Ethics and Law – Week 8

Study the Anglo-American and Continental European school of intellectual property (IP). Write a short comparative analysis to your blog (if you have clear preference for one over another, explain that, too).

As stated in the material, the exclusive rights allow owners of intellectual property to benefit from the property they have created, providing a financial incentive for the creation of and investment in intellectual property, and, in case of patents, pay associated research and development costs and also the existence of IP laws is credited with significant contributions toward economic growth.

To keep that in mind, many international treaties and acts have been compiled to regulate the IP rights between and within countries:

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, first accepted in Berne, Switzerland in 1886

The Universal Copyright Convention (or UCC), adopted at Geneva in 1952

The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, administered by the World Trade Organization, negotiated in 1994.

As stated in the material the Anglo-American way of looking at the protection and preservation of IP (e.g. in the US) is quite copyright based. United States copyright law governs the legally enforceable rights of creative and artistic works under the laws of the United States. Copyright law in the United States is part of federal law, and is authorized by the U.S. Constitution. The power to enact copyright law is granted in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, also known as the Copyright Clause, which states:

The Congress shall have Power [. . .] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

This clause forms the basis for U.S. copyright law and patent law, and includes the limited terms allowed for copyrights and patents, as well as the items they may protect. According to the U.S. copyright law, works created in or after 1978 are granted copyright protection for a term ending 70 years after the death of the author.

The European side has bit different approach. The Berne Convention is also applied here but the actual time of copyright and patents vary a lot, depending on the various legislations of different countries. The convention states that all works except photographic and cinematographic shall be copyrighted for at least 50 years after the author’s death, but parties are free to provide longer terms. The European Union has had a lot to do with these exceptions.

Although the Berne Convention states that the copyright law of the country where copyright is claimed shall be applied, article 7.8 states that “unless the legislation of that country otherwise provides, the term shall not exceed the term fixed in the country of origin of the work”.

To sum up, I do like the application of one, coherent law that is the same everywhere. That aside, there are different situations that need different approaches. So the European way is a bit more versatile. But, and there is a “but”, if certain countries start to use the changes and differences in their legislation in a way that starts to gouge the international law and treaties, which they do, then the American way would be a bit better to go by.


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