Exploring International Copyright’s Gaps and Flexibilities

October 6, 2017

Columbia Law School

Recommended Readings

International copyright treaties, particularly the Berne Convention (supported and made enforceable in the WTO by TRIPS) govern crucial elements of domestic copyright law. While Berne was intended to be regularly updated to keep pace with social and technological advances, it has now been almost half a century since the last substantive revision, and there’s a very real prospect that it may never be revised again. TRIPS, too, is proving to be effectively unamendable.

The world has changed enormously since the promulgation of these treaties, and now relies ever more heavily on the making of copyright-invoking copies and transmissions. At the same time, there are increasingly urgent calls for copyright reforms to improve outcomes for authors and better facilitate the continued availability and use of works.

If copyright is to rise to the challenges of the age, we must think critically about the scope for modernization within the existing framework.  At the next Kernochan Center Symposium, to be held in New York on October 6, leading experts will analyze the gaps and flexibilities within copyright’s international framework – and posit how they might be navigated to support meaningful reform even in the absence of textual change.


8:30-9:00        Registration

9:00-9:15        Welcome remarks

9:15- 10:30     Keynote Panel  

Sam Ricketson, University of Melbourne Law School - "Recent Developments in International Copyright"

Rebecca Giblin, Monash University Law School - "A New Copyright Bargain?"

10:30-10:45    Break

10:45-1:00      Panel:  Improving Copyright for Creators 

While some justify the broad and long grants mandated by Berne/TRIPS as favoring authors, it is not clear to what extent authors in fact benefit from these rights.  Author-unfavorable outcomes may not be surprising, given both their weaker bargaining position and the enormous changes to business models, creative practice and consumer behavior since the establishment of the international treaty frameworks.  Amending the treaties is unlikely, but what room do they allow to improve the economic returns to authors?  In this session, the panel will consider opportunities within the Berne/TRIPS framework to improve outcomes for the individuals at the center of the copyright equation. Particular consideration will be given to current attempts to reserve a greater share to authors in the US and Europe – and the not-entirely-satisfactory effects of those endeavors to date.

Moderator:  Niva Elkin-Koren, University of Haifa


Martin Senftleben, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

Séverine Dusollier, SciencesPo

Jane Ginsburg, Columbia Law School

Mary Rasenberger, Authors Guild

Ruth Towse, Bournemouth University

1:00-2:00        Lunch

2:00-3:30        Panel:  Facilitating Transactions and Lawful Availability of Works of Authorship

The panelists will discuss techniques to facilitate licenses with authors and to enhance the accessibility of copyrighted works (e.g., formalities, Extended Collective Licenses, compulsory licenses, viral licenses) and consider the extent to which those techniques could be Berne-compatible.

Moderator:  June Besek, Kernochan Center, Columbia Law School


Rob Kasunic, United States Copyright Office

The Hon. William Vancise Q.C., Retired Chair, Copyright Board of Canada

Kate Spelman, Lane Powell LLP, Board Member, Creative Commons

Rán Tryggvadóttir, KU Leuven Center for IT & IP Law

3:30-3:45        Break

3:45-4:45        Panel:  Remedies, Enforcement and Territoriality

Berne and TRIPS were settled before the internet and digital technologies transformed the making of copies and transmissions into an essential part of daily life. Here, panelists consider how approaches to remedies, enforcement and territoriality might be rethought, consistent with the treaties, to better respond to the challenges of the age. 

Moderator: Tim Wu, Columbia Law School


Giuseppe Mazziotti, Trinity College, Dublin

Eric Schwartz, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp

Kimberlee Weatherall, University of Sydney

4:45-5:00        Closing remarks