Thursday, June 01, 2006

Copy South

I'd read in a book called Information Feudalism about how the intellectual property laws of our rich countries were imposed on poor countries by an international agreement called TRIPS. This treaty, which is required to enter the WTO, hurts those countries without offering anything to them in return.

So, I was interested to hear about Copy South, which discusses the effects of copyright on the third world.
As long-time Philippines activist Roberto Verzola explained at the Copy/South workshop … there are two main competing value systems in the world and, in the current era, “the value system of monopolisation, corporatisation, and privatisation is being imposed on what I think is a better system, a system of sharing.”

From the start, it was clear to many that the TRIPS Agreement would primarily benefit already developed Northern countries far more than those in the global South. It is the multinationals of the North who already own the overwhelming percentage of ... copyright, patents, [and] trademarks; the creation, expansion, and stricter enforcement of ... intellectual property rights overwhelmingly benefits those already owning property.

Ten years have passed since TRIPS became reality ... The more common name for such treaties is ‘free trade agreements’; they follow a hypocritical (and contradictory) agenda of purporting to promote ‘freer trade’ in monopolised goods such as patented pharmaceuticals and Hollywood blockbusters. We ask, “how much ‘free trade’ in Nigerian or Cuban or Chinese films occurs within the US or Europe?” So it will be argued here that TRIPS and its component parts, such as the Berne Convention, have simply reproduced the types of economic inequalities associated with the earliest stages of colonialism and imperialism.

- The Copy/South Dossier

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