Words by c.z.robertson

Intellectual property everywhere

2001-02-12 01:00:00 UTC

The front page of The Guardian today has two stories concerning patents: The battle between the USA and third-world countries over generic drugs, and the human genome project. For the latter, though, they didn't seem to want to actually mention patents. However, tonight's Newsnight was a little bolder about the issue and went so far as to relate these two issues and the Napster case as all being about intellectual property. I think that's the first time I've seen such a connection made in mainstream media.

It's been a long time coming, but I think the mainstream media is slowly coming to the realisation that there is an issue here. What's more, they're starting to see the connections between all these different issues. It still all seems strangely limited, as if they're just dipping their toes into the water, unsure of how far it extends. And, of course, they can't describe something so abstract without making reference to people dying and personal conflicts.

I'm cautiously optimistic that this could go further, that over the coming months we'll see questions raised about intellectual property in general. On the other hand it may just be a blip, and of course, newspapers have an interest in preserving copyrights... We'll see.