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The Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest

It has been several years now since I last taught my seminar on intellectual and cultural property issues in folklore and ethnology and I have not succeeded in keeping up with recent developments. In this context, I am especially glad that so many of my favorite colleagues have taken up work in this area. Thanks go to one of them, Alex Dent (Associate Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University and Associate Editor of Anthropological Quarterly [a awesome not-for-profit journal in its 84th year]) for calling to my attention the The Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest. I have signed the statement as an expression of my basic values in this realm and I support the project. Even if you feel differently, reading the declaration is a valuable learning experience. I urge folks with concerns about where we are and where we are going to take a look. Here is an excerpt.

The next decade is likely to be determinative. A quarter century of adverse changes in the international intellectual property system are on the cusp of becoming effectively irreversible, at least in the lives of present generations. Intellectual property can promote innovation, creativity and cultural development. But an old proverb teaches that “it is possible to have too much of a good thing,” and that adage certainly applies here. The burden falls on public interest advocates to make a coordinated, evidence-based case for a critical reexamination of intellectual property maximalism at every level of government, and in every appropriate institutional setting, as well as to pursue alternatives that may blunt the force of intellectual property expansionism.

Find the whole document in its organization, institutional, and policy context online at Thanks Alex!

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