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Globalisation

While the Information Society is arriving, and information is being enclosed, the world is also increasingly becoming globalized. States become ever more dependent on trade and foreign capital. Corporations are outgrowing the economies of many small and medium-sized nations, and the WTO and its treaties, are determining the agenda for international, and national regulations to an ever greater degree, also regarding IP, with the TRIPs.

Parallel to this, according to Manuel Castells, what he calls the divide, has shifted over time. Historically it was the divide between north and south, between the motherlands and the colonies. Then in 19th century it became the division between the haves and have-nots. And now it is increasingly becoming the distinction between the connected and the disconnected. This not just in terms of access to the internet, but also access to the knowledge and content it harbours. Currently the best connected are urban, well-educated, young males.

Historically the presence of, and amount of, IP-law was related to whether a nation exported more books than were imported. The United States for example did not sign the Berne Convention until 1986 (in response to corporate interest-groups), and at least until the 19th century argued that as a developing nation and a former colony it had a right to the English literature. But nowadays the former colonies are deprived even of this right, requiring them to become haves, before they can become connected in terms of access to content. Developing nations don't want or need IP-laws, but via WTO treaties they have been forced upon them in exchange for access to the world market.

What is the global welfare, or the interest of the global society in this context ? I think certainly not millions of people dying of AIDS because the enforcement of patents on AIDS-medicines in third world countries makes them too expensive for almost everyone living there. Especially if one remembers that 2/3rd of the funding for medical research is currently payed from tax-money, not from private investors or profits made on medicines. Thus if the third world - where almost no one can attain the needed marginal benefit of enclosed IP (in terms of western currencies) - is included in one's analysis, then the deadweight loss is literally immense.

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