Happy World Intellectual Property Day!

There is a “day” for almost everything it seems.  The reason why such “days” exist is generally to raise awareness of a particular issue.  Such days are a sort of celebration of a cause which is often defended all year round but needs a focal point for the media.

So, intellectual property gets its day today as authors’ rights and copyright had there day on 23rd April.  Are these threatened species?  That would probably be going a step too far, but the last year has certainly seen and marked shift and increasing criticisms of copyright and intellectual property very often in conjunction with how these fundamental systems fit in to the new online world.

Authors’ rights and copyright are a kind of intellectual property.  Maybe even the first to be recognised as such.  These are the rights that enable the creators of works, such as directors and screenwriters, to exercise ownership of their immaterial ideas and to be able to earn a living, and keep on creating.  Before authors’ rights, an authors ability to create depended on patronage and that often limited the creators’ ability to be truly free.  The advent of copyright/authors’ rights brought authors the freedom to write what they wanted, a freedom of speech if you will, that wasn’t shackled by the need to please a financial donor.

How funny then that a few hundred years on we see that copyright and authors’ rights are now being accused of exactly the opposite.  As we see a concerted attack on copyright, and particularly its enforcement online, we see the oversimplified juxtaposition of copyright and freedom of speech – as if one precluded the other!

Authors, like any creator, hope that their work will reach the largest audience possible.  They also hope that they will be paid fairly for their creation and be given the incentive to create further.  An author also relies on their freedom of speech to create. 

It is authors’ rights, copyright, intellectual property that guarantee all of this. 

Let’s try to cut through the oversimplified copyright bashing and make sure that our creators can keep doing what they do best and that we can continue to enjoy their creativity.

JT

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