Chapter 16: Intellectual Property: A Human (Not Corporate) Right
16. Intellectual property: A human (not corporate) right Megan M. Carpenter* There is a discord between intellectual property and human rights, which begins in the human rights instruments themselves. In its General Comment 17, for example, the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights distinguishes intellectual property rights from human rights. Human rights, on the one hand, are ‘fundamental, inalienable and universal entitlements belonging to individuals and, under certain circumstances, groups of individuals and communities’1 and are ‘timeless expressions of fundamental entitlements of the human person.’2 Intellectual property rights, on the other hand, are described as ‘first and foremost means by which States seek to provide incentives for inventiveness and creativity’3 and ‘primarily protect business and corporate interests and investments.’4 The temptation to categorize intellectual property rights as solely a vehicle for protection of corporate interests is great. Pharmaceutical companies participate in a multi-billion dollar industry while indigenous communities with traditional medicines see little benefit. Media companies enjoy increasing market share while independent creators who struggle to find time and energy to work on their art outside of their day jobs are marginal to the operation of intellectual property rules. Sacred religious and * I would like to thank Kathryn Murphy, my (tirelessly hardworking) research assistant. 1 UN Committee On Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, ‘General Comment No. 17: The Right of Everyone to Benefit from the Protection of the Moral and Material Interests Resulting from any Scientific, Literary or Artistic Production of Which He or She Is the Author (Art. 15...
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