Earlier this summer I spoke to a group of young telecom professionals from around the world at the United States Telecommunications Training Institute (USTTI), in a meeting here in
My topic was “Intellectual Property in the Digital Age.” And if this sounds like weighty stuff, well I guess it is. When I first went into this process I was thinking that this was an abstract, almost academic talk. But through the discussion, what I realized was just how much it could mean to Emerging Markets like the ones my group represented.
Now, let me say off the bat that I am not a complete authority on IP law. This was actually the first time presenting to this kind of audience. Naturally, I was eager to engage in conversation and debate with these professionals, because I am more convinced than ever that IP must be protected if Emerging Markets are to develop their own knowledge-based industries like software development. But, I didn’t always think of IP in this way.
Flashback to 1999….
Like many of you reading this blog, I was in college in 1999, the year Napster was born. I definitely remember when I met Napster in a college dorm room in
Fast-forward to 2007….
Since college I’ve traveled a bit more, and visited places where people live on $1 a day, where everyday life can be a struggle. In these cities and countries I have met with young entrepreneurs who write, produce and market their music, art, film and books. I met and heard people with things to say and beautiful music to offer, people who might some day be the Coltrane, Dylan or Mingus of a place like
So, back to the USTTI presentation. After introducing myself, I asked the group, “What is copyright infringement?” Hands shot up without hesitation and a gentleman from the
Similar to what I’ve found during my interactions and work with African and
And, while there are many new avenues to promote and gather information, but this also creates new challenges. From broadcasters to content providers, to technology pioneers and Government, it’s increasingly difficult to protect IP. Even if you aren’t a policy maker or broadcaster this does affect you. After all, at the end of the day we’re all consumers and quality matters.
You may be thinking, “So what? I’m still going to sign into a File Sharing P2P, because film and recording studios are raking in the dough…”, but hear me out. Now, maybe it was the fact that I was reading “The Wizard of Menlo Park” (about Thomas Edison) at the time of the presentation, but in our session in
And so I thought… WWTED (What Would Thomas Edison Do?) What would
So, yes, this is what I think it takes… building a network of pioneers of different ages, and from many sectors who can raise awareness, influence policy-makers and encourage creativity and innovation in Emerging Markets. This means collaboration between business, Government and consumers. Not just those in tech, but the young people who are filmmakers in Cameroon and artists in Uganda whose livelihood depends on selling original works that have taken months and years to complete.
It all comes back to
IP protection made