Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 29.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Mon, 21 May 2001 06:28:00 +0100
From: email@example.com (Francois Lachance)
Subject: The Hague Convention
Willard and subscribers interested in international coypright law,
Being situated in a work environment where I am surrounded by lawyers,
some of whom do policy development in the area of private international
law, I have the benefit of drawing upon collegial good favour for the
explication of some finer points that sometimes get glossed over in the
discoursive twitching practiced by _Wired_. I pass on, with permission,
the following intervention that may or may not get circulated by _Wired_.
Here is a note I sent to Wired yesterday in response to its article on
this issue. Much of the concern is harebrained, and much of the rest is
ill-informed. There may be the nucleus of some potential problems, but
it's far from apocalyptic.
Four comments about the apparent concerns about the Hague work on
enforcement of judgements:
Please say which Hague Convention you mean, at least the first
time out. There are a lot of them, most of them not controversial. If you
say "the proposed Hague Convention on enforcement of judgments", then we
can situate it better. For the first several paragraphs of the article it
sounded as if you meant some new convention on copyright. WIPO does
copyright conventions, not The Hague.
The proposed Convention deals with the enforcement of civil
judgments. This means that member countries do not have to ban things
that other member governments ban. It means that if someone gets a
judgment in one member country for infringement of copyright, then other
member countries would have to enforce it, if the country of the original
judgment properly took jurisdiction over the case. The grounds for taking
jurisdiction are the subject of continuing debate (with the U.S. arguing
for broad jurisdiction and Europe arguing for more limited jurisdiction,
The remedies a country can impose to enforce a foreign judgment
are those available in the enforcing country, not those that the
originating country might have had available. If a U.S. court would not
in a U.S. case impose a duty on an ISP to filter content to prevent
further infringement, then it won't do that under the Convention either.
If it might do that in a domestic case, then it might do it under the
The obligation on any member country to enforce a judgment from
another member country is subject to an override based on public policy of
the enforcing country. So if it is totally reprehensible in the U.S. to
enforce some foreign judgment because of, say, First Amendment principles,
the Convention will give a way out. This is however a narrow exemption,
not a discretionary one.
The text of the draft Convention and supporting documents can be found at
the Hague Conference on Private International Law's web site,
As has cropped up in the past in repostings of information : consider the
-- Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance 20th : Machine Age :: 21st : Era of Reparation
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