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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  1. identicon
    John Doe, 7 Jul 2009 @ 11:46am

    The Information Age...

    I guess it should be no surprise that with this being the Information Age, IP will be treated as property. The thing we should be considering is; if I were not P, then wouldn't we be better off? Would there really be no incentive to work on the I part without the P part?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Reed (profile), 7 Jul 2009 @ 11:51am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Joel, 7 Jul 2009 @ 11:51am

    I think he's just sore

    I think he's just sore that his "Method of Converting Crackers and Wine into Flesh and Blood" got rejected by the USPTO.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    John Doe, 7 Jul 2009 @ 11:58am

    Re: I think he's just sore

    That patent would actually belong to God. But he doesn't need to file a patent since we wouldn't be able to duplicate it anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2009 @ 12:11pm

    It's funny that he talks about IP considering you can't take pictures in the sistine chapel since some German company paid to rehabilitate the frescos and in payment they get sole right to recreate them for X number of years.

    So... it's hundreds of years old, but still under copyright?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2009 @ 12:27pm

    fuck the pope

    that dumbass catholic fuck's opinion means jack shit

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    MadCow, 7 Jul 2009 @ 12:36pm

    "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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Dante, 7 Jul 2009 @ 1:12pm

    Wow, How difficult it was to see that this would be come an anti-Catholic forum to bash the Pope. On the internet? Never.

    @Anonymous CowardProverbs 15:1; "A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise." I'm not one
    to quote the Bible on-line, but it seemed fitting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    John, 7 Jul 2009 @ 1:24pm

    Not supporting that speach

    On this sentence:

    "Grave imbalances are produced," he writes, "when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution."

    I cannot advocate theft.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Dante, 7 Jul 2009 @ 1:31pm

    @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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Blaise Alleyne, 7 Jul 2009 @ 2:15pm


    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]

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Mike, 7 Jul 2009 @ 2:48pm

    Even a broken clock is right two times a day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Bob V, 7 Jul 2009 @ 2:53pm


    unless its digital then it just dont work

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jul 2009 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re: I think he's just sore

    No such patent exists, though you might have evidence of prior art...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Sebastian, 8 Jul 2009 @ 2:59pm

    Re: The Information Age...

    Hi there! Regarding the post and this particular comment, we've created a post some weeks ago that talks about IP, information age and the new technologies around it. Can you give us your opinion? Say goodbye to collaboration thanks!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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