Even The Pope Is Worried About The State Of Intellectual Property

from the didn't-see-that-coming dept

The US Constitution clearly states that the sole purpose of intellectual property monopolies is “to promote the progress of science and the useful arts.” For quite some time, we’ve felt that current intellectual property law does not live up to that challenge… and it appears that, of all people, the Pope may agree. Pope Benedict XVI is certainly not subject to the US Constitution, but Roberto Valenzuela alerts us to the Pope’s “Caritas in veritate” (Charity in Truth) that just came out today. In it, the Pope discusses what is progress and the importance of economic development, which makes for quite an interesting read, whether you are religious or not. The Pope talks about how economic development, prosperity and economic growth has helped lift many out of poverty and built up nations and created tremendous opportunities for people. However, he is worried about “malfunctions and dramatic problems” in the system. Such as? Well, intellectual property for one thing:

On the part of rich countries there is excessive zeal for protecting knowledge through an unduly rigid assertion of the right to intellectual property, especially in the field of health care

While there’s plenty that I don’t necessarily agree with, a lot of the talk certainly does appear to be pretty economically literate, suggesting that an overabundant focus on short term profits can do significant harm to long-term economic growth. He talks up the importance of increasing knowledge and research and better sharing the results of that research.

The impact of technology is a constant theme throughout the entire thing, with an entire section focused on technology towards the end, where he does worry that our fascination with technology its own sake often obscures the its overall impact. He talks about the responsible use of technology, but (and perhaps I’m reading too much into it) he doesn’t appear to be condemning technological progress, but noting that for its gains to be sustainable, people do need to think about the wider impact. However, I certainly disagree with his assessment that technology for things like social communications can have a direct moral implication, as opposed to being “neutral.”

It’s a worthwhile (if long) read, no matter where you stand on these issues — but the very fact that even the Pope is concerned about the excesses of intellectual property being used to harm economic and social development again suggests that this is a problem that is having a pretty wide impact.

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Comments on “Even The Pope Is Worried About The State Of Intellectual Property”

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15 Comments
Reed (profile) says:

Technology - Freedom or Slavery?

Technology can either free us or enslave us. It can give us more time to spend with friends and family or it can make it possible to spend even more time at work.

The question is where do we want technology to lead us? A Utopian future of unlimited resources proposed by Gene Roddenberry or something along the lines of 1984.

By ignoring the implications of technology and spending progressively more time on issues like Roe Vs Wade we are missing much more critical changes to our future. Privacy as we know it is quickly coming to an end thanks to many implementations of technology.

Cloning is real and genetically altering people is more than likely already happening. These uses of technology will have huge impacts on our society but no-one is considering them in open debate.

We need to think generations ahead into the future, this us what good planners do. The time for “here and now” politics has passed, we need real leadership not a lip-service. We owe it to future generations to start tackling the hard questions of our future now rather than passing the buck until it is too late.

Blaise Alleyne (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Well, I don’t think that’s about “copyright” in particular, but yeah, there are a whole bunch of problems with copyright in the Catholic Church right now. New translations of the mass, and the most popular hymn books are controlled by a for-profit corporation that often restricts usage (not maliciously, but their business model is built on controlling the way these things are used). [some examples]

MadCow says:

“fuck the pope” – That’s hardly a polite thing to say and no where near something intelligently crafted to let people know you’re a human being with rational thought. Try being respectful, even if you disagree with someone’s political/religious stance.

Also to Joel, I know you put it in quotes so I’m assuming you were referencing something specific. If not, they’re technically pieces of bread, not crackers.

Dante says:

@John: “I cannot advocate theft.”

He is simply saying the political action should encompass concepts that allow a proper allocation of some benefit to the poor. That may be as simple as advocating a partnership between a buisness, and a non-for-profit agency. Think Bill Gates Foundation. Your reading is oversimplistic at best, or perhaps you’re just trolling. Either way, you have it wrong.

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