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[ossig] Asia Commons Day 1

The day started off with the keynote speakers, Peter Drahos and James
Love, talking about Intellectual Commons and the Public Domain.

I did not really take down notes of what James Love said as my personal
convictions were already in line with what he mentioned. What Peter
Drahos stated was that:

a) We already have many theories and analysis from an economic and
social perspectives, what's lacking now is a political philosophy of the
commons that allows for diversity to flourish.

b) IPR is a (legal) instrument of coercion.

c) The 3 Q's of politics:

1) How much say in new arrangement of IP?
2) Should we obey?
3) How much coercion should we tolerate over our rights?

d) John Stuart Mill's - "Experiments in Living"; we would want societies
that tolerate experiments in living

e) Information grows through use => Law of Repletion

f) Information is too important to be left to private monopolies

g) Information may not go into the public domain as they are
restrictions in different legislations (patent, copyright etc)

Of Jamie Love's presentation, what I found interesting was his
suggestion that we present an alternative to the IPR chapter in the FTA,
by replacing them by an A2K chapter or another relevant chapter. In
particular, he stated that there is a need to show economic incentives
to Washington when presenting such a chapter. I should speak to him soon
but I have not had an opportunity do so yet.

We had several other sessions that went into various other issues with
regards to the commons. Of particular interest was a session on software
patents. Laurent Elder led off that session with a patent spectrograph.
He put on the slides three statements regarding patents in Asia (use,
enforcement, efficacy) and asked the participants to arrange themselves
across the Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree line.

As was expected, the majority of the participants did not particularly
agree with either the fundamental concept of limited private monopolies
or with the enforcement and scope of the current patent model. What I
found particularly interesting was how little I knew about the patent
dynamics in the other Asian countries. Based on my discussions with the
other participants, it emerged that while the participants clearly
understood the issues with patenting biological products, there was not
as much awareness in software patents.

A presentation by Ronaldo Lemos from Brazil illustrated how a local
independent movie business model in Brazil allowed for local content
production without the passing of restrictive intellectual rights
legislation. It continues to amaze me how Brazil continues to take the
lead in civil society initiatives among developing countries.

Well, those were the salient points that I could gather. There are some
other presentations that I hope other participants could chime in and
fill the gaps :-)

Now about the participants. They come from all over the world with the
majority coming from Asia. Quite a few of those present are lawyers, and
those who are not are representatives from NGO's. From Malaysia, we have
a Creative Commons representative from the MDC, Khairil, myself and a
couple other people.

The political persuasions of the participants are diverse. Some feel
that the entire field of intellectual privileges should be demolished,
but I could gather no credible alternative. Others felt that some tuning
is required in the current legislation.

Coming from an free software background, it was slightly shocking that
not many participants understood the importance of foss to the commons
and why the newer forms of legislation will hurt foss. On the other
hand, it was also shocking how little I knew about other non-foss
intellectual right areas. So all in all, lots of knowledge was shared.

We had an evening cocktail in the evening and had a good opportunity to
meet the other participants. Discussions were extremely diverse - from
ways to get CC kicked off in Malaysia to human right violations in
Africa to operating ham radios to discussing ways of putting the current
copyright legislation to good use by stopping bad Thai renditions of
cheezy English pop music :-)

It's the second day now, will post latest observations in a day or so.


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