The Vatican Concerned About Intellectual Property

from the access-to-knowledge dept

Last year, we noted that in one of the Pope’s speeches, he had expressed concerns about how intellectual property laws were being used to hurt economic development and hold back things like medicines. It appears the Vatican has continued to study this subject. Jamie Love points us to a speech given by the Vatican’s representative to the UN, Archibishop Silvano M. Tomasi, at the WIPO meeting back in September, where he highlights worries by the Vatican about how intellectual property can stifle access to knowledge and economic growth, especially in developing countries. The statement is so much more accurate than almost anything you hear from a politician concerning intellectual property.

Unlike most claims from politicians that intellectual property only provides benefits, it notes that the economic research is “contradictory,” because while granting someone a monopoly certainly increases activity in those areas, it also limits other areas of growth:

Evidence to date is fragmented and somewhat contradictory, in part because many of the concepts involved have not yet been measured. A stronger system of protection could either enhance or limit economic growth. While strengthening IPRs has potential for enhancing growth and development in the proper circumstances, it might also raise difficult economic and social costs. Indeed, developing economies could experience net welfare losses in the short run because many of the costs of protection could emerge earlier than the dynamic benefits. This situation explains why it is often difficult to organize a convergence of interests in favor of reform of intellectual property in developing countries.

The adoption of stronger IPRs in developing countries is often defended by claims that this reform will attract significant new inflows of technology, a blossoming of local innovation and cultural industries, and a faster closing of the technology gap between developing and developed countries. It must be recognized, however, that improved IPRs by itself is highly unlikely to produce such benefits.

Of course, this actually applies to developed countries as well, but we’ll skip over that for now. Still, it’s nice to see at least some folks recognizing that intellectual property creates competing incentives, and that the only way to judge whether or not it’s a net benefit involves looking at both impacts.

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Comments on “The Vatican Concerned About Intellectual Property”

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14 Comments
Timm says:

Re: Re: Religion

Not the Catholic church I know. Until the 60’s status and political rise of clergy was based mainly on the wealth you brought in to the church through tiding or “forgiveness of sins” through your record of funds obtained through your efforts in the willing of wealth and property to the church. Many a rich family was made poor by the practice of
‘guaranteeing” a trip to heaven; the worse the sins the more you paid.

Don’t get me wrong, the church does wonderful things. But the old ways are still remembered by my generation.

Anonymous Coward says:

This position is simply supportive of IPR but recognizes that some PR is needed.

Pretty conventional position for corporate America and there is nothing there that in any way gets to grips with IPR – the whole philosophical question of whether it really can be a property.

Perhaps it’s just an effort by the church to rebuild relations with the rich and powerful.

That the Masnick fails to even try to analyze the position is disappointing ; time was when Masnick would have been all over that – he must be getting old or something.

Natanael L (profile) says:

Re: misguided

Wow, how constructive your post was. You even managed to get a few arguments in there. Or not.

For claiming that IPR is good for technology, you know awfully little about it. Your web site spits out this:

“Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@truereform.piausa.org and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.
More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
Additionally, a 500 Internal Server Error error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
Apache/2.2.16 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.2.16 OpenSSL/0.9.8e-fips-rhel5 mod_bwlimited/1.4 mod_fastcgi/2.4.6 Phusion_Passenger/2.2.5 Server at truereform.piausa.org Port 80″

But no maybe I have violated your copyrights even though you never wrote any of that?

By the way, how funny that you use open source, patent free, software. That really supports your entire cause for stronger “property rights”.

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