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      Civil society and global copyright reform advocacy: incoherent frames as missed opportunities?

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            After almost a decade of civil society (CS) efforts aimed at reforming the global intellectual property (IP) system, this study examines whether the paucity in global copyright reform is a result of the failure by civil society to mobilise around an explicit or coherent frame. While previous episodes of global intellectual property rights (IPR) reform advocacy involving CS were effectively contested under a human rights frame, there have been less successful framing attempts in the space of copyright reform advocacy. Using semi-structured interviews with key civil society stakeholders involved in the reform of the global copyright system, the study explores possible explanations for this lapse in framing in copyright reform advocacy. It also questions the extent to which framing has been an intelligible lens through which to understand the success or failure of global IPR advocacy. It reveals that frame analysis does not comprehensively capture success or failure in global IPR policymaking. Lastly, the study looks at problems with civil society and what these mean for copyright reform and ultimately the future of the global IPR system.


            Author and article information

            Pluto Journals
            1 March 2014
            : 32
            : 1 ( doiID: 10.1080/prometheus.32.issue-1 )
            : 3-22
            [ a ]Department of Government, London School of Economics, London, UK
            [ b ]School of Library and Information Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA
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            Computer science,Arts,Social & Behavioral Sciences,Law,History,Economics


            1. CPTech is now Knowledge Economy International.

            2. It is significant that the patent provisions in TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) were concluded amidst great controversy and conflict (see Marcellin, 2010).

            3. The Diplomatic Conference on Certain Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Questions, held in December 1996.

            4. For more information about the Doha Declaration on TRIPs and public health, see http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/min01_e/mindecl_trips_e.htm [accessed March 2014].

            5. The United States was alone in opposing a WIPO treaty on copyright exceptions for blind and other print-disabled readers (see Intellectual Property Watch, 2012).

            6. This volume is the World Intellectual Property Organisation and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1999).

            7. Despite their domestic specificity, these bills would have had a major impact on global copyright enforcement. For some transnational action against these bills, see point 25 of the joint motion for a resolution on the EU-US summit of 28 November 2011 (European Parliament, 2011). See also Baker (2011) on the European Parliament's condemnation of SOPA.


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