The Revolutionary Influence of Low Enlightenment: Weakening Copyright in Developing Countries to Improve Respect for Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Martin Skladany, Penn State Dickinson Law


Diverse groups have banded together to critique current intellectual property laws under the Access to Knowledge movement. The Geneva Declaration on the Future of the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Access to Knowledge Treaty, and the Adelphi Charter on Creativity, Innovation and Intellectual Property call for an end to further growth in intellectual property protection and demand that the World Intellectual Property Organization be more cognizant of the needs of developing countries in terms of expanding access to textbooks and other educational materials. However, the movement has yet to appreciate the value of significantly weakening copyright law in developing countries so as to maximize the flow of developed country artwork and media into developing countries. This position has been fully grasped in patent law with the calls for wider distribution of lifesaving drugs, yet the need is arguably as great with copyright; for freely accessible artwork, unlike freely distributed drugs, has the ability over the long term to alter how individuals think about human rights, freedom, the rule of law, democracy, and equality and hence to improve how countries fundamentally operate.