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Is IP a human right?

Creativity has led mankind to create many wonderful inventions that have been placed in the service of humanity. Protecting one’s inventions is essential and important in our current day-to-day, in part because one must make sure that the creator has rights to his or her own inventions. One of the many concerns arising from intellectual property is whether it should be considered a human right or not and, if so, what are the pros and cons of having IP labeled as such.

Human rights controversy

There has been a lot of debate whether one should place intellectual property in the same classification as the rights to life, liberty and freedom of expression. In some way, intellectual property and human rights do overlap. They do so because many healthcare inventions were being registered for trademark purposes and thus, it was assumed that intellectual property should be considered a human right since those medical creations were being placed at the service of humanity.

Nonetheless, the reason why intellectual property was created for commercial purposes only. There was no humanitarian intent behind it other than for creators to have the right to protect their inventions and to profit from them.

Advantages and disadvantages

There are many good reasons to consider intellectual property as a human right. For one, it was recognized by the UDHR and the ICESCR, saying that everyone has the right to protect their property from which he or she is the author.

However, one of the disadvantages of this point of view is that intellectual property, though important as it may be to safeguard someone’s right to profit and protect their inventions, is not as urgent as the right to life or liberty or any other human right. Therefore, some have come to argue the irrelevancy of having intellectual property considered as a human right.

One could argue either way, but the concept of intellectual property has grown to fascinate and divide people on whether it should be considered a fundamental human right or not. In the end, it is up for people to decide how to view it.