Monday 8 December 2014

IP, gender ... and copyright term

"WIPO Seminar Discusses Intellectual Property And Gender" is the title of a recent post on Intellectual Property Watch which relates to an event this blogger would quite like to have attended. Professor Dan Burk (University of California, Irvine) was the man of the moment, reviewing the most recent empirical research on gender issues in intellectual property law as well as potential ways forward to help ensure equitable systems of promoting innovation and creativity.

Most of the data concerned patents, but the title of the seminar suggested something else to this blogger: if copyright term is based on life expectancy, and the life expectancy of women outstrips that of men by around five years, might not there be a good case for leaving the period of post-mortem copyright protection of works authored by men at 70 years and reducing that for works authored by women to life plus 65 years so that a work might be expected to reach the public haven at the same time without regard to the gender of its author?

There again, problems would arise. For example, would a work co-authored by a man and a woman be affected where the woman outlived the man? And what would be the status of works authored by creators who had undergone gender reassignment, both before and after the reassignment?  Maybe leaving the same period of post-mortem protection for male and female-authored works isn't such a bad thing after all ...


Andy J said...

I sense your tongue might well have been in your cheek when you wrote, but your suggestion presupposes that someone, anyone who might have any influence over a decison to introduce a gender differential actually cares about the 'public haven'. If such altruism existed outside organisations such the EFF or the Pirate Party, we would have sensible fixed terms relating to the publication date, as is the case with patents and designs.

Luís Paulo said...

Considering there is a decent body of scholarship on conpyright & gender or on feminist critiques of copyright (eg. "My Fair Ladies: Sex, Gender, and Fair Use in Copyright, by Rebecca Tushnet), I am amazed that the questions the blogger comes up with are related only to life-expectancy...based on the presupposition that copyright terms are in fact based on life expectancy (try to explain Mexico's copyright term on that argument..).
There are a whole lot of deeper and more interesting issues on gender & copyright that deserve attention, I suggest whoever is interested to look at feminist critiques that have already dealt with those issues.