Respect for intellectual property, providing users appropriate access

Monday, February 7, 2011

Without creators there would be no users. It must be made clear that this is a subject where mutual respect is essential. It is necessary to address these fundamental questions calmly, each freely expressing his point of view, so that an agreement may be reached and guidelines adopted to promote creativity, for the benefit of those who listen to, read or watch the result of this distinctive talent of the human species, the spiritual cornerstone support that dispels fatalism or any unappeasable sentiment. It is precisely an “efficient interaction” that promotes the creative capacity of each unique human being. Never are all either spectators or creators. We are all both creators and spectators. All of us should be capable of inventing our own course, our daily lives, never accepting that anything is inevitable.

The constitution of UNESCO, the intellectual organization of the United Nations system that I had the honor to direct for several years, mentions intellectual property as a common good that warrants protection, so that through education that liberates rather than enslaves, defenses of peace may be constructed in the minds of men. And the Universal Declaration of Human rights underscores the extreme care that all of us should take to protect human beings’ unique power to think, imagine, innovate and create!

It is incoherent to pay for so many things –including and primarily, technology- while refusing to contribute relatively modest amounts to creative activity (whether it be literature, poetry, music, painting, recordings, film, photography, or art in general).

Reproduction rights or copyright ensure that royalties, which should be reasonable, are paid to intellectual property creators during their lifetimes and for a period thereafter, set forth in each country’s legislation, to the family members and relatives designated by the creators. In that regard, as Director General of UNESCO I proposed that when a work enters the "public domain" and no longer generates royalties, small amounts should still be charged to finance a fund to aid and promote young creators or those who due to the nature of their works merit special consideration. Can you imagine how much the reproduction of the works of Mozart, Goya or Cervantes… would benefit musicians, artists or writers today?

No, it wouldn’t be right to continue to pay for the container and not for the content. Transparency on the part of all is essential in reaching an expedient solution. And a clear distinction must be made between the interests of creators and the so-called “cultural industry”, which can reach far beyond the intellectual activity that we seek to respect.

Internet deficiencies and abuses should be made known, preventing technology from prevailing over talent. Today Internet users play a very important role and they will do so even more in the future: for this reason it is urgent that we immediately and sensibly address all aspects of this complex world of communication. No freedom should be restricted.

Creators, users, service providers… talking around a table. Talking brings understanding. May all of them receive adequate guarantees to address their concerns, with the representatives and arbitrators already in place, so the their rights may be respected and there may be many more users to promote creative activity in themselves and in others.

To regulate downloads France has created a governmental agency, the “High Authority for the Dissemination of Works and Protection of Rights in Internet” (HADOPI). Everything indicates that it would be better to seek less bureaucratic formulas to provide for the rapid intervention of arbitrators and, if warranted, the courts.

To resolve really relevant matters, harassment and positions of force just don’t work. Obstinacy is never good counsel. In reality, such behavior never yields anything positive.

Let’s all promote creativity. It’s our common hope, especially in such uncertain and turbulent times.