IP vs. human rights --- says the WSJ

From: Kragen Sitaker (kragen@pobox.com)
Date: Mon Mar 19 2001 - 18:39:54 PST

Today's equivalent of the environmental movement: the battle for the
public domain, the bedrock under every other freedom. This is the
first positive press coverage I've seen of the anti-IP movement.

>From the 2001-03-19 WSJ:

Drug Makers' Battle Is One Over Ideas


South Africa was the last nation in the civilized world to abandon
    state-sanctioned racism, but it is becoming one of the first to
    give up on state-sanctioned pharmaceuticals patents. This time, it
    may be setting the trend.

The big drug companies understand this. That is why they are embroiled
    in an otherwise ludicrous fight in Pretoria, challenging that
    nation's law allowing importation of cheap generics without
    permission of the patent owner. As a public-relations tactic, this
    is a loser. The drug industry has thrown itself between millions
    of dying Africans and their only hope of salvation. But, the drug
    giants correctly see the camel's nose nuzzling into their
    gold-trimmed tents. For them, this isn't about AIDS, or about
    preserving profits in South Africa; it is about preserving profits

Talk of trimming the industry's patents is even simmering in the
    Washington [sic], where the big drug companies just spent a small
    fortune touting their interests in the past election. The talk
    isn't just among price-fixing Democrats [sic], who got little of
    that campaign cash. GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona plans hearings
    on the subject next month. Gail Wilensky, who ran the Medicare
    system in the last Bush administration and is an adviser [sic] to a
    number of Republican members of Congress, has been talking up the
    idea of rolling back patent protection as a free-market alternative
    to price controls.

        "Rethinking whether we are in [sic] exactly the right
        balance point on intellectual-property rights is a
        reasonable response" to the outcry over drug prices, Ms.
        Wilensky says...

... Patent and copyright policy is the kind of arcane issue to which
    the public pays little attention. That allows monied interests to
    rule. In the case of pharmaceuticals, a pioneering paper by the
    National Institute of Health Care Management last year proved the

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