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News Posted on September 22, 2017

Associate Dean Sunder Interviewed on Intellectual Property by Life of the Law

Senior Associate Dean Madhavi Sunder was interviewed on “In Studio,” a program produced by Life of the Law, regarding international intellectual property law. The episode was a follow-up to a recent Life of the Law feature report titled “Gift and Curse of Music: Haiti’s Fight for Copyright,” which explores issues related to copyright enforcement in Haiti and other developing countries.

Part of the problem, Sunder said, is that intellectual property laws generally are conceived as a means of stimulating invention and creativity in order to promote a society’s economic development, not as a protection for individual creators.

“The purpose of intellectual property is not to reward or recognize creators,” she said. “Creators think that’s what it’s about, that it’s there to protect them and give them that recognition, but in fact it’s to promote culture for the state’s sake.”

Compounding the problem for citizens in developing countries is that intellectual property rights laws are new and often poorly enforced, Sunder said.

“These intellectual property rights are brand new in developing countries all over the world,” said Sunder. “What hasn’t happened and what needs to happen is the creation of an intellectual property culture and infrastructure that educates the government and civil society about how these rights are beneficial to the local economy, how they can promote development as well as the importance of recognition of these authors for the creations that they’ve given us that enrich our lives. So there needs to be cultural education as well as legal education and then the enforcement authorities over time will come to see the broader, deeper role that these rights play in the local political economy.”

Life of the Law is a nonprofit project of the Tide Center that is supported by the National Science Foundation, Open Society Foundations, the Law and Society Association, and the Proteus Fund.

Madhavi Sunder is Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Law, and the Daniel J. Dykstra Endowed Chair at UC Davis School of Law. Her interests include intellectual property, law and culture studies, women’s rights, and international intellectual property.