Contestation Over the Ownership, Use, and Control of Knowledge and Information
Edited by Sebastian Haunss and Kenneth C. Shadlen
Chapter 1: Introduction: Rethinking the Politics of Intellectual Property
Sebastian Haunss and Kenneth C. Shadlen Information and knowledge constitute the building blocks of culture, industry, and science. We use this simple observation as the point of departure in this book, where we examine the politics of information and knowledge. How conflicts over the ownership, control and use of these building blocks are resolved has consequences that are of fundamental importance in our everyday lives and, on a more macro scale, in patterns of growth, prosperity and development in the global economy. The rules on how information and knowledge are owned and controlled affect how individuals and collectivities access and use cultural products, along with media and entertainment goods. Because rules on information and knowledge influence the terms by which actors can access critical information – and knowledge-intensive goods such as books, medicines, and seeds, they affect national strategies to reduce poverty, achieve food security, and protect public health. And by affecting patterns of technological development and diffusion and the distribution of the gains from technological change, rules on the ownership and use of knowledge affect national and international trajectories of economic development. With the importance of these issues increasingly recognized, the past decade has witnessed a veritable explosion of literature on intellectual property (IP). Analysts have explained the introduction of new and stringent IP rules in the international trading system, focusing on the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), subsequent conflicts in the WTO over the relationship between TRIPS...