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 8: Framing and explaining the politicization of intellectual property rights in the knowledge society

Ingrid Schneider


Not long ago, the meaning of the acronym ACTA was only known to insiders. This fact dramatically changed in February 2012, when tens of thousands of protesters against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) took to the streets of Europe and anti-ACTA protests broke out internationally. These protests, massive, vocal and broad, came as a surprise, not only to politicians, but also to practitioners and academics long familiar with the field of intellectual property (IP) law. What happened? The first part of this article will provide some observations, interpretations, and a frame theory-based analysis of the anti-ACTA protests in Europe. The second part will conceptualize some of the structural forces at work and the reasons for the fact that intellectual property has become increasingly problematized and politicized in the knowledge society. The article is based on the thesis that ACTA is but the tip of an iceberg, hiding underneath it complex and widespread shifts in structure, caused by globalization, as well as by the pace of social, economic, technological, and cultural change. The article’s objective is to map and explain some of the discontents surrounding intellectual property. The first section will discuss ACTA as pars pro toto for the contentions in intellectual property. The second section will explore the sources of structural changes underlying these contentions. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a plurilateral treaty aiming to establish an international legal framework for enforcement of intellectual property rights by targeting counterfeit goods and copyright infringement.

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