From Publishers Weekly
Economic scholars Drahos and Braithwaite painstakingly trace the history of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the international accord that has become a standard for resolving disputes over intellectual property rights, whether over bootleg videocassettes or unlicensed use of patented pharmaceutical processes. As corporations increasingly recognize copyrightable or patentable knowledge as a source of profit, they've exerted political influence to ensure that the financial reins stay within their hands. The authors clearly show how lobbyists from the entertainment industry, for example, use their clout with Washington to exert pressure on foreign markets so the U.S. industry can reap the most from films and compact discs. But these government-sanctioned "patent regimes" have resulted in an economic imbalance, which Drahos and Braithwaite depict as a "threat to liberty," where developing countries cannot afford access to medicine and technology without resorting to piracy. The authors carefully explain how copying software or making cheaper versions of patented drugs became equated with plunder on the high seas. There's frequent potential for digression, but the book stays resolutely focused on the diplomatic and corporate sides of the story, showing how less powerful countries had their interests pushed aside during the treaty process and have been reduced to dealing with a handful of intellectual property exporters who grow wealthy off poorer countries' dependency; the exporters also stifle creativity by their emphasis on exploiting economic advantage from intellectual property. The detailed account of negotiations and sanctions is highly academic, perfect for policy wonks but potentially alienating for general readers.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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"An excellent and compelling account. . . . A fascinating read for anyone interested in how the rules of the global knowledge economy are set." Oxfam
"If you want to know the real politics behind the new property rights . . . read this book." Dr. Vandana Shiva, author of Biopiracy and Protect or Plunder
"An important contribution to the ongoing concerns about colonialism and its effects on the maintenance of access to ideas and to knowledge as a public good." College Research & Libraries Journal