Law professor Graham Reynolds on the complexities of copyright
Graham Reynolds is an assistant professor in UBC’s Faculty of Law whose research and teaching focuses on copyright law and the intersection of intellectual property and human rights.
How does intellectual property affect human rights?
In recent years, we’ve seen an expansion of intellectual property rights. At the same time, we’ve seen more detailed articulations of human rights. Given this, it can be asked whether and to what extent intellectual property rights affect our ability to realize human rights. For example, what is the impact of patent protections on access to life saving medicines and the right to health?
What are some of the biggest issues in Canadian copyright law today?
One is whether the term of copyright in Canada will need to be increased as a result of Canada’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement negotiations. At issue is extending copyright in works from the life of the author plus 50 years to life plus 70.
A second issue is whether Canadian copyright law conflicts with freedom of expression, and, if so, to what extent our Copyright Act needs to be amended to ensure that freedom of expression is not unduly restricted. While copyright can be seen as an encouragement to authors to create (furthering freedom of expression), it can also be seen as restricting freedom of expression, in that under the Copyright Act, individuals are prohibited – in many contexts – from using works without the permission of the copyright owner. It’s a complex interplay.