While it's likely that this is just a lot of posturing before a diplomatic resolution between the US and Brazil, it may pay to watch what the Brazilian government does in the near future. Brazil made some news last week for its strong support of open source software as a way of helping to inexpensively push computer literacy throughout the country. However, it appears their views on intellectual property have gone much further. Ernest Miller points out that Brazil is talking about ignoring all intellectual property law from the US -- in some ways, actively encouraging people there to copy things. While the article presents the issue as a simple trade dispute (Brazilians pissed off about American cotton subsidies), another take on the matter suggests Brazil is really just concerned that they're wasting millions of dollars having to license anti-AIDS drugs from the US, when it would be much cheaper to produce generic versions within Brazil -- potentially saving millions of lives. This is, of course, brings up the old debate concerning the issue of patenting medication. If anyone can create a knockoff drug, the argument goes, the pharmaceutical industry won't be willing to spend so much on research and development to find new life saving drugs at all. In this situation, of course, Brazil has managed to freak out not just the pharmaceutical industry, but also the entertainment industry -- who warns that this will just turn into an escalation battle concerning trade between the two nations. That's probably true -- which is why it's unlikely to go very far. However, it certainly does raise plenty of issues that many developing nations are thinking about, wondering why they have to pay so much for goods that are just as easily copied. Even international observers have admitted that many developing nations would be much better off ignoring intellectual property rights -- something that has helped some nations in the past. It's easy to say these countries shouldn't do those things -- but it may be difficult to convince them why, when they see the benefits of ignoring those laws.
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