Kamil Idris: Rethinking International Agreements in a Digital Age

Globalization has already changed the rules of international norms, and the paradigms of free trade. But now, in Heidi Harris’ article called “Intellectual Property in the Digital Age, with Kamil Idris on the pitfalls of Globalization”, she discusses how technology has added even more factors to this discussion. Technology has allowed for innovation, but has also created disputes over the ownership of ideas. She states that intellectual property rights are crucial to protect ideals, but they also have created new issues, as patents are controlled mainly by powerful companies and countries that have the necessary resources.

Kamil Idris, is the former director of the WIPO, and has a vast amount of experience dealing with intellectual property on a global and state level. He argues that globalization has driven an export heavy global market, and with this, the growth of patents has skyrocketed. This has not only opened up the doors for piracy and counterfeit issues, but it also has caused new issues involving disparity. Many third world countries, mainly in Africa, have not been able to keep up with the purchasing power of wealthy countries, and have fallen behind in the sphere of patents and intellectual property. The WTO has already acknowledged that reform needs to occur in these fields.

For example, the WIPO Copyright Treaty, is an old agreement, first signed in 1887 during the Berne Conference in Switzerland. This agreement has looked to protect intellectual property in the forms of science, literature, and art. It is likely that this needs to expand more to the digital age as well. Another important agreement is the The Agreement of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property. This is considered to be the most comprehensive agreement yet signed, and it is one of the first to be based strictly around regulations in the digital age. It is looking to create protections and accountability. As technology progresses, changes will be made to how we look at free markets and the liberalization of information. New agreements will be crucial to these changes, and how we move ahead.