Intellectual Property and Human Rights

Intellectual Property and Human Rights

A Paradox

Edited by Willem Grosheide

In the modern era where the rise of the knowledge economy is accompanied, if not facilitated, by an ever-expanding use of intellectual property rights, this timely book provides a much needed explanation to the relationship between intellectual property law and human rights law.

Chapter 5: Introduction

Jerzy Koopman

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, intellectual property law, politics and public policy, human rights


Jerzy Koopman* 1. INTRODUCTION Intellectual property law regimes have increasingly proliferated during the past decades. One of the results thereof is that they touch upon more and more aspects of human life. It has become obvious that intellectual property law regimes have a profound impact on all sorts of human activity across national, disciplinary and cultural boundaries around the world. Intellectual property increasingly affects cultural, scientific, technological, and commercial exchanges and, thereby, steers and (re)directs courses of action in and among those realms. Whereas economic, cultural, scientific and technological circumstances, preferences and governmental policies may press for such proliferation – may envision positive outcomes thereof – downsides begin to be observed as well. These downsides may vary in kind and in effect, and may be brought about by the workings of different intellectual property regimes as well. They may concern topics as disparate as the deprivation of biological and cultural diversity; the decline of accessibility of information; and a decrease in accessibility of health care products and so forth. Looked at from an overall societal and legal perspective, it may thus not be considered surprising that human rights come into play. At the turn of the millennium, the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights even held that ‘[t]here are . . . conflicts between the intellectual property rights regime . . . and international human rights law . . .’1 Hence, the emergence of a so-called human rights paradox in intellectual property law – the theme of the CIER conference of which this book is one of the tangible, rich...