The rise of the digital age, and the growing influence of technology linked with globalism, has reshaped the paradigm of free trade, and liberalism. In Heidi Harris’ article “Intellectual Property in the Digital Age, with Kamil Idris on the pitfalls of Globalization“, she discusses how globalism is changing the rules, and while it has allowed for innovation, there is also a new controversy over protecting the ownership of ideas. Intellectual Property rights are very important to innovation and growth, but also they have created a world of haves and have-nots with wealthy and powerful countries controlling many of the patents.
The former director of the WIPO in Geneva, Switzerland, and he says that globalization has driven export markets, and the number of patents has also grown substantially. However, while there are pros to this, it has also opened the doors for piracy, intellectual theft, and counterfeiting. Also, some countries have benefitted, but others (mainly in Africa) have fallen behind. Idris believes this gap will only grow more as the digital age continues. The WTO has already recognized there needs to be more reform on the international scale, and is pushing to tailor policy involving the protection of intellectual property.
Idris has brought these issues to the world’s attention by being involved in the World Intellectual Property Day, which is on the 26th of April. Other than this, the WIPO Copyright Treaty has been a crucial foundation for global regulation to protect intellectual property. Created in 1887 at the Berne Convention, this agreement holds its member countries accountable to protecting scientific, artistic, and literary property. This however likely needs to be reformed for the digital age. Another treaty, that is considered to be the most comprehensive agreement so far created, is “The Agreement of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property.” This has created a framework for protecting intellectual property in the digital age, and will likely help to set a new paradigm for where regulation will go. In general, Idris believes globalism will reshape our thoughts of free markets, and reform is needed.