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Revue quebecoise de droit international


In the past, intellectual property issues were considered complex, obscure, and highly technical; they were only of interest and concern to intellectual property attorneys, legal scholars, technology developers, and rightsholders. Thanks to the Internet and new communications technologies, however, intellectual property has now begun to play a more significant role in society.

In December 2003, the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was held in Geneva. While the conference affirmed the importance of intellectual property rights and free access to information and knowledge, the resulting Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action fail to address issues concerning the recent expansion of intellectual property rights. Being vague and abstract, the documents also fail to provide concrete actions as to how the international community can improve the international intellectual property regime.

This book chapter examines the international intellectual property regime as it relates to the development of an inclusive global information society. Part I provides an overview of the various intellectual property rights and justifications for protecting these rights. Part II explores the increased distrust of the intellectual property system, especially among less developed countries, human rights advocates, development specialists, and those on the unfortunate side of the digital divide. Part III delineates five prerequisites for the development of a fair, balanced, and robust international intellectual property regime: (1) thorough understanding, (2) balanced debate, (3) effective dialogue, (4) fair regime, and (5) global solidarity. Part IV concludes by critically examining the intellectual property-related portions of the WSIS Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action.

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