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Archived updates for Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Intellectual Property and Computer Software: A Battle of Competing Use and Access Visions

According to the forward, this paper from the UNCTAD-ICTSD Project on IPRs and Sustainable Development puts forward five main findings. First, that copyrights and other forms of intellectual property protection have erected a clear barrier to the spread of software across the South. Second, free software formats are moving fast in most developing countries where users are attempting to develop new products, innovations and adaptations in a effort to reduce the digital divide. Third, after comparing the license costs of proprietary and free software formats, the paper suggests that costs associated with free software are significantly lower although some learning, maintenance and services costs need to be taken into account when adopting these technologies. Fourth, free software formats might offer different advantages for technology transfer and follow-up applications depending on the model used (i.e. open source or general public licences). Finally, in the current international context free software systems are not a mere policy choice for developing countries, they are an important alternative for building, maintaining and changing rules that govern information flows.
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