Online Forum on Intellectual Property in the Information Society

Various authors, World Intellectual Property Organization, Jun 03, 2005
Commentary by Stephen Downes

In preparation for the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) conference, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is hosting discussions during the first half of June intended to inform its submission. The discussions are primed with ten themes addressing aspects of intellectual property and social development, and while the authors have tried to be fair in their treatment of the issue (scrupulously fair, and they should be commended) I nonetheless chafe at the assumptions underlying much of the debate: that IP laws are necessary for creativity, that IP fosters economic development. Even if these are true, they are not exclusively true. Moreover, the discussion takes the approach of how social development can be accomplished within a framework of IP protection, without seriously raising (in my mind) the role IP has and continues to play in retarding social development.
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