Monday, 1 May 2017

Copyright and the economy - from the Creative Commons summit - Day 3


There was much food for thought (and action) in the session on copyright and trade agreements on the summit's last day. Ostensibly, trade agreements like NAFTA and CETA and the many others that have been  signed by Canada and other nations in recent years are designed to remove tariff and other barriers to exchange in the interests of cheaper products and so more efficient trade..A naïve observer might wonder then why one  key barrier to exchange, copyright law, continues to exist in most "developed" countries.

So-called free trade agreements, the Creative Commons workshop was told, generally ignore the issue of intellectual property. While Creative Commons groups in several of the countries represented at the conference work for the abolition of copyright protections on the grounds that it is not just or fair to remove important knowledge from the many in the world who, for reasons of poverty, location and skill (often all three) are unable to benefit from what in many cases can be life and death determining. There have been several instances in recent years of lifesaving drugs that are held hostage, through high pricing, by pharmaceutical companies, much of whose research and many of whose researchers, have been supported by public funds. 

The obvious concluding opinion of the audience, if not yet of their national governments, was, in the interests of the many, to abolish copyright protection as a whole and institute a default creative commons. Fair use extensions and exceptions to copyright are not enough. The health and wellbeing of too many around the world are at stake. Is copyright not an enemy of a truly social economy?  

For those looking for altrenatives to Copyright an increasing number of alternative content licenses are now available at www.creativecommons.org including CopyLeft and Sharealike. There is life in commons, beyond private property, both for real estate and for knowledge.                             

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