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Intellectual Property Rights and Free Trade: First Question to Enrique Armijo

setembro 13, 2012

Interview with Enrique Armijo, Assistant Professor of law at Elon University during Global Voices Summit 2012 in Kenya.

Question: to what extent does TRIPS contribute to creativity and access to knowledge and free trade worldwide? TRIPS is a landmark in the right to intellectual property because it was the first time states started making use of trade sanctions to re-inforce intellectual property rights. My thesis will also analyse arguments put forwarded and accepted by states and organizations to justify how intellectual right of property should be promoted. My first question is about arguments to justify intellectual property, some of the main arguments to justify IPR are that they increase innovation and creativity since research and development and the industrial sector would be willing to invest money, in that creators are entitled to receive the rewards of their creation. Do you agree, or how do you analyse IPR? Does it bring restriction or access to knowledge worldwide?

EA: I think the question frames the debate perfectly. Unfortunately there is no good answer to the question. In the US we have the constitution which is the source of the grant of an exclusive right for creative material. It is true that when you talk to artists they argue that intellectual property, the protection of intellectual property encourages them to create. To have an exclusive right in a sound recording or a composition gives them the right to profit from it and if they did not have that right to exclusive protection they wouldn’t be able to earn as much or at all. What’s interesting is that people, artists in the united states are working around the intellectual property system, giving up some of their intellectual property rights for free, putting their music up for streaming, or free download or pay what you wish type systems, recognising that even with an exclusive right to intellectual property, the real revenue comes in in performance. So there are arguments on both sides. Personally I tend to lean towards exclusive but short exclusivity, exclusive but short rights to intellectual property in terms of copyright.
TB: Do you mean short time in terms of period of time?
EA: Yes in the united states we have, the way our copyright law is structured is that it is life plus x number of years. The x number of years has become quite long, so a shortened term of exclusive rights to intellectual property I think would be better for the creative community at least…

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