The issues of access to information and intellectual property (IP) rights are fundamentally intertwined. A properly calibrated IP system is one of several factors that can facilitate access to information by protecting incentives to create and disseminate content while simultaneously safeguarding the human rights of freedom of expression, communication and cultural participation. Equilibrium in IP law, policy and practice is affected by a number of key issues and institutions.
Information and knowledge are crucial factors in human development. We are reminded of this constantly, from the “knowledge economy” we live in, to the emotional and financial power that information and communications technologies (ICTs) have over our lives. In the words of philosopher Francis Bacon, “Scientia potentia est” – knowledge itself is power. Present-day movements for access to knowledge and the right to information have their origins in this simple and arguably ancient idea.
Freedom of expression and the free flow of information and knowledge are essential to democratic societies. Therefore the focus of this year’s Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) report is “access to online information and knowledge – advancing human rights and democracy”.
GISWatch aims to be a leading platform for civil society perspectives on the state of the information society. Through encouraging individuals and organisations to contribute, it also aims to strengthen and support networking platforms, and build capacity in research, analysis and writing.
Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) 2009 is the third in a series of yearly reports critically covering the state of the information society from the perspectives of civil society organisations across the world. GISWatch has three interrelated goals: