Intellectual Property and General Legal Principles
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Intellectual Property and General Legal Principles

Is IP a Lex Specialis?

Edited by Graeme B. Dinwoodie

The rule of lex specialis serves as an interpretative method to determine which of two contesting norms should be used to govern. In this book, the lex specialis label is broadly applied to intellectual property and connects a series of questions: What is the scope of intellectual property law? What is the relationship between intellectual property law and general legal principles? To what extent are intellectual property laws exceptional? Drawn together by leading IP scholar Graeme Dinwoodie, these questions and others are answered carefully and reflectively by a team of expert international contributors.
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Chapter 11: IP, disability, culture and exceptionalism: Does copyright law deal with difference?

Abbe Brown and Charlotte Waelde


This chapter explores the extent to which human rights laws relating to disability and copyright conflict or complement each other. Does copyright consider itself lex specialis? If one sees the human rights and disability treaties as governing only general obligations, and copyright the specific, does copyright override what human rights and disability would otherwise dictate? Focusing on two case studies which involve human rights from different perspectives – one considers creation (the disabled dancer and her dance), and one considers use (people with visual impairments and access to books) – this chapter will look to developments in policy, international instruments, European and some domestic (UK) law to explore the relationship between these areas of law. Both creators and users of copyright works have an interest in the human rights and disability instruments and activism, and the agenda which results. Consider a choreographer and dancer with disability, who is recognised as a leader in the field of dance, or blind or partially sighted person wishing to access and enjoy the latest books in the bestseller list.

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