Development Agendas in a Changing World
Edited by Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz and Pedro Roffe
Chapter 1: Rights in Basic Information
Peter Jaszi INTRODUCTION This chapter sets out to map cross-cutting developments in the contemporary law of intellectual property rights (IPRs) in which their scope and application have been continually expanding. These developments may ultimately be frustrating the cause they were originally intended to promote, that is, innovation to benefit the public at large. Powerful economic and political pressures toward the increasing commodification of information are at work nationally and internationally in today’s legal environment. Among the many potential adverse consequences is the enclosure of basic information essential to continued cultural production. As basic inputs to the innovation process are privatized, it becomes increasingly likely that legal rights will be misused in efforts to intentionally impede competition. It is just as likely, however, that the commercial rationing of existing stores of information will chill the generation of new knowledge. Four trends are explored in this chapter: 1. 2. 3. 4. the experiment with intellectual property rights in non-original databases in the European Union and (potentially) beyond; the movement toward data exclusivity rules relating to test information on pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals; patent protection for basic research tools (including equipment, reagents and biological compounds); and anticircumvention provisions that create an additional layer of legal protection for copyrighted works in digital formats. The instances that constitute each trend operate to impede access to basic information in various ways. Each trend has been a response to the demands of rights holders, with little or no critical attention by policy-makers to the likely consequences for...
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