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Month: September 2021

Pentingnya Reformasi Regulasi Hak Kekayaan Intelektual di Indonesia

Perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual merupakan salah satu permasalahan besar di negara kita. Lemahnya penegakan hukum untuk melindungi hak kekayaan intelektual membuat fenomena pembajakan sangat marak dan umum terjadi di Indonesia, baik secara offline maupun secara daring.

Kita tidak perlu pergi jauh-jauh untuk mengamati peristiwa tersebut. Bila kita pergi ke pusat perbelanjaan yang berada di dekat rumah kita, dengan mudah kita bisa menemukan berbagai produk bajakan yang dijual bebas, mulai dari produk-produk fashion, hingga produk-produk musik dan film. Hal yang sama juga bisa kita temukan dengan mudah di dunia maya.

Hal ini tentu merupakan masalah yang tidak kecil. Bila hak kekayaan intelektual tidak dilindungi, maka hal ini akan membawa kerugian yang besar bagi banyak pekerja kreatif dan inovator, khususnya mereka yang tinggal di Indonesia. Mereka menjadi tidak bisa mendapatkan manfaat ekonomi dari karya yang mereka buat dengan susah payah.

Tanpa adanya perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual yang baik dan kuat, tentu industri kreatif menjadi sangat sulit atau bahkan hampir mustahil dapat berkembang.

Bila seorang inovator atau pekerja kreatif tidak bisa menikmati dan mendapatkan manfaat ekonomi dari karya yag dihasilkannya, maka tidak mustahil insentif mereka untuk berkarya akan semakin berkurang, karena karya yang mereka hasilkan dengan mudah bisa dicuri oleh pihak-pihak yang tidak bertanggung jawab.

Untuk itu, perlindungan hak kekayaan yang kuat menjadi hal yang sangat krusial yang harus ditegakkan, agar ekonomi kreatif dan inovasi di sebuah negara dapat semakin meningkat, termasuk juga tentunya di Indonesia. Dengan semakin berkembangnya ekonomi kreatif, tentu juga akan semakin banyak lapangan kerja yang terbuka, yang akan meningkatkan kesejahteraan.

Ekonomi kreatif sendiri memiliki peran yang penting dalam perekonomian Indonesia. Berdasarkan data dari Badan Pusat Statistik (BPS), industri kreatif merupakan salah satu sektor yang menjadi penopang pertumbuhan ekonomi nasional, dan telah menyumbangkan 7,44% Produk Domestik Bruto (PDB), dan menyerap 14,28 tenaga kerja yang ada di Indoensia (ekonomi.bisnis.com, 9/3/2021). Dengan demikian, industri kreatif adalah sekto yang sangat penting, dan bila sektor ini berkembang, maka jutaan masyarakat Indonesia yang mendapatkan manfaatnya.

Penguatan terhadap penegakan perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual adalah hal yang sangat penting. Namun, hal tersebut bukanlah satu-satunya kebijakan penting yang harus diimplementasikan. Melindungi hak kekayaan intelektual para pekerja kreatif dan juga inovator, harus pula dibarengi dengan kepastian bahwa mereka bisa memanfaatkan kekayaan intelektual yang mereka miliki tersebut untuk mendapatkan biaya dan modal demi mengembangkan usaha yang mereka miliki.

Bila hak kekayaan intelektual para pekerja kreatif dilindungi, dan segala bentuk praktik pembajakan dapat ditindak tegas, namun mereka yang membuat karya dan memiliki kekayaan intelektual tersebut tidak bisa memanfaatkan kekayaan yang mereka miliki secara maksimal, maka tentu upaya untuk mendongkrak industri kreatif menjadi sangat sulit dilakukan. Kalau demikian keadaannya, maka akan sangat sulit bagi para pekerja kreatif dan para inovator untuk bisa mendapatkan modal untuk mengembangkan usaha yang mereka miliki.

Untuk itu dibutuhkan reformasi yang sangat penting untuk memberikan kepastian agar para inovator dan pekerja kreatif bisa memanfaatkan kekayaan intelektual yang mereka miliki secara maksimal. Dengan demikian, mereka memiliki kesempatan yang lebih besar untuk mengembangkan usaha dan bisnis yang dijalankannya, yang tentunya juga akan semakin membuka lapangan kerja bagi banyak orang.

Beberapa pejabat negara dan pembuat kebijakan juga menaruh harapan atas perihal kebijakan reformasi tersebut. Menteri Pariwisata dan Ekonomi Kreatif (Menparekraf), Sandiaga Uno, misalnya, menyampaikan bahwa ia ingin agar reformasi perihal hak kekayaan intelektual itu untuk dipercepat. Salah satu yang paling penting adalah bagaimana kekayaan intelektual yang dimiliki tersebut bisa dijadikan sebagai agunan pinjaman (nasional.sindonews.com, 31/8/2021).

Menteri Sandiaga sendiri juga mengatakan bahwa, Kemenparekraf sedang menyiapkan rancangan peraturan untuk pmelaksanakan Undang-Undang Ekonomi Kreatif tahun 2019. Undang-undang tersebut mengatur skema pembiayaan yang basisnya pada kekayaan intelektual yang sudah didaftarkan ke Direktorat Jenderal Kekayaan INtelektual, Kementerian Hukum dan Hak Asasi Manusia (mediaindonesia.com, 26/4/2021).

Reformsi ini adalah hal yang sangat penting agar para pelaku ekonomi kreatif dan para inovator yang memiliki kekayaan intelektual tersebut dapat lebih mudah bila mereka ingin mendapatkan pembiayaan untuk dijadikan modal usaha, atau mengembangkan usaha yang dimiliki. Regulasi ini bila berhasil disahkan maka akan menjadi terobosan baru yang besar untuk mengembangkan industri kreatif di Indonesia.

Maka dari itu, perlindungan kekayaan intelektual yang kuat dan adanya reformasi regulasi yang memungkinkan para inovator dan pelaku industri kreatif untuk memanfaatkan kekayaan intelektual yang mereka miliki agar mampu membangun dan mengembangkan usahanya adalah dua hal yang tidak bisa dipisahkan. Agar kekayaan intelektual bisa dijadikan agunan pinjaman misalnya, tentu harus diikuti pula dengan perlindungan yang kuat agar kekayaan intelektual tersebut tidak bisa dicuri.

Sebagai penutup, kebijakan reformasi kekayaan intelektual ini merupakan hal yang sangat patut kita apresiasi. Diharapkan, dengan adanya reformasi regulasi ini, industri kreatif di Indonesia akan semakin berkembang, lapangan pekerjaan akan semakin meluas, dan Indonesia dapat menjadi negara yang semakin sejahtera.

Originally published here

The EU Shouldn’t Give In To Pressure Groups Calling For Bans Of Chemicals In Cosmetics

A quick look at the European Union’s policies shows a clear tendency to over-regulate, for the sake of precaution. That is especially evident — although not limited to — in the case of consumer goods and modern agricultural practices. However, restricting GMOs and pesticides hasn’t been enough for green activists. Chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products might be next.

Similar to how pesticides are used to protect crops, chemicals in cosmetics preserve beauty products, keep them bacteria and fungi-free, and ensure that they last longer. Chemicals play an important role in making cosmetics cost-effective. Furthermore, most chemicals are used at safe levels and don’t pose any risks to our health and wellbeing. The maximum allowed paraben concentration, according to the EU’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, is 0.8. Most beauty products use are well below that threshold. Lipsticks, for example, contain only up to 0.35 percent of paraben and 0.5 percent of the chemical can be found in bath oils, tablets, and salts.

Read the full article here

The UN-led gambit to curb innovation in the developing world is only blocking prosperity

Why the risk-avoiding ‘Stockholm Convention’ endorses harmful bans and stunts progress where it is needed most.

Among developed nations, one of the most significant drivers of economic growth and prosperity has been the ability of our innovators, scientists, and entrepreneurs to deliver great products to the consumers who need them.

We need only think of the advances in washing machine technology, which has freed up hours of domestic labor, plastics and silicones, which have allowed products to be produced cheaply and last longer, and more abundant use of computer chips in our appliances, which has enabled a “smart” revolution in consumer products that are saving us time and effort at home, which fueling the revolutions in artificial intelligence and medical technology.

While these innovations are beginning to also reach developing nations, however, there are existing international treaties and regulatory bodies that are making it more difficult and costly for these products to be sold or even accessed. This significantly affects the life of a consumer and their ability to provide for their families.

One such United Nations treaty is a little-known global pact known as the Stockholm Convention, which aims to regulate long-lasting or “persistent” chemical substances, and has become the unofficial world regulator for industrial and consumer products and their makeup.

Many of the substances and compounds first targeted by the convention were pesticides, industrial chemicals, and by-products that had known harmful effects to humans or to the environment. These included aldrin, chlordane, and most controversially, the malaria-killing insecticide known as DDT.

The main idea behind these restrictions, and the UN convention itself, is that these compounds take forever to break down in the environment, and eventually make their way into our bodies through food or water contamination, and could pose an eventual danger to organisms.

Unfortunately, since the convention was launched in 2001, it has gone from banning and restricting known dangerous substances to now applying cautious labels or entire injunctions on chemicals used in ordinary life and with no known or measured risk factor in humans or animal species.

Moreover, with a large international budget and limited oversight, researchers have noted how the convention’s financial implementation has often pushed developing countries to adopt restrictions or bans for the guarantee of funding alone, something that has been observed with UN-related treaties on vaping products, and may have some complications for global trade.

Now in its 20th year, the convention has repeatedly relied on the European Union’s “precautionary principle” approach when it comes to determining risk, meaning that any general hazard, no matter the risk factor, must be abandoned out of an abundance of caution. This neglects the normal scientific framework of balancing risk and exposure.

The example of the herbicide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane — known as DDT — presents one of the most glaring cases. Though it has been banned in many developed nations and blocs such as the United States and the European Union, it is still used in many developing nations to wipe out insects carrying malaria and other diseases. In these nations, including South Africa and India, the possible harm is “vastly outweighed” by its ability to save the lives of children.

The current mechanism, therefore, considers the wishes of developed nations that do not have to deal with tropical diseases like malaria and forces this standard on those that do. The scientific analysis found in the global meetings of the Stockholm Convention does not take this factor, and a host of others, into account.

With a precautionary principle like this in place, including a process led more by politics than science, one can easily see how economic growth can be thwarted in nations that do yet have consumer access to products we use on a daily basis in developed countries.

Whether it is pesticides, household chemicals, or plastics, it is clear that a global regulatory body to regulate these substances is a desired force for good. However, if an international organization enforces bad policies on middle and low-income countries, then that is a calculation that harms the potential progress and innovation in the developing world.

Originally published here

Europe’s Nuclear Power Divide

Climate activists oppose its use even as alternatives lead to increased emissions and rising electricity prices.

Last week was a big week for the Fridays For Future, the environmentalist group inspired by Greta Thunberg. Thunberg spoke at a large rally in Berlin on Friday before hundreds of thousands of followers, launching what seems to be the big comeback for the climate-action movement in Europe following months of restrictions on large gatherings due to the pandemic. In 2019, about 6 million protesters had joined the movement on the streets, demanding more radical policy changes to tackle climate change. “We must not give up, there is no going back now,” said Thunberg, appealing to her supporters to keep pressure on European governments.  

But one incident from the demonstration illustrates a large divide in Europe over how to achieve the goals of the environmental movement. A pro-nuclear environmentalist was violently attacked by the surrounding crowd, having her sign removed and destroyed. Even as climate activists push to eliminate carbon-based fossil fuels, many in the movement remain opposed to nuclear power. 

Read the full article here

The arguments for and against universal chargers

European Commission pushing to establish USB-C as standard for all phones

The European Commission is under fire from tech giant Apple after unveiling plans to make USB-C connectors the standard charging port for all phones and small electronic devices sold across the EU. 

The bloc’s executive body “believes a standard cable for all devices will cut back on electronic waste”, reported France 24. But Apple and other critics argue that “a one-size fits all charger would slow innovation and create more pollution”, the news site continues.

The new rules could “affect the entire global smartphone market” if approved by the European Parliament and member states of the EU, which is home to more than 450 million people including “some of the world’s richest consumers”.

Read the full article here

EU wants to unify chargers again, specifically targeting Apple

Several years ago, the European Union announced that it wanted to unify mobile chargers across all manufacturers. The goal was to eliminate electronic waste because previously switching phones often means getting a new and completely different charger. But, by the time the EU got involved, almost all major manufacturers were already using micro-USB. Now, the EU is looking to update the requirement, modernizing for USB-C and removing the remaining loophole.

What is the current situation?

Currently, EU regulations require that all phones be able to charge via a universal charger (originally micro-USB, but USB-C also qualifies). At the time of the original regulations, the only major manufacturer not using the micro-USB charging port was Apple, which famously uses its proprietary Lightning connector. The universality of the micro-USB connector is attractive for swapping between phones, but Apple argued that its Lightning connector gave it capabilities not afforded by micro-USB.

This argument allowed Apple to find a middle ground with the EU regulators – making a micro-USB to Lightning adapter available to all iPhone and iPad owners. This would allow them to use the chargers they already own with their new phones, which is exactly what the EU was trying to accomplish. But, in the past few years, things have changed in the industry, leading to some changes in the regulations.

Read the full article here

Parlamento Europeu expressa preocupação a Lira e Pacheco com propriedade intelectual

Carta mostra apreensão com derrubada de veto ao trecho que exige que donos de patentes sejam obrigados a transferir o conhecimento

Parlamento Europeu enviou nesta quinta-feira (23/9) uma carta ao Congresso em que mostra preocupação com a votação de um veto sobre propriedade intelectual. O veto faz parte da lei assinada por Jair Bolsonaroneste mês para quebrar temporariamente patentes de vacinas e medicamentos para enfrentar emergências de saúde.

Na carta, enviada a Rodrigo Pacheco e Arthur Lira, o Parlamento Europeu se posiciona a favor da manutenção de um veto Bolsonaro ao trecho que exige que donos de patentes sejam obrigados a transferir o conhecimento das suas.

A avaliação é que, caso o veto seja derrubado, haverá uma violação de segredos industriais. A carta teve apoio do grupo internacional de defesa dos consumidores Consumer Choice Center e da Frente Parlamentar pelo Livre Mercado.

Read the full article here

The problem with the EPA’s pesticide politics

If you’re a regular consumer of memes, then you’ve likely heard of the widely used herbicide atrazine. Conspiracy theory broadcaster Alex Jones mentioned the chemical in a now-viral segment claiming it “turns the frog gay.” Jones had based his claims on research by a Berkeley biology professor named Tyrone Hayes. In 2002, Hayes published a study that claimed to find “hermaphroditic, demasculinized frogs after exposure to the herbicide atrazine at low ecologically relevant doses.”

Though it was dressed up as science and eventually became a meme, those claims were not peer-reviewed, and Hayes never provided data to back up his conclusions. Oddly enough, none of the other 7,000-plus scientific studies that established the safety of atrazine ever came to the same conclusion.

However, this herbicide has opponents beyond the realm of conspiracy theorists, not because of its inherent characteristics, but because environmental activists are increasingly attempting to ban all pesticides. Unlike the European Union, the U.S. has maintained a reasonable standard on studied substances allowed for use in modern agriculture because the U.S does not pursue the goal of boosting an “organic food only” type of policy . Unfortunately, that appears to be changing.

When the Environmental Protection Agency reauthorized atrazine in 2019, it did so according to a mandate by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to consider both risks and benefits arising from the registration. The agency reconsidered the so-called concentration equivalent level of concern, a conservative regulatory threshold meant to protect aquatic ecosystems from damage by the herbicide. The EPA practically reauthorized atrazine for use by farmers after a 2016 EPA evaluation proposed lowering the threshold from 10 parts per billion to 3.4 parts per billion. At the 3.4 ppb threshold, atrazine cannot be used practically, making the CELOC so restrictive that the substance would not have been allowed on the domestic market.

To farmers, atrazine and other herbicides such as glyphosate, glufosinate, and 2,4-D play a vital role in killing weeds that would otherwise have to be handled through increased tillage. This “conservation tillage,” as it’s called, reduces soil erosion and runoff. Increased soil tillage would, overall, be worse for the environment, as ​​tillage also reduces crop residue, which helps cushion the force of raindrops.

The fight over atrazine has the new EPA embroiled in a legal battle. Following lawsuits by environmental organizations against the reauthorization of atrazine, the EPA is now asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to instruct itself to reconsider the previous assessment. With this move, the EPA moves away from the scientific approach to risk and benefit assessment by circumventing the recurring reevaluation periods. In picking a politically convenient court to enable a “restart” of the process, the EPA follows politics, not scientific rigor.

This is not the first time that the EPA has done this. In a similarly disturbing move, the agency in May used a lawsuit by environmental organizations against the registration of glyphosate to ask a 9th Circuit Court to tell the EPA to reconsider certain past decisions concerning the ecological impact of the widely used herbicide. Using the court system to revisit settled regulatory decisions runs the risk of politicizing a process, in this case the regular registration review of herbicides and pesticides, that is constructed and designed to be apolitical and to function the same way regardless of who is in the White House.

If the goal of the federal government is to follow a European-style road map to increase organic farming despite the fact that only 4% of American consumers actually demand these products, then that’s a political conversation that should be open and transparent.

However, increasingly depriving conventional farmers of the essential tools they need to protect against natural threats to their crops is a backdoor means of hurting farmers and consumers alike while not contributing to a fruitful discussion.

Opening the floodgates of administrative flip-flopping and an avalanche of lawsuits is to nobody’s benefit but a few wealthy law firms. Picture the scene of organic farming being subject to the same kind of scrutiny. Would it be productive for a subsequent administration and NGOs friendly to its causes to attack copper sulfate, a pesticide commonly used in organic farming, relentlessly?

Diversity in farming allows farming entrepreneurs to choose the production methods they feel the most comfortable with while allowing consumers to choose the foodstuffs they like the most. In this equation, the role of environmental protection agencies is to assess science in an unbiased way, removed from the political priorities of the day. At least at present, that’s a goal the EPA should embrace rather than push aside.

Originally published here

Why Philly businesses should welcome Amazon’s expansion

Crony capitalism is the real threat to small business success

Amazon’s Philadelphia-area hiring blitz, announced last week, has generally been met with approval. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney called Amazon’s plan to hire 4,800 employees a “big step on the road to recovery.” But the nation’s second-largest company is not without its critics. Amazon’s sheer bigness is considered reason enough to justify suspicion and constant interrogation.

But our tendency to associate big with bad is partly based in make-believe. Movies routinely depict moguls, like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, as monsters (think of any rich villain from a Marvel film), and big retailers are always portrayed as swallowing up small shops (think Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail or Danny DeVito in Other People’s Money).

Read the full article here

Sharing economy under threat – Sharing Economy Series, part 3

Welcome to the CCC’s sharing economy series. In this series of short blog posts, I elaborate on what the sharing economy is, present the main findings of the Sharing Economy Index, and look at potential future regulations surrounding these services. 

The pandemic isn’t the only obstacle sharing economy platforms have had to face for the past several months. Governments around the world have introduced new regulations that have been detrimental to consumer choice. Compared to the time when the platform economy was only starting its way into our daily lives, ride-hailing apps today are subject to many more restrictions. Some of these new interventions include employee classifications, social security, parking requirements, or outright bans. 

One of the main aspects of ride-sharing that governments are trying to redefine and regulate is the relationship between service providers and drivers. Uber and other platforms treat drivers as contractors, rather than employees, but to some such an approach is unfair.

Drivers’ inability to set fares, penalties for cancelling rides, and customer engagement restrictions are among the main reasons why drivers can be seen as less independent than believed. However, on the other hand, contractor status gives drivers more flexibility and the chance to choose their own working hours. They can work for different ride-hailing apps at the same time, which would become impossible should full employee status be given to drivers.

Uber has been involved in many legal battles to protect drivers’ independence. Recently, the supreme court of the UK ruled that Uber drivers should be granted employee status and benefits that the status entails, like paying minimum wage and paid annual leave. This will likely increase the ride fare around the country.

This is not the first attempt at restricting Uber though. After protests of London black cab drivers, the transport regulation body TfL was pressured to introduce new restrictions on Uber. Some of these restrictions included a 5-minute wait between rides, which would have affected the delivery of service and, as Uber claimed, taken money out of drivers’ pockets. A petition against this restriction was signed by over 130,000 people and, fortunately, TfL decided to drop it. 

Brussels took a different yet equally restrictive path. The Belgian capital recently has even gone as far as banning app-based taxi systems, the essence of ride-hailing itself. This comes after pressure from the traditional taxi drivers, who were urging the government to regulate app-based ride-hailing that was becoming harder and harder for them to compete with.

Drivers who continue to accept trips via their smartphone face a risk of getting fined or having their license revoked. While Uber hasn’t been explicitly banned, countries like Denmark and Hungary have made it impossible for Uber to operate there and have practically forced the company out of the market. 

Across the ocean, the state of California has also been debating over the drivers’ status. Passed in 2020, Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) was meant to reclassify independent contractors as employees. According to the bill, ride-hailing and delivery services platforms would be required to offer multiple benefits to their drivers. This would have cost Uber and Lyft billions of dollars and increased the cost of ride-sharing services, making it increasingly unaffordable compared to traditional taxis.

Ride-hailing and delivery services platforms wanted to be exempt from granting worker-level benefits to their workers and threatened to suspend their services in the state of California. For example, it costs almost 2x more to catch a traditional taxi from LAX to Hollywood and with no more ride-hailing available, consumers would be left with fewer and more expensive options.

Proposition 22 was included in the November 2020 election ballot and passed with around 57% of California voters. This proposition allowed drivers on these apps to maintain their independent status with certain qualified benefits. But the California court recently ruled Proposition 22 unconstitutional, so it seems like the legal battle is far from being over. It is very likely that other states will follow the example of California which will put the fate of the ride-hailing in jeopardy.

Overall, even though ride-hailing services have made life easier and cheaper for consumers around the world, governments keep yielding to pressures mainly from traditional taxi industries and introducing regulations and restrictions that could potentially lead to the suspension of ride-hailing services.

The cases of the UK, Brussels and California discussed in this blogpost demonstrate a dangerous precedent for countries and cities around the world. If this trend continues, soon ride-hailing will no longer be any different from traditional services and the essence of the sharing economy will be lost. And, of course, consumers are the ones who will have to bear the burden of restricted choice.

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