I wrote today a critical opinion piece to a local intellectual property lawyers magazine about the academic IP studies in Finland. The Finnish Academy funded seven university projects during 2001-2004. Yesterday the academy held a seminar where every project gave a presentation about what they had achieved. Practising lawyers – from a legislation drafter to patent attorney and corporate counsel – gave comments.
What I sensed was confusing. Just one of the projects wasn’t clearly politically hostile towards IPRs. Others had a bunch of critical views. Every argument type was used from economic theory (IPRs are inefficient) and developing nations (they need to free-ride) to human rights (freedom of speech etc.) and competition policy (IPRs are anti-competitive, of course).
Those practising the art didn’t buy the arguments at all. Many gave extremely critical comments. Are your policy recommendations just academic day-dreams, which can’t be implemented ever? Are you guys just following some fashionable international scholarly trends? Why don’t see the picture from corporate perspective? (Well, here is one possible answer)
I had to agree with those who delivered the critique. The researchers are wrong if they don’t answer to the needs of the Finnish industry and economy at large.
As a former “activist” of sorts I understand that it is relevant to bring dissending opinions into public policy discussions. Five years ago there didn’t really exist IPR policy discussion in Finland. But today the picture is different. We just had a 200-300 people demonstrating against the recent copyright law amendment. In this situation, I don’t think that every IP scholar in Finland should study IPRs from normative perspective. They have nothing to add. Moreover, there are many philosophers, social scientists etc. who are now studying IPRs as well and can perhaps bring some new insights into the public policy stuff. No one could do that yesterday.
I think IP scholars should start cooperating with the Finnish technology and media companies to bring their research agendas and goals more in line with the needs of the Finnish economy. I’ve been doing just that for over five years now. Forget repeating Lessig and his pals, they’re being heard everywhere by now. Go figure something original and useful.
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