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 9: From data to wisdom: the contribution of intellectual property rights to the knowledge pyramid

Roger Kampf


Before addressing the potential challenges posed to access to knowledge by intellectual property rights (IPRs) and the governance of such knowledge, it is important first to briefly determine how the term ‘access to knowledge’ is to be understood. On the one hand, the Access to Knowledge Movement has generally attributed a broad meaning to it as encompassing, inter alia, access to technologies, products (for example medicines), standards, copyright-protected material and information held by governments, such as access to negotiating texts at an early stage. On the other hand, the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of knowledge seems to focus on the acquisition of information and ‘virtual’ capacities, while not including access to physical goods. Whether a narrow or broad approach is taken, a distinction can certainly be made between access to scientific or technological knowledge, involving aspects such as technology transfer, patent information, standards, and so on and access to knowledge more generally, including information, educational material, and so on. A brief look at a possible model setting out the link between data, information, knowledge and wisdom, sometimes also referred to as the ‘knowledge pyramid’, is perhaps more interesting: it illustrates that information is typically based on data, knowledge is based in turn on information, and, finally, wisdom on knowledge. In other words, the definition of access to knowledge would also encompass data and information.

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