Intellectual Property

Farida Shaheed, United Nations Special Rapporteur, on Copyright policy and the right to science and culture

Farida Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, delivered a very intense and straightforward Report on  Copyright policy and the right to science and culture (A/HRC/28/57)

She summarizes its key points:

“1) First, intellectual property rights are not human rights. This equation is false and misleading. In some ways, copyright policy falls short of adequately protecting authorship, in other ways it often goes too far, unnecessarily limiting cultural freedom and participation.

2) Second, authors must be distinguished from copyright-holders. The right to protection of authorship remains with the human author(s) whose creative vision gave expression to the work, even when the copyright interest has been sold to a corporate publisher or distributer. We should always keep in mind that copyright regimes may under-protect authors because producers/publishers/distributors and other “subsequent right-holders” typically exercise more influence over law-making than individual creators, and may have divergent and possibly opposing interests to those of the creators.

3) Third, protection of authorship as a human right requires in some ways more and in other ways less than what is currently found in the copyright laws of most countries. This holds true for both the moral and the material interests of authors.”

This is the second of a group of Reports by Rapporteur Farida Shaheed on that subject. The first focused on cultural rights, the third one will examine the connection between the right to science and culture and patent policy.


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