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The protection of intellectual property is a topic of intense
passion among designers, both among those seeking to protect their
own creations and those wishing to use creative works that they
presume to be in the public domain. Intellectual property law is
always a balancing act between how to encourage the sharing of
knowledge and how to encourage innovation. When it is applied to
design in an era that encourages co-creation—in which “open source”
is often confused with an “open sesame” to others' creativity, and
where popular culture has so many visual manifestations—the
conflicts can be dramatic.
At times AIGA will take a position on intellectual property law,
both in legislation and on regulations. However, it is important to
provide a set of principles that guide the positions we take. We
are proposing to use the
Adelphi Charter, developed by a team of legal experts convened
by the RSA, in Britain, as the
core beliefs guiding AIGA's stance on intellectual property law;
obviously, our positions become very specific in how the balance
articulated in the charter can be adapted to the interests of the
We welcome your comments on this framework of principles. Here
is the charter, in its entirety:
Humanity's capacity to generate new ideas and knowledge is its
greatest asset. It is the source of art, science, innovation and
economic development. Without it, individuals and societies
This creative imagination requires access to the ideas, learning
and culture of others, past and present. Human rights call on us to
ensure that everyone can create, access, use and share information
and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and societies to
achieve their full potential.
Creativity and investment should be recognized and rewarded. The
purpose of intellectual property law (such as copyright and
patents) should be, now as it was in the past, to ensure both the
sharing of knowledge and the rewarding of innovation.
The expansion in the law's breadth, scope and term over the last
30 years has resulted in an intellectual property regime which is
radically out of line with modern technological, economic and
social trends. This threatens the chain of creativity and
innovation on which we and future generations depend.
We call upon governments and the international community to
adopt these principles:
In making decisions about intellectual property law, governments
should adhere to these rules:
Please contribute your feedback on the terms of
the charter by adding a comment. AIGA will be gathering input
until September 15 and will develop its own version of the
framework in late 2010.
Richard Grefé is the executive director of AIGA, the professional association for design. While guiding all of AIGA’s activities, his most significant contributions are in strategy, formulating new initiatives to enhance the competitive success of designers
and advocating the value of design to business, government and the public.
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