For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

At the apex of the Summit: "real world" invoked in copyright debate

From the IPKat's friend Magali Delhaye (take a katpat, Magali!) comes news that Neelie Kroes (Vice-President of the European Commission and not a person who is widely known for her warm and encouraging endorsements of intellectual property) gave a speech yesterday at The 2012 Intellectual Property and Innovation Summit (The Lisbon Council) on European copyright policies. In this speech Neelie compared, among other things, the fragmented European market with the American one, asking whether our current system  -- and European copyright policies -- were "consistent and relevant within the real world", adding that, in an assessment of whether more changes were necessary to the European copyright framework in order to achieve growth and stimulate innovation, she was open to ideas [is this itself a change in position, wonders Merpel] from all stakeholders: artists, consumers, businesses and researchers. You can read the full text of her speech here. It's not without a dose of rhetoric. For example:

"Each day we fail to respond, we are missing out. Consumers miss out on easy, legal access to their favourite products [True, notes Merpel, but they're not missing out on easy, illegal access, it seems ...]. The creative sector [it would be good to exactly what this term means: does it still include the creators of original works, or only those who want to create business opportunities for exploiting works created by other people?] misses out on new markets, new innovations, new opportunities [it would be helpful if we could identify these and gain a better idea of what they might be. After all, the things you can do with a work are limited by the senses -- you can listen to a work, and watch it but you still can't eat it]. We all miss out on new ways to share, recognise, and appreciate our cultural heritage. And our economy overall misses out on the chance of new growth [can it be assumed that new business models for delivering copyright-protected work will produce more growth than those which Neelie Kroes wishes to replace?]".
The IPKat is always a little uncomfortable when the "real world" is invoked as a yardstick against which to measure intellectual property, since it is a concept that does not admit such rights.  All IP rights are intangible and conjectural. We legislate them into existence simply because they are not otherwise present in the world and, when measured against it, they have no more substance than good manners, wishful thinking or the nightmare that wakes the sleeping infant.  The reason why we legislate IP rights into existence is a shared perception that to do so may provide some form of benefit that outweighs the fiction which is their reality. Have we lost that perception entirely? If not, when we discuss the necessary revisions and improvements which await copyright and other IP rights, can we at least pretend that the real world is the one we wish to bring about, not the one that currently exists?

Changing the subject, or perhaps adding to it, Magali also tells the Kats that Ian Hargreaves was also at the Summit, where he presented a paper entitled "Intellectual Property and Innovation: A Framework for 21st Century Growth and Jobs" (a new Lisbon Council publication, which he co-edited).

More information on the Summit can be accessed through this link (Ian Hargreaves' publication can be accessed through the first link on this page).

1 comment:

Ken Moon said...

I see no problem with using a "real world" benchmark for intangible IPRs. I am sure the bottom would drop out of the real world of Neelie Kroes if it did not include stocks and shares and they are just another family of intangibles.

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