Student, Hugh Wooding Law School
We hear about "human rights" regularly and we seem to know a couple of them. The right to life; the right to liberty; the right to freedom of expression.But what about a person's intellectual property rights? Are those rights really "human rights?"
Human rights are those rights which you possess by virtue of being human, born free and equal in dignity.
Intellectual property rights are the rights given to people over the creations of their minds. They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time.Still not sure if intellectual property ('IP') rights are "human rights?"
Well Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that: "(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in the scientific advancement and its benefits; and (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic protection of which he is the author."
Now that we know that IP rights are human rights too, how do we protect them?There are various types of IP rights. For instance, a copyright allows its holder/originator to have the exclusive and assignable legal right for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, film, or record literary, artistic or musical material.
A month ago, there was a publicised feud on social media when an international artiste allegedly used a local photographer's work without permission or credit being given. A public uproar ensued, "there must be some violation of the photographer's rights?!"...
Trinidad and Tobago's Intellectual Property Office states that "Copyright is essential to human creativity. It gives creators incentives in the form of recognition and fair economic rewards. Creators can be assured that their works can be disseminated without fear or unauthorised copying. This will help increase access to and enhance the enjoyment of our culture, knowledge and entertainment all over the world."
What about a person's moral rights? The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) says that moral rights to a work not only belong to its author, but moral rights allow the author to take certain actions to preserve the personal link between himself and the work. In fact, the Berne Convention recognises moral rights as having underlying rights, namely: the right to paternity and the right to integrity.
The right to paternity is that right which allows an author to claim authorship of his work.The right to integrity affords an author the opportunity to object to any distortion or modification of his work among other things.So do you have any other intellectual property rights available to you besides copyright?
Of course! There are patents, industrial designs and trademarks among others.A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the good and services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. An industrial design constitutes the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an article.
So what's your take away from this article? You can be assured that you too have intellectual property rights as one of your human rights. So get creating and don't sleep on your rights!
This column is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should consult a legal adviser.