Perspective from TechPresident: It is hard for Westerners to realize just how much we take for granted about intellectual property, and in particular, how much the property owner’s perspective–be it a corporation, government or creative artist–is embedded in our view of the world as the natural order of things.
While sharing and copying technologies are disrupting some of the ways we understanding “content,” when you visit a non-Western country like India, the spectrum of choices become broader. There is less timidity wrestling with questions like: should poor farmers pay inflated prices for patented genetically-engineered seeds? How long should patents be given for life-saving medicines that cost more than many make in a year? Should Indian universities spend millions on academic journals and articles? In the United States or other rich countries we may weigh both sides of these questions–the rights of the owner vs. the moral rights of the user–but there’s no question people elsewhere, such as in India, weigh them different given the questions of life and death or of poverty and development.
Consequently, conversations about open knowledge outside the supposedly settled lands of the “rich” often stretch beyond permission-based “fair use” and “creative commons” approaches. There is a desire to explore potential moral rights to use “content” in addition to just property rights that may be granted under statutes.