It has been an honour and privilege to be re-elected for a second term as President of the exco. I have worked with a very talented exco.
The reason why I have waited this long to write my message is because we were revamping our website. We have a new domain name and online payment of your fees is now going to happen.
This year’s theme is “IP and Users’ Rights”.
We have been focusing on the rights of IP owners for too long. As such, we need to refocus and balance the discussion. IP users not only have interests but rights, too.
Singapore and the region have developed and progressed. We are not only aware of the importance of IP to our economy but respect the rights of IP owners. We have stopped blatant copying. I can still remember the days when the prime minister of a neighbouring country saying that it serves the publishers right for pricing their books so high to be beyond the reach of most people. Therefore, we cannot be blamed for copying.
Concerns such as access will always be there. However, we now recognise them as IP users’ rights and not mere interests.
Users’ rights to education and information for copyrighted works underlines the premise for the Marakesh Treaty for the visually challenged. For pharmaceuticals, it is the right to health. The Doha Agreement for HIV drugs is a good example.
Are we going to let copyright owners extend the life of literary works from life of author plus 70 years to life of author plus 90 years? Or are we going to start considering IP in its proper context. Since most IP laws in the region meet the minimum standards set by TRIPS, the future discourse should be one where the rights and interests of both sides should be honestly explored.
We are half way into Singapore’s presidency of ASEAN. Are we ready to take the lead?
As one who believes that we should be the change that we want to be, LES Singapore shall start by having this theme emphasised in its seminars and other work. Please help us in making LES Singapore the bridge between IP owners and users in the world of commercialisation of IP.