Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Estelle Derclaye
Chapter 24: By way of Conclusion: What Next?
23 Access to knowledge under the international copyright regime, the WIPO development agenda and the European Communities’ new external trade and IP policy Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan 1. Introduction The rise of digital technologies, their capacity for infinite and identical clones as well as global communication networks allowing unlimited dissemination of digital content are providing new opportunities for access to information. Individuals are able to access, reproduce and distribute data, ideas, concepts and any other electronic material more widely and at almost no cost. This potential for removing barriers to accessing knowledge on a global scale is however not only limited by the ‘digital divide’ as a synonym for the affordability and availability of the underlying hard- and software technology, but also affected by artificial exclusivity in the form of intellectual property (IP) protection. In relation to the concept of access to knowledge, this chapter examines the current status and newly evolving trends in international IP protection as well as Europe’s external trade and IP agenda. The concept is crucial not only for a society’s ability to engage in learning and offer education. It relates further to scientific research and forms the basis for technological advancement. Taking agricultural, bio-chemical or medical research and technology as examples, access to knowledge can improve or save lives. Knowledge in the form of information, ideas and concepts also enables and facilitates the development of new, innovative products or services with an added value or distinctive character. It finally serves as an important input in the...
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