Access to Information and Knowledge
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Access to Information and Knowledge

21st Century Challenges in Intellectual Property and Knowledge Governance

Edited by Dana Beldiman

Massive quantities of information are required to fuel the innovation process in a knowledge-based economy; a requirement that is in tension with intellectual property (IP) laws. Against this backdrop, leading thinkers in the IP arena explore the ‘access challenge’ of the 21st century, framed as the tension between the interest in the free flow of information and the fragmentation of knowledge resulting from strong IP laws.
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Chapter 6: Exceptions, limitations and collective management of rights as vehicles for access to information

Johan Axhamn


From a normative perspective, the primary role of the (international) copyright system is to facilitate the production of creative works and their dissemination. At its very core the copyright system is therefore concerned with the production and availability of information and creative content for the benefit of society. On the production side, exclusive legal rights over these works are intended to permit and/or encourage authors or creators to invest the time, intellectual effort and money in the production of creative works and for the authors and creators to be identified with and ensure the integrity of their works. On the dissemination and access side, the first principles mandate that copyright only protects ‘expressions but not ideas, procedures, methods of operations or mathematical concepts as such’ and that a built-in system of limitations and exceptions ensures that (copyright protected) expressions are not constrained by undue restrictions. As many commentators have pointed out, the role of copyright in disseminating information can only be effectively realized when copyright law reflects a balance between the competing interests of protection and access. However, it is often held that this balance has been disturbed by recent technological and related legal developments. Since the mid 1990s, advances in digital technology and global networks such as the internet have generated vast opportunities as well as enormous challenges for the copyright system. Geographical distance is no longer an obstacle to disseminating works, which can take place at virtually no cost.

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