1 J. World Intell. Prop. 3 (1998)

handle is hein.journals/jwip1 and id is 1 raw text is: 






                                Interest or Right?

The Process and Politics of a Diplomatic Conference on Copyright



                                R.V.  Vaidyanatha AYYAR*



     In  acquiring new forces of production men change their mode of production; in changing their way of
     earning their living, they change all their social relations. The hand-mill will give you a society with the
     feudal lord; the steam-mill, a society with the industrial capitalist.

                                                                                    Karl Marx1



     Are   authors   and  other   rightholders   in intellectual  works   one   of the  interest
groups   in a society  or  are they  a privileged  group   with   absolute  rights? This  was  a
basic   question underlying the process of the World Intellectual Property
Organization (WiPo) Diplomatic Conference. Those who subscribe to the natural-
right  theory   of  copyright   take  offence   at rightholders   being   classified as interest
groups.


1. INTRODUCTION

     As   technological   paradigms   shift so  do  modes of production, and so do law,
custom and habit. The property of the mind2 is no exception. The history of
copyright   and  neighbouring rights3 is a fascinating tale of the adaptation of law to

    *  The author is a Senior Indian Civil Servant. He was the Leader of the Indian Delegation to the World
Intellectual Property Organization Diplomatic Conference on Certain Copyright and Neighbouring Rights
Questions, held in Geneva from 2 to 20 December 1996, and was also Chairman of the Drafting Committee
of that Conference.
    This article is written in his individual capacity and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the
organization he belongs to.
     1 Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, 1847.
     2 The title of a crisp survey on the challenge of the digital technologies to the copyright system:
Intellectual Property: The Property of the Mind, The Economist, 27 July 1996, pp. 62-63.
     3 By tradition, copyright is the right of authors of literary and artistic works, while neighbouring rights
are the rights of performers, producers of sound recordings and broadcasters. The distinction is not exactly
logical, and arose from the copyright ideology in civil-law countries unwilling to consider firms as being
eligible for copyright. The scope of copyright was wider and the term of protection longer than that of
neighbouring rights. In the Digital Age the historical distinction between copyright and neighbouring rights is
becoming  irrelevant, but the historical tradition is strong and is one of the major forces which guided the
process of the Conference. More of it in Section in of this article and footnote 31.

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