Access to Knowledge: A Guide for Everyone by Frederick Noronha, Jeremy Malcolm

By Frederick Noronha, Jeremy Malcolm

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1 This chapter begins by providing an outline of copyright and patent law, and describing some of the ways in which these laws and the ways in which they are enforced can impeded access to knowledge. The chapter then goes on to look at intellectual property enforcement practices, which can cut across copyright and patents. 1 Copyright The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works 1886 is the first international treaty on copyright. The UK mooted the idea of international cooperation and the early members were mainly Western European countries (Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia and the UK became members in 1887).

Doc〉; idem, WIPO Study on Copyright Limitations and 35 2. FAIRER LAWS AND ENFORCEMENT PRACTICES the limitations and exceptions for persons with disabilities, in respect of which a proposal was tabled in May 2009 by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay for a WIPO Treaty for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons, based on text drafted by the World Blind Union. This would be the first international instrument to set new minimum limitations and exceptions to copyright law, thus introducing a new note of balance into international IP norm-setting that has been sorely lacking until now.

The World Health Organisation’s Doha Declaration of 2001 ensured that governments may issue compulsory licences on patents for medicines, or take other steps to protect public health. However, parallel imports from other countries often are met with strong trade sanctions, making this instrument ineffective in practice. Another problem is that the drug industry is incentivised to research drugs that will sell in western countries, because that will earn the most money. In the United States, only about 10% of the research funds are used to investigate 90% of the world’s health problems.

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