Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, University of New South Wales
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Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Consumer Voices in IP

On Monday Housemate Abi and I attended the "Increasing Consumers Voice in Intellectual Property Policy" Consumers International World Congress Side Event at the Vibe Hotel in North Sydney (see Abi's previous post with the details here.) Speakers were there from all parts of the globe, including the United Kingdom, Thailand, Chile, Indonesia and the Netherlands. You can read more about the day here at the CHOICE Voice blog on the World Congress and there are links to many of the Powerpoint presentations delivered on the day.

The presentations were fascinating - when I think about consumer issues in intellectual property law, my mind instantly jumps to whether we can legally use our digital technologies in the ways that we want to - but the many issues covered at this event served as a reminder that intellectual property laws affect consumers in very different ways around the world.

Two particular presentations stand out in my mind as illustrative of this. First, Dr. Jiraporn Limpananont from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), delivered an excellent presentation on access to medicines and campaigning against drug patents in Thailand. The public were incredibly involved in these campaigns and Dr. Limpananont's presentation features photographs of the many community demonstrations aimed at reforming this system. (See the presentation here).

Second, Indrani Thuraisingham from the Kuala Lumpur branch of Consumers International discussed the issues of DRM in academic journals. CIKL purchased a number of academic journal articles and ebooks online and studied the access, use and download restrictions that came with each, with very interesting - and startling - results. With the average price of an article being $US25, this equated to:
(From Ms. Thuraisingham's slide show, available here)

Take a look at the presentations available on the CHOICE Voice site - many of the presentations contain similarly startling statistics, with the overall theme being that there needs to be a definite increase in consumer voices in intellectual property. Those with a voice that can be heard need to speak up!

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