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November 16, 2003The IPR Hot Potato. There's little agreement over Intellectual Property Rights in advance of the summit. As ever, it's hardly surprising that ideas and information (specifically, who owns them and what does it cost to buy them) go to the heart of the "digital divide". To quote the WSIS draft declaration "a fair balance has to be struck between IPR protection... and... its use, and knowledge-sharing".
So, on one hand, WSIS-watchers will be looking closely at the attitude of big "advanced developing" countries like Brazil, Mexico, China and India - who have interests on either side of the IPR digital-information divide. Richer countries see a strict regime of intellectual property protection as essential to encourage innovation and creativity, while ranged between them are those who believe the "fair balance" concept is mean, misguided and based on a false analogy with ownership of physical property. Of course, those who promote communication rights believe "the best way to 'protect' creations of the intellect is to allow them to be used".