February 2, 2012

Let’s first try to find the right questions

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With accusations of propaganda going both ways, we may like to first try to find the right questions regarding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Some suggestions.

The 1994 WTO TRIPS agreement contains civil and border measures against infringements, and criminal measures against wilful trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy on a commercial scale. Will heightened measures (above TRIPS) solve problems?

1. Is it possible to solve the global media piracy problem or is it rather a global pricing problem?

2. Is it possible to solve the global counterfeiting problem or is it rather a global pricing problem?

3. Is intellectual property rights enforcement the right approach to fight dangerous products, or do we rather need safety regulations (whether IPRs are infringed or not)?

4. Did the Doha Declaration solve the problems with access to medicine and public health?

5. Did we solve problems with transfer of green technology needed to fight climate change?

6. Before people had computers, it took an effort to infringe copyright. One had to make a physical copy. Since people have computers, infringement is often just one mouse click away. Forwarding an email (with an attachment) can already violate copyright law. Did we all become infringers? Do we have to rethink copyright and enforcement, or unleash draconian measures upon ourselves?

Suggested reading:

Media Piracy in Emerging Economies, edited by Joe Karaganis http://piracy.ssrc.org

Enforcing European Intellectual Property Rights in Europe and in Third Countries – The Quest for Balance, Prof. Annette Kur, MPI Munich
http://www.se2009.eu/polopoly_fs/1.28342!menu/standard/file/Kur%2C%20Max%20Planck.pdf (pdf)

A Trade Barrier to Defeating AIDS, Tina Rosenberg