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Archived updates for Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Development in the Information Age: Issues in the Regulation of Intellectual Property Rights

This paper from the UNCTAD-ICTSD Project on IPRs and Sustainable Development highlights the particular importance for developing countries of information communication technologies (ICT) as a tool for economic growth. ICT pose challenges to developing countries, but at the same time offer opportunities. The main challenges arise from international rules on copyright and database protection, which are increasingly restricting free access to protected works that developing countries need in the context of public policies such as education and research. On top of low Internet use and penetration prevailing in most developing countries, these legal tools may represent additional access barriers. In order to mitigate such effects, developing countries should seek to balance effective protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) against robust limitations of exclusive rights to encourage competition and socially beneficial uses of ICT. In this respect, the international IPRs system provides important flexibilities in the implementation of IPRs obligations. Making use of these flexibilities is a way for developing countries to reap the benefits offered to them by ICT, in particular with respect to the promotion of the local music industry and on-line based education and research. To which extent ICT may actually be used as an effective tool for economic growth largely depends on the domestic regulatory framework, taking account of the particular situation in each country.
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