January 14, 2013

A tragic death, lessons for Europe?

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Much has been written about the tragic death of Aaron Swartz. As I didn’t know him personally, I would like to limit myself to three words: rest in peace (and my deepest sympathy for his family, loved ones and friends).

Are there lessons in this for Europe (and beyond)? Yes.

First, access to knowledge and culture is a human right. As Peter Yu wrote earlier, it is imperative that countries strike a more appropriate balance between the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights and the commitments made in international or regional human rights instruments. [1]

There is no room for criminalisation of intellectual property rights infringements.

Second, European countries have extradition treaties with the US. We will have to review them. They should not include intellectual property rights infringements. And, possibly, not include computer “crimes”. They should not be automatic.

[1] Yu, P. K., (2011) Intellectual Property and Human Rights in the Nonmultilateral Era (September 12, 2011). Florida Law Review, Vol. 64, pp. 1045-1100, Drake University Law School Research Paper No. 11-04. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1926102