Book review: Reforming Intellectual Property

This is a book review of Reforming Intellectual Property, edited by Gustavo Ghidini, Professor Emeritus, University of Milan and Senior Professor of Intellectual Property and Competition Law, LUISS University and Valeria Falce, Jean Monnet Professor in European Innovation Policy, European University of Rome. 

This edited collection brings together 19 contributors (Irene Calboli, Vincenzo Di Cataldo, Peter Drahos, Rochelle C. Dreyfuss, Séverine Dusollier, Christophe Geiger, Johanna Gibson, Jane C. Ginsburg, Robin Jacob, Duncan Matthews, Jerome H. Reichman, Marco Ricolfi, Jens Schovsbo, Martin Senftleben, Hanns Ullrich, Michel Vivant, Guido Westkamp, Hong Xue, and Peter K. Yu) to explore the future of their fields within intellectual property.

Each author was asked by the editors to discuss an area of reform in IP that they deemed a priority in relation to the public good. The editors explain in the preface that they requested authors to bring a personal narrative rather than a standard law journal approach. The topics covered include non-traditional trade marks, a research exemption, patents and public goods, authors’ remuneration, access to medicines, copyright and digital platforms, user-generated content and many more! The editors describe the collection as a happily diverse mosaic of the future of IP. 

While there are 19 chapters to choose from, here is further detail on a couple of this Kat’s favourites. 

All Words and No Performance: A Revolution in Copyright Through Performance in Sound, by Johanna Gibson 

Gibson begins by pointing out that the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances, which mandates moral rights for audiovisual performers, has yet to be ratified by inter alia the United States and the United Kingdom. This Kat is thus reminded of how long it has taken for her to get around to this review, because the UK has since announced that it is now implementing the Treaty and a consultation is underway!  

Nevertheless, Gibson’s chapter remains relevant and insightful. She focuses on film and copyright’s auteurism through the nature of performers and their rights to set out an understanding of the welfare dimension of potential reform. She writes “is there a need for reform in performers’ rights? A resounding yes. This call for reform of performers’ rights is responding critically to the social and economic framing of creativity and performance, as well as to the cultural selectivity of copyright’s frame.”

What Single Reform? By Sir Robin Jacob

If there was a category in the IPKat Book of the Year Awards for best line, the 2023 winner, for me, would undoubtedly be Sir Robin Jacob, for this:

My topmost reform I cannot have: It would require reform of human beings, not laws.

No spoilers here as to what it is! Jacob then turns to his “less ambitious idea” of an “International Intellectual Property Treaty with just three Articles.” Yes, three! Three beautifully simple and yet remarkably useful Articles, written in the tone that only Sir Robin can get away with (equal parts charm and scorn). 

Article 1 No Member State shall create any new or extended intellectual property right unless it can prove that such new or extended right will benefit humanity of the present and the future.

Article 2 Each Member State shall review its existing intellectual property laws with a view to restricting them or expanding them so as better to benefit humanity of the present or the future.

Article 3 The parties agree to hold an international conference at least every five years with a view to agreeing improvements to all intellectual property laws so as better to benefit humanity of the present or the future.

Sign. Me. Up. If readers only read one thing over the upcoming festive break, let it be this jolly sensible chapter.

This book will be of relevance to intellectual property scholars, students, and practitioners. It will be particularly enjoyable for those with an interest in IP reform and those looking for unique insights delivered in a refreshingly digestible narrative. The editors’ request of the authors to bring their personal perspective was certainly adhered to, the passion for the authors’ proposals seeps through the pages and readers cannot resist but to be swept away into a land of possibilities! 


Available in hardback and ebook 

Extent: 352

ISBN: 978 1 80392 224 9

Book review: Reforming Intellectual Property Book review: Reforming Intellectual Property Reviewed by Hayleigh Bosher on Tuesday, December 12, 2023 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Sir Robin Jacob is great. Of that there is no doubt given his continuing influence in development of IP case law, but his comments sound like the US Supreme Court's intention of not allowing the 'building blocks of innovation' to be monopolised in decisions Mayo, Alice and Myriad. The US Federal Circuit was unable to give these words any real meaning in subsequent decisions. Sir Robin has ignored the word 'commons' that previously defined what is shared by all humanity and could not be fenced off for private use. It is not fashionable now to talk about the commons even though the internet now connects everyone and humanity is facing hue global challenges. This is probably because the related idea of 'socialism' remains a bad word for many. However that means we have no real framework for turning good intentions into viable policies.


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