Ramblings & ephemera

Developing nations stand up to US/UN bullying on copyright

From “Statement by India at the Inter-Sessional Intergovernmental Meeting on a Development Agenda For WIPO, April 11-13, 2005” (emphasis added):

“Development”, in WIPO’s terminology means increasing a developing country’s capacity to provide protection to the owners of intellectual property rights. This is quite a the opposite of what developing countries understand when they refer to the ‘development dimension’. The document presented by the Group of Friends of Development corrects this misconception – that development dimension means technical assistance.

The real “development” imperative is ensuring that the interest of Intellectual Property owners is not secured at the expense of the users of IP, of consumers at large, and of public policy in general. …

The legal monopoly granted to IP owners is an exceptional departure from the general principle of competitive markets as the best guarantee for securing the interest of society. The rationale for the exception is not that extraction of monopoly profits by the innovator is, of and in itself, good for society and so needs to be promoted. Rather, that properly controlled, such a monopoly, by providing an incentive for innovation, might produce sufficient benefits for society to compensate for the immediate loss to consumers as a result of the existence of a monopoly market instead of a competitive market. Monopoly rights, then, granted to IP holders is a special incentive that needs to be carefully calibrated by each country, in the light of its own circumstances, taking into account the overall costs and benefits of such protection. …

The current emphasis of Technical Assistance on implementation and enforcement issues is misplaced. IP Law enforcement is embedded in the framework of all law enforcement in the individual countries. It is unrealistic, and even undesirable to expect that the enforcement of IP laws will be privileged over the enforcement of other laws in the country. Society faces a considerable challenge to effectively protect, and resolve disputes over, physical property. To expect that the police, the lawyers and the courts should dedicate a sizable part of society’s enforcement resources for protecting intangible intellectual property, is unrealistic. …

In conclusion, it is important that developed countries and WIPO acknowledge that IP protection is an important policy instrument for developing countries, one that needs to be used carefully. While the claimed benefits of strong IP protection for developing countries are a matter of debate – and nearly always in the distant future – such protection invariably entails substatial real an immediate costs for these countries. In formulating its IP policy, therefore, each country needs to have sufficient flexibility so that the cost of IP protection does not outweigh the benefits.

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