AS (2016) CR 15
Addendum 2



(Second part)


Fifteenth sitting

Wednesday 20 April 2016 at 3.30 p.m.


Intellectual property rights in the digital era

The following texts were submitted for inclusion in the official report by members who were present in the Chamber but were prevented by lack of time from delivering them.

Mr JÓNASSON (Iceland) – This is a solid paper on a very important subject, and I would like to start by thanking the rapporteur for his good work.

In short, the report says that intellectual property rights are indeed this: property rights. Stealing such property is like stealing any other property and should be criminalised and punished wherever such theft takes place – including the internet. But this is where problems arise: the internet is, of course, a means of communication, and any interference there is seen as a threat to democratic rights and thus a threat to human rights. Furthermore, there are dangers involved in regulating a technological world which is still in the making.

The rapporteur is, however, well aware of all these dimensions and calls for all stakeholders to constructively take part in an effort to remedy what is obviously wrong. And what is wrong? Well, stealing products that fall under the umbrella of intellectual property rights is, in many cases, depriving the producers of their livelihood. This is a real-world serious business where a lot of money is made from stolen goods.

Having said that about the dangers involved in interfering with the internet, I very much agree with the rapporteur that we should not overestimate the dangers. There is a tendency to mystify the internet. I agree with the rapporteur that digital services do not take place in an “imaginary borderless cloud”, but are for real in the real world.

I want to emphasise that it is of vital importance to approach this issue at an international level. It is an international phenomenon, and dealing with it internationally diminishes the dangers of individual States which do not have much respect for democratic and human rights seizing this opportunity to infringe on such rights.

Intellectual property rights are by no means always above criticism; neither are patents, a close relative. Since they are protected by property rights, companies that hold patents on seeds, plants and animals, genes and gene products, as well as on pharmaceuticals, can set whatever price they want for their products, with serious consequences for the poorer parts of the world. It is important to find the right balance between the interests of innovators and the rights of the general public.

Here we are talking principally about the digital world. Let us not forget that property rights can also hamper progress in research and development in that world. It is worth a thought, that if many of those who developed the Internet had not made their ideas and work freely available, we would probably not have experienced the explosion in knowledge and the distribution of information that we are witnessing today.