Copyright has seen a spectacular rise in importance, both politically and legally, in recent decades. The digitisation of cultural and scientific goods has led many rights holders to see strengthened copyright protection as the only means of ensuring the survival of the cultural industry. To a large extent the rights holders’ quest for more legal protection has succeeded – today’s copyright protections are as strong and broad as never before.
According to Farida Shaheed, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, this has caused increasing tension between copyright law and human rights law. Her report on “Copyright policy and the right to science and culture” is diplomatically worded but argues strongly that we need to pay more attention to the human rights repercussions of granting authors – and rights holders – exclusive rights over authorial works.