Universal copyright: a step in the wrong direction?


Rahul Chaudhry

International co-operation on trademarks and patents is increasing, but there are worrying signs that for copyright, universality is reducing in importance, says Rahul Chaudhry.

The legal theory of rights states that a right is a legal benefit granted to a subject by the sovereign authority by means of its statutory or declaratory process. This implies that a legal right is necessarily restricted to the sphere of influence of the sovereign authority and is also limited to the extent granted by the sovereign.

These rights are often referred to as statutory rights. At the other end of the spectrum are natural rights: those that are inherent in man and universal in nature. These rights are not granted by any sovereign authority and have been referred to as the ‘inalienable’ rights of man.

While natural rights are not granted or contingent upon, in theory, any legislative process, their enforcement is a different matter. Intellectual property rights, particularly copyright, are deemed to be rights arising from the fruits of a man’s intellectual labour.

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