physical copies of goods nor does it distinquish between goods that are intrinsically copyrightable (e.g. CDs) from those that may only have a copyrightable component, such as a tiny design on the back of a watch (see 9thcircuitdecisionomegavcostco).

U.S. Copyright law governs lawful manufacture and distribution of all types of products, without limitation.  All stakeholders — including AFTA members — must closely monitor and participate in any attempt to revise, reform, change or amend such an all-encompassing regulation.

Here is a brief list of just some of this year’s notable copyright-related events:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that the first sale doctrine found in Section 109 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17USCsection109) applies to any lawfully made copyrighted product no matter where first made or sold.  In Kirtsaeng v. Wiley (KirstaengvWiley) the Supreme Court voted in favor of “international copyright exhaustion” meaning that once a copyright owner places its product in the marketplace it can be sold, resold, leased, given away or otherwise disposed of without requiring prior permission of the original copyright owner.
  • Before the U.S. Judiciary Committee and during a prepared speech at Columbia University, Copyright Registrar Maria Pallenante proposed a comprehensive review and revision of the U.S. Copyright Act in order to draft what she referred to as “The Next Great Coypright Act”  The Next Great Copyright Act – Pallante 2013
  • Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced that the House Judiciary Committee was to embark on a comprehensive review  of U.S. Copyright Law.  The first hearing was held on May 16 (subcommitteehearing051613ontehcopyrightprinciplesproject) and was focused on a report generated by the Copyright Principles Project (copyrightprinciplesprojectreport).
  • Judge Chin of the Southern District of New York granted summary judgement to Google, Inc. (see Author’s Guild v. Google, Inc. (googledecisionholding that  Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act, i.e., the Fair Use doctrine (17USCsection107),  protects Google’s digitization of book excerpts without permission of the copyright owners
  • Wikileaks leaked the draft IP Chapter of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement from the August 30 negotiating session (Wikileaks-secret-TPP-treaty-IP-chapter) which clearly shows that the United States is opposing any attempts to compensate individuals unfairly charged with copyright infringement by abusive copyright owners and is also opposing national laws that favor “international exhaustion” of copyrights—even though the Supreme Court, in its Kirtsaeng decision, confirmed that existing U.S. copyright law does, in fact, support exactly that!
  • Congressmen Conyers, Coble and Goodlatte announce upcoming schedule for congressional hearings on copyright reform ( Judiciary Committee Announces Next Round of Copyright Review Hearings
  • AFTA submits comments to the Department of Commerce (aftacommentsoncopyrightreformfinal) before the December 12th public meeting on copyright reform being held at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in response to the Internet Task Force’s Green Paper (copyrightgreenpaper (1))
  • On December 13, 2013, the International Center for Law & Economics, TechFreedom and the Competitive Enterprise Institute will host a panel of experts debating  ”CopyRIGHT:  Can Free Marketers Agree on Copyright Reform?” (http://cei.org/events/2012/12/13/copyright-can-free-marketeers-agree-copyright-reform)

If you would like more information about copyright reform, its potential impact on your business and how you can become a part of AFTA’s efforts to protect its members’ interests as a participating stakeholder, please contact us directly at afta@aftaus.com.

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