by Diane Cabell and Geoffrey Kirkman
with Rebecca Brackley
The first three modules of this series have set out a number of strategies
for using information and communications technologies (“ICTs”)
as development tools. Whether the focus is developing an ICT infrastructure,
leveraging ICTs to promote learning, or encouraging local digital entrepreneurship,
policy is essential both to support these strategies and to decide among
them in the allocation of limited resources. You have already looked at
some specific policy levers that can be used in the pursuit of these strategies;
in this module , we locate these strategies in the broader context of
policymaking and provide a framework for understanding the difficult choices
and tradeoffs that decision-makers face as they assess proposals for and
develop policies aimed at tapping into the potential of ICTs for economic
growth and development.
First, we will explore frameworks for decision-making that highlight
some key factors that should be taken into account in designing strategies
for bringing the Internet and other ICTs to the developing world and in
constructing models for decision-making that bring together multiple stakeholders.
We will examine the critical role of technological infrastructure, culture,
politics, economics, the law, leadership and vision and demonstrate their
complex interaction in the real world. We will then illustrate how these
difficult choices are being made in the context of a debate concerning
the appropriate role of intellectual property rights (“IPR”)
in support of ICT for development.
As you work through this module, consider how the perspective of the
policymaker and/or stakeholder impacts the way choices are framed, what
interests are considered relevant and the decisions that are ultimately
made. How would your decisions be affected by your position as a consultant
to the United Nations, a policymaker for an NGO, the president of a European
software company or ISP seeking foreign investment opportunities, the
CEO of a western aid organization providing humanitarian relief, the Minister
of Communications of an African nation, an elementary school teacher in
Latin America or a representative of the World Trade Organization? What
solutions would you propose for reconciling the divergent interests of
multiple stakeholders to promote the economic and social development of
the country as a whole?
Frameworks for Decision-Making
The Networked Readiness Factors
The Networked Readiness Index is an attempt to quantitatively assess
a country’s capacity to exploit the opportunities of ICTs relative
to other countries. In doing so, the index sets out the factors that contribute
to the ability to leverage ICTs. The confluence of the enabling factors
(Network Access, Network Policy, Networked Society and Networked Economy)
provides a basis for analyzing the ability and potential of a country/community
to participate in the Networked World, taking into account the interplay
of factors and the larger social, political and economic context. In this
way, the index was designed to assist policymakers by providing critical
information for more informed decision-making and encouraging decision-makers
to think through the relevant stakeholder interests and tradeoffs a priori
to avoid unintended consequences that may be difficult or impossible to
Please read Chapter 2 of the “Global Information Technology Report
2001-2002: Readiness for the Networked World,” at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/itg/libpubs/gitrr2002_ch02.pdf.
As you are reading this chapter, consider the following: What factors
may be missing from the index? What do the Networked Readiness factors
suggest for designing and evaluating an ICT strategy? Do the relative
strengths and weaknesses highlighted in the index and the sub and micro-indexes
provide a basis for prioritizing ICT initiatives (e.g. choosing between
investments in infrastructure, education or the creation of incentives
for foreign investment in local business)? What can you extrapolate about
the impact that ICT’s have on local competitiveness, economic growth
and social development? What are the elements that must be present in
order to realize the “digital dividends” of ICTs? What are
the disadvantages? How does the difficulty of predicting future technologies
affect the decision-making process? How much value does the index add
to a national policy decision-making process?
One thing should be clear after reading the Networked Readiness Index
chapter – ICT policy is not exclusively about ICTs. Rather, the
ways in which any community adopts new technologies depend on both ICT-specific
issues such as cost and connectivity, but also on a range of policies,
environmental conditions and factors that make up the backbone of that
community’s economy and society more generally. ICTs are merely
a tool that is available for use by all sectors of a community. This would
suggest that as many voices and stakeholders that can be brought into
the planning discussion, the better.
Decision Making Processes: Balancing Multiple Stakeholder
Interests in the Allocation of Limited Resources
Creating a dialogue within local communities
Understanding the factors that impact ICT and development is an important
first step toward informed and meaningful development decisions. However,
selecting, developing and implementing digital development initiatives
also requires a dialogue among and balancing of the interests of multiple
stakeholders, including governments, the local private sector, foreign
investors and end users. Geoffrey Kirkman describes how the development
community can play a role in facilitating the decision-making process
by bringing together multiple stakeholders in this audio
Consider alternative ways of bringing together multiple stakeholders
in a participatory and transparent process. See, for example, Section
3.2 of “Creating a Development Dynamic: The Final Report of the
Digital Opportunity Initiative”, discussing the need for “strategic
compacts” to support decision-making in this area: http://www.markle.org/news/DigitalOpportunityInitiativeFinalReport.pdf
[go to page 40]. Camella Rhone, Director of General of Jamaica's Ministry
of Industry, Commerce and Technology explains the critical importance
of strategic partnerships in this
audio clip. See also the suggestions made by the UNED Forum for designing
multiple stakeholder processes (“MSPs”) in the sustainable
development context and consider their application to the development
of ICT strategies: http://www.mx.novartis.com/novartiswm/responsabilidad_social/perspectivas2_stakeholder.html.
Finally, see the recommendations of Geoffrey Kirkman and Jeffrey Sachs
in the following article calling for national leadership that brings together
the public, private and non-profit sectors: http://www.worldlink.co.uk/stories/storyReader$523.
As you think about alternative MSPs, consider the following: Who is best
placed to coordinate the process? How important is democratic politics
to the process (e.g., Does it matter whether the government has the institutional
structures and expertise in place to organize the process? Do all the
stakeholders have the necessary skills and education to represent themselves
in the process?) How would you define the relevant stakeholders? What
interests are likely to be left out or underrepresented in the process?
How would you deal with differences in power? How would participation
be linked to official decision making processes (e.g., Will a consensus
be required? Will there be a conflict resolution process? How will bias
and corruption be dealt with?)? How important is coordination (e.g., If
each industry developed its own ICT systems without regard to others,
what impact would this have on interconnectedness, access and future development)?
And perhaps most importantly, is a collaborative decision-making process
realistic in most countries?
Creating an ICT vision
Bringing together multiple stakeholders requires leadership and a vision
for how ICTs can enhance the opportunities within a country. This vision
may come from government, from international development organizations,
from the local private sector, from the NGO community/civil society or
from a joint vision among any of these actors. As you read this section,
consider the factors that determine which model works best in a particular
country and what each model means for the kinds of strategies and MSPs
that are likely to be adopted.
A variety of approaches have been taken by national level governments
to deal with the incorporation of ICTs into their economies and societies.
The preponderance of “e-strategies” around the world has led
some governments to create new Ministries or Secretariats that are meant
to coordinate overall ICT strategies. For example, Egypt created a new
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to implement its
national ICT plan (see http://www.amcham.org.eg/BSAC/StudiesSeries/Report39.asp).
Other governments have given existing government bodies, such as the
Ministry of Commerce, Finance, Telecommunications or at the level of the
head of state, effective control over ICT issues. For example, the Secretary
of Transportation and Communications and the Secretary of the Economy
are spearheading the implementation of the E-Mexico strategy (see http://www.alentejodigital.pt/rosadopereira/egov/Mexico/E-Mexico_Overview__Aug._12_.doc).
Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each of these approaches
in terms of coordination, complexity, cost, territory, politics and control.
Still other countries have not centralized the process within government,
with little effort to coordinate the myriad organic ICT initiatives and
projects that have arisen within the government and the country-at-large.
- Private Sector Leadership
In the absence of government leadership, the private sector may take
the lead in creating and implementing an ICT strategy. See for example,
the following recommendations regarding the potential input of the private
sector in the Dominican Republic (please read the Introduction and Chapter
2 - page 38): http://www.media.mit.edu/%7Egkirkman/DominicanNetworkedReadiness.pdf.
Given the lack of political continuity and the scarcity of public funds
for technology projects in many countries, is it appropriate or advisable
for the private sector to take a major role in providing leadership in
the area of ICTs?
- International/Non-Profit Leadership
In some cases, where neither the government nor the private sector within
developing countries have shown initiative to develop their own policies
for ICT , international organizations such as the World Bank, the International
Telecommunications Union, and the United Nations Development Programme
have stepped in to jumpstart an ICT strategy. See for example, the role
that the UNDP is currently playing in Vietnam at http://www.undp.org.vn/undp/unews/mr/2003/eng/0402e.htm.
Finally, in some countries, strategic ICT plans have grown out of the
symbiotic relationships between government, the private sector and non-profit
organizations. See for example, the following e-learning strategy that
emerged out of the relationship between Coca-Cola, the UNDP and the local
government in Malaysia: http://www.undp.org/dpa/frontpagearchive/2002/march/06mar02/index.html.
The Importance of Sustained Leadership
Lack of sustained leadership can be fatal to a promising “e-strategy”.
Without sustained leadership and commitment of resources, many strategies
are not realized. We have to critically analyze the global efforts to
implement e-strategies in terms of delivering results – this is
certainly needed to better understand how policy intentions have had a
real input. Shaukat Valitov, the Global Internet Policy Initiative representative
in Uzbekistan, describes some of the challenges of implementing ICT initiatives
in these audio clips: clip
Striking the Balance: Some Examples
The ICT strategies that have emerged out of these complex decision-making
processes are varied, nuanced and contextual. They illustrate two critical
points about decision-making in this context: (i) the possibilities are
endless – decisions may be limited to some degree by specific contextual
factors, but even within those limits there is no shortage of potential
goals, innovative approaches or allocations of resources from which to
choose , and (ii) there is no “one size fits all” solution
to ICTs as a source of economic growth and development.
Compare for example the approach taken by Costa Rica which focuses on
ICT as a production sector and potential export market (http://www.opt-init.org/framework/pages/appendix3Case2.html)
or the Cyberpark initiative of the Dominican Republic to create Internet
related jobs and attract high tech investment and innovation (http://www.dr-opin.com/climate/featured.html)
with the approach taken by Estonia to leverage broad-based ICT connectivity
and access to further national social and economic objectives (http://www.opt-init.org/framework/pages/appendix3Case3.html)
or the Jamaican focus on fostering access (audio
Some final questions about the question of top-down approaches to developing
a national ICT strategy – is it necessary for every country to map
out how it will use ICTs as a national resource? Has the movement to create
national e-strategies been successful in creating economic growth and
opportunity? Should countries rely on more laissez-faire approaches and
let the diffusion and use of ICTs be determined purely by market mechanisms?
In a recent interview, Camella Rhone, Director General of Jamaica's Ministry
of Industry, Commerce and Technology, describes her experiences as a decision-maker
in this field. As you listen to these excerpts from the interview, think
about the dynamic interplay of the factors discussed in this section and
how they relate to official decision making. What are the critical challenges
that decision makers face in implementing a national strategy? Do you
agree with Camella's prescription for success? Is a national vision that
has the support of multiple stake-holders the most important factor?
1 | Excerpt
2 | Excerpt
3 | Excerpt
Intellectual Property Policies for ICTs
In the previous section we looked at the role that policy plays in providing
an overarching framework for deciding among ICT strategies.
But policy also plays a critical role in support of other digital development
strategies and as a strategy in its own right. For this reason, Network
Policy is one of the key enabling factors under the Networked Readiness
Index. Many countries do not have appropriate telecommunications policies,
laws that enable e-commerce transactions, a domain name system for the
administration of top-level country-code domains or even basic laws regarding
contracts and property that are a necessary backdrop for local digital
entrepreneurship, foreign investment and the development of an ICT infrastructure
in Module 2). Policies can also shape incentives for and the direction
of ICTs in important ways. The controversy surrounding the appropriate
role of IPR in digital development is an example. It is a debate that
illustrates the important role of policy to support and shape ICT strategies.
It also exemplifies the complexity of decision-making in this field, bringing
to light the interplay of law, technology, politics, economics and culture
and highlighting the important trade-offs that are inherent in policy
If you are unfamiliar with the basic concepts of intellectual property,
the following overviews of US law may provide some useful background for
this section of the module: Copyright: http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/index.html
Database protection in the US: http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/database.html
compared with database protection in the EU: http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Network/5054/marcos/autor/docs/dbase_eu.htm
Current Trends: The Push for International IPR and Harmonization
Many ICT proposals encourage southern nations to accede to and comply
with international intellectual property (“IP”) treaties.
Among the most prominent IP treaties are the Berne Convention for the
Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (http://www.law.cornell.edu/treaties/berne/overview.html)
and the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade- Related Aspects
of Intellectual Property Rights (“TRIPS”) (http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/t_agm0_e.htm).
In order to comply with these treaties, signatories must implement a prescribed
set of minimum IP protections in their national laws. While harmonization
of IP laws may facilitate international trade and foreign investment,
these treaties are not without their critics. In this audio
clip, Diane Cabell discusses the advantages and drawbacks of TRIPS
for developing countries, emphasizing the problems inherent in adopting
a single policy for all contexts.
Framing the Debate: Do IPR Regimes Help or Hinder Development?
Please read Chapter 5 of the multinational Commission on Intellectual
Property Rights’ report, “Integrating Intellectual Property
Rights into Development Policy,” at http://www.iprcommission.org/papers/text/final_report/chapter5htmfinal.htm.
As you read the chapter, consider the following questions: What interests
are really being protected and what interests are being harmed by international
IPR regimes? Is there any empirical or other evidence that suggests that
IPRs help or hinder development? How do intellectual property laws interact
with the politics of power, local culture and economics? Can a single
policy fit diverse nations with diverse industries, economies, cultures,
etc.? What are the costs of implementing international treaties? Can these
costs be justified in the context of limited resources? What other factors
are necessary for an IPR regime to produce the promised benefits in terms
of innovation and production (e.g. what educational and financial resources
are necessary to support innovation)?
In the following sections we will focus on five aspects of the debate
that are receiving the most critical attention in the ICT development
context: the implementation of TRIPS in the developing world, international
IP piracy, digital IPR, the protection of indigenous culture and open
source software. The answers to these questions will likely differ in
each nation. A treatment of e-commerce policy is outside the scope of
(a) Implementing TRIPS
Under its terms, TRIPS is slated to be implemented (with some exceptions)
in a number of developing countries within the next four years (see http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/t_agm7_e.htm).
The implementation of TRIPS raises important questions and creates critical
policy choices for developing countries. For example, will the threat
of trade sanctions or the lure of tied aid be sufficient to encourage
enforcement of these laws once they are on the books, or will there be
a significant gap between what the law provides and the reality of everyday
practice (see, for example, the situation in China described below)?
Assuming that developing countries comply with TRIPS, how should they
implement these directives? Note that TRIPS sets out certain minimum standards
but leaves it open to countries to provide more protection and allows
them some discretion in implementing even the minimum standards. Some
have argued, for example, that developing countries should adopt stronger
protections for indigenous traditional knowledge (see discussion below
under “Value Laden IPR and the Protection of Indigenous
Consider what role developed countries should play in the implementation
of TRIPS in the developing world. Article 67 of TRIPS provides for the
technical and financial cooperation of the developed world to ease the
cost and burden of TRIPS implementation. Similarly, Article 66.2 provides
for the developed country members to provide incentives with a view to
promoting and encouraging technology transfer to the developing world.
How can these provisions be meaningfully enacted?
Is the training and technology that will be traded in exchange for increased
IPR protections too outdated to make local industry competitive with other
nations? Is it too sophisticated to be absorbed by local industry or does
it provide too few rights to allow sophisticated local industries to effectively
use, adapt and improve it? Does access to the published patent actually
provide all the information necessary to use the invention locally, or
is critical unpublished “know how” excluded? Is the technology
that the receiving nation really needs even protected by patent or copyright
or is it more likely to be a trade secret that would never be shared?
(b) Intellectual Property Piracy
Intellectual property piracy in the developing world ranks among the
most contentious issues in the IP and development communities. How would
you balance the concern that IPR will stifle ICT development (because
developing countries cannot afford the required technology and know-how
at market prices) with the need to encourage foreign investment in the
ICT sector, support domestic innovation and promote a viable export market
in technology and creative products? Are there alternatives to TRIPS that
would accomplish these goals more effectively (for example, implementing
IP protections selectively for some IP products or for some nations)?
Consider the possible short and long term benefits of IPR for developing
countries and the developed world. Is the developed world (as net-exporters
of IP) the primary beneficiary of IP harmonization at the cost of developing
nations (as net-importers of IP who find pirated material much more affordable)?
Should the developed world (or the particular industries that most benefit
from IPR protection) donate their IP or tolerate piracy to promote third
world development in its early stages and to develop a market base for
the future or will it be impossible to turn the tide later once a culture
of piracy has become entrenched in the third world? Do digital technologies
that facilitate piracy globally, make this debate moot? (see discussion
below under “Digital IPR”).
How might international IPR treaties be revised to protect the “raw
materials” of development (and thereby reduce the need for piracy)?
There are protections, commonly built into IPR regimes and permitted by
TRIPS, that could potentially protect the developing world’s access
to certain fundamental tools of technology and information necessary to
support development. These protections take the form of limitations on the
scope and term of IP protection. It may be argued, however that these protections
do not go far enough – TRIPS, for example, does not provide a mechanism
for registration or identification of works in the public domain, does not
harmonize terms of IP protection, requires database protection, restricts
fair use where the use may affect the market of the copyright holder, gives
translators a copyright in translations, limits fair use for educational
purposes to non-commercial uses (thereby excluding many development projects
that are self-sustaining) and cuts short the first sale doctrine which protects
the activities of libraries. For an expression of the need to permit local
overrides of TRIPS, see the Doha Declaration (http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/min01_e/mindecl_trips_e.htm).
(c) Digital IPR
Developments in digital copyright have the potential to limit access
to digital resources, including public domain materials, in cyberspace
even further than traditional IP laws are able to do in the real world.
Because the Internet operates without borders, domestic policy can and
does have a global impact. For example, under U.S. laws that address (or
fail to address) copyright in a digital environment:
1) opening a webpage in a browser window involves making a RAM copy of
the content which can be an infringement,
2) the first sale doctrine which permits the owner of a legal copy of
a copyrighted work to share that copy with others is undercut,
3) copyright holders are not required to incorporate fair use rights into
digital rights management technologies,
4) there is no meaningful concept of fair use under the Digital Millenium
Copyright Act (http://www.loc.gov/copyright/legislation/dmca.pdf)
that would permit circumvention of a digital rights management system
for reasons that the local nation considers to be socially beneficial
5) in Europe (and under TRIPS), databases are protected by copyright,
notwithstanding that they are mere compilations of facts which are not
in themselves protected by copyright.
All of these policies limit worldwide access to and use of digital materials.
As developing countries come into compliance with TRIPS and define their
own digital IPR regimes, they too will define the rights of access to
and use of their national works globally.
The extra-jurisdictional application of domestic IPR regimes in the digital
context, raises some important questions for development. Will international
enforcement of IPR in cyberspace be effective or will international piracy
be facilitated by digital technologies? Will the promise of the Internet
to provide unprecedented access to information resources in support of
development be destroyed by technology through the use of “trusted
systems” that allow copyright owners to lock up their works and
demand access fees? In the absence of global harmonization, will the complexity
of multiple IPR regimes chill the use of foreign works (e.g. due to the
transaction costs and risks involved in ascertaining what is in the public
domain and what ones rights are in relation to the work)? What effect
will the development of technologies that reintroduce geographic boundaries
on the Internet have on development?
Developed and developing countries alike are struggling with these questions,
but little attention has been paid to how the solutions to these issues
will impact development. UNESCO is involved in a number of projects that
attempt to harness the potential of the Internet to bring information
and technology resources to developing countries through the digitization
and archival of public domain works (see http://www.unesco.org/webworld/public_domain/public_inf.html).
A critical barrier to the success of these and similar projects will be
IPR. Can you think of ways that the international copyright regime could
be restructured that would make the public domain more easily identifiable
Consider whether alternative IPR regimes or incentive structures are
possible that would be better suited to digital environments or to the
unique needs of developing countries. If we simply eliminated IPR in the
digital world, would works of scientific and artistic merit diminish or
would existing and new business models be adequate to support these industries?
What problems would result from government sponsorship of domestic arts
and sciences? What if a tax was imposed on digital recording media and
ISPs that would in turn be used to compensate copyright owners in digital
environments? Does digital IPR require an international solution or could
national schemes be effective? What kinds of national legislation would
promote the development of the Internet? For example, consider whether
service provider immunity from copyright infringement would be beneficial
for developing countries with IPR regimes.
(d) Value-Laden IPR and the Protection of
What values are implicit in international IPR? There is a growing body
of thought suggesting that international IPRs do not protect indigenous
cultures and may in fact be antithetical to the values and culture of
some indigenous peoples which do not recognize private property or individual
authorship. Indigenous works are frequently denied protection because
they do not fit easily within the dominant paradigm – oral, unfixed,
communally produced works, works that strive to maintain the integrity
of earlier works and works where the idea and expression merge are outside
of traditional copyright protections. The western world is free to appropriate
those elements of indigenous knowledge and culture and turn them into
commodified works that meet the requirements of copyright and patents.
In response to the growing concern that indigenous knowledge and culture
is being exploited by western IPR regimes, particularly by patenting biotechnology
for pharmaceutical use, some have suggested that special protections should
be afforded to indigenous cultural productions. For example, the Bellagio
Declaration suggests that while IPRs generally should be reduced, greater
protection should be afforded indigenous works (see http://users.ox.ac.uk/~wgtrr/bellagio.htm).
Indeed, many African countries have long-standing laws that protect their
folklore and traditional resources (see http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/openeconomies/okn/folklore.html).
However, these laws are largely enforced locally (v. internationally)
which may result in costs being assessed primarily against local people
who want to develop and build upon their own resources. An increasingly
important question for domestic and international IPR regimes is how to
balance protections for indigenous cultures in a way that preserves those
cultural resources for the benefit of indigenous peoples. If these issues
are not addressed, the potential of the Internet to facilitate local knowledge
sharing could be undermined because of indigenous concerns about international
exploitation of traditional knowledge and works.
The new methods of collaborative peer production that have emerged with
the Internet (discussed below) have some interesting parallels to cultural
production in indigenous communities. The idea of a common resource that
is collectively produced and controlled and preserved for the benefit
of the group (rather than “owned” in the traditional sense)
is challenging the assumption of the individual author as creative genius
that underlies current theories of intellectual property. As western IPR
regimes find ways to accommodate (and even encourage) this new model of
production, we may find that indigenous cultural productions find more
protection as well. As we discuss in the next section on open source software,
the symmetry between peer production on the Internet and indigenous modes
of production may also suggest the appropriateness of some tools for development
(e) Open Source v. Proprietary Software
Open source software is the product of a promising new model of production
made possible by the Internet, which has been aptly termed “peer
production.” In the software context, peer production involves the
open sharing of source code with the public and encouragement of the development
of derivative improvements by that public (which improvements may in turn
be contributed back to the commons for further development). This eliminates
the social and financial cost of having to create common software routines
anew for each client. The kernel of common source code is free to all.
Some open source communities impose a “viral licensing” scheme
whereby anyone who uses the open source code to develop modifications
must offer those modifications back to the community on the same free
basis. The most widely used example is the Gnu General Public License
Other open source communities will permit private ownership of these modifications
which may provide an open source programmer’s main revenue supply.
While access to free code greatly reduces the cost of acquiring software,
many developing nations simply do not have enough local programmers to
develop the necessary customizations and technical support for widespread
This development creates important policy choices for developing countries.
Is open source software a more appropriate development tool? When is this
the case? What is the best way to facilitate the right mix of proprietary
and open source development? Are local laws technologically neutral so
they do not lock the nation into software that can become rapidly outdated?
These are important questions for countries that are in nascent stages
of technological development as these choices have the potential to shape
other choices, creating domino and network effects that are not easily
Some developing countries, convinced of the advantages of open source
software over more traditional proprietary software, have sought to encourage
or even mandate open source software. For example, in 1998 the Mexican
government decided to run only Linux in 140,000 computer labs in its elementary
and secondary schools. Peru has introduced legislation requiring use of
open source alternatives. (http://mirror.opensource.dk/docs/bill-EngTrans.php)
As you listen to the following debate regarding the appropriateness of
open source software for the developing world, consider how a policy favoring
open source would impact infrastructure, entrepreneurship, learning and
other policy choices: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu:8080/ml/index.pl?nodeid=34970&view=1.
1. Readiness for the Networked World: An ICT Strategy for Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is a country with a primarily agricultural economy and severely
underdeveloped ICT infrastructure. The percentage of Internet users is
only .6% of the population (rising to 5.5% in the capital city of Tashkent).
At the end of 2000, there were 1.8 million main telephone lines, constituting
an average of 6.8 lines per 100 people. The mobile telephone network is
even more poorly developed with only 0.4 telephones per 100 people. In
2001, the United Nations Development Programme identified ICT as a priority
area for intervention in support of national development and, with the
support of the national government, commissioned a report on e-readiness
in Uzbekistan. The report outlines a strategy for stimulating ICT use
in the Republic to achieve its development goals of “economic growth,
raising living standards and modernizing cultural activity”. Please
skim the report, at http://ndaventures.com/Uzbek_UNDP_ereadiness_assessment.pdf.
Among the reports proposals are a plan to improve ICT infrastructure,
adopt policies that encourage private investment and privatization of
state owned ICT enterprises.
What values are implicit in the proposal? Consider the proposal’s
assertion that a “genuine commitment to the free flow of information
in society speeds the transition to a market economy and dramatically
improves social welfare.” Should the international development community
seek to harness the democratizing effects of new technologies in Uzbekistan
or is this a form of cultural imperialism? To what extent does the report
assume that Uzbekistan wants what the developing world has? Are cultural
and political differences respected?
Are compromises between competing interests reflected in the proposal?
Consider whether education and training are adequately prioritized. What
factors are missing in the proposal? Consider whether there are cultural
barriers to implementation that are not addressed (for example, is it
possible that the people of the Republic will fear government misuse of
new technologies as tools of censorship and control given the uneasy political
history of the country and uncertain political future).
Who will be the beneficiaries of the reports proposals? Consider how
the initiatives may be financed.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of private versus public ownership
of ICT infrastructure?
Do you agree with the report’s assertion that the greatest threat
to a national ICT strategy is “to not act fast or aggressively enough”?
In a recent interview, Shaukat Valitov, the Global Internet Policy Initiative
(GIPI) representative in Uzbekistan, describes GIPI's projects in Uzbekistan
to foster Internet development. As you listen to these excerpts from the
interview, think about the role of NGOs in the development process. What
are the important contributions? Are there any risks?
1 | Excerpt
2 | Excerpt
2. China’s Intellectual Property (Piracy) Regime
China has had intellectual property laws that meet the minimum standards
of TRIPS for a number of years. Yet despite formal recognition of IPR,
the country is widely considered to be one of the leading IP pirates of
the world. It is estimated that over 90% of computer software, music,
home video and entertainment products in China are pirated (http://subscript.bna.com/SAMPLES/ptd.nsf/85256269004a99228525625400656cb3/4d9c50eea1edd85185256b740006aecb?OpenDocument).
In 1995, China purchased on average only $1 of legitimate software per
desktop computer (http://www.info.gov.hk/ipd/eng/information/studyaids/piracy_hk_china_c.htm).
Piracy continues unabated because IP laws remain largely unenforced. With
its recent entry into the World Trade Organization and under increasing
international pressure, this may change. But a deeply rooted culture and
economy of IP piracy may be difficult to overcome and it is not clear
that it should be.
American industry loses an estimated $1.8 billion annually from lost
sales due to IP piracy in China (http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/02/14/HNpiracy_1.html).
Currently, these loses are largely the result of analog copying. However,
as broadband access becomes more widespread in China, digital theft is
expected to eclipse analog theft, creating losses which are incalculable
and which are already generating extraordinary anxiety among the executives
of America’s creative industries (see, for example the recent testimony
of Jack Valenti, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of
America, before the U.S. House Appropriations Committee at http://www.politechbot.com/docs/valenti.movies.testimony.042302.doc).
To some extent these losses are overstated – they presuppose that
Chinese consumers could afford and would purchase the genuine product
if pirated versions were not available. They also ignore the potential
offsetting benefits of piracy: the widespread availability of cheap US
products in China may have created increased appetites for US goods in
China which may in turn produce network effects that will allow the US
to reap the financial rewards of this “investment” when and
if intellectual property laws are ultimately enforced in China. Allowing
developing countries to pirate US resources now, creates a market for
the future that might not have otherwise existed. This may explain why
companies like Microsoft, Dell and others continue to invest in joint
ventures with Chinese software companies, despite lack of IPR protection
More importantly for our purposes however is the question of how China’s
system of IP piracy impacts development in China (particularly development
related to ICTs)? Piracy has produced a number of benefits for consumers
and creators alike in China. It is a highly profitable domestic industry
which creates jobs. For many villages, it is the primary industry. Piracy
has also increased the accessibility of goods that consumers might not
otherwise have been able to afford or which might be blocked from legitimate
distribution channels as a result of the Chinese government’s information
policies. These goods may in turn be freely used as the building blocks
for the development of China’s own industries. Futhermore, as concepts
of individual rights and private property are relatively new to China,
the current culture of piracy meshes well with the longstanding traditions
of communism and Confucianism.
The drawbacks however are also apparent. The country suffers from a lack
of direct foreign investment in the technology sector and may face trade
sanctions through the WTO. Consumers may be denied access to the highest
quality and latest versions of software which US and European companies
refuse to release in China and the ability to identify quality goods has
been diminished (although this latter problem may be more a question of
insufficient attribution than soft IPR per se).
Perhaps the most interesting and challenging question relates to the
impact of soft IPR on domestic innovation. Based on current IP theories,
one might expect that domestic innovation would suffer from a lack of
economic incentives. The evidence however is not that clear. China has
failed to develop significant export markets for its technological and
creative products (e.g. China’s global market share in computer
software is less than 1.2% - http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2002/09/26/piracy_unlimited/).
Still, there is at least some evidence that China has maintained robust
creative and software industries, made possible in part through piracy.
Linux is much more common in China than in the U.S., with some industry
watchers predicting that the biggest advances in Linux and open source
development in the next year will emanate from China (http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/28689.html).
Zhongguancun (the so-called Silicon Valley of China) is said to be a thriving
technology district, with over 4500 computer companies, “most of
them seat-of- the pants start-ups trying to devise the world’s next
computer gadget or killer application that will put Bill Gates to shame.”
The district is reported to “have grown 30% a year for the past
11 years, with all its companies totaling 45 billion RMB (US$5.5 billion)
in sales.”How is China sustaining such innovation and creativity
in the absence of IPR? China provides an alternative model for providing
incentives to creators by state sponsorship of its computer and creative
industries and by providing non-economic rewards . See (http://www.virtualchina.com/archive/infotech/
What is the net effect of soft IPR in China for development (particularly
the development of technology industries)? Does it help or hinder development?
Does it help some industries more than others and, if so, which ones are
more valuable to the local economy? This has yet to be determined in any
empirical way, and may well depend on who you ask and what you consider
to be the relevant timeframe and development goals.
Peter Feng addresses issues of IP piracy from the perspective of China,
in the following lecture presented at the World Bank Conference on IP
in Developing Countries: (optional) http://www.worldbank.org/wbi/B-SPAN/Intellectual%20property/sub_intellprop10.htm.
Compare this approach with the other approaches presented at the conference
(for example, the WTO perspective at http://www.worldbank.org/wbi/B-SPAN/Intellectual%20property/sub_intellprop11.htm).
For more information, see the webcast lectures from the Internet Political
Economy Forum on Internet and Development in Asia: http://www.ipef.org/events/ipef2001/webcast.asp.
It is interesting to note that the US was at one time itself an “international
pirate”. It used the IP tools of other nations to springboard its
own IP industries. It was not until these industries were developed to
a point where the US became a net-exporter of IP products, that the US
began to be concerned with international enforcement of intellectual property.
It has been suggested that developing countries should likewise be permitted
to follow a similar path. Does this evolutionary model of IPR ring true
or does it ignore important cultural and economic differences between
Does the napsterization of the music industry in the US and elsewhere
shift the question from “how do we enforce IPR in China” to
“how do we protect intellectual property anywhere in a world of
digital media and the Internet? ” Should the developing world be
looking to China and other countries without effective IPR for alternatives
to IP in the digital age?
The questions provided below are intended to serve as examples only.
Please feel free to discuss any of the questions raised throughout this
module or any other questions/concerns you may have.
1. ICT initiatives from the outside should respect and reflect the culture,
values and preferences of the country being developed. Western values
should not be presumed or imposed. Discuss.
2. ICT initiatives should focus on privatization of telecommunications
infrastructure and attracting foreign investment. Discuss. Are there alternative
economic models to tap into the potential of ICTs?
3. Politics, culture and education are among the largest barriers to
ICT adoption in the developing world. How should ICT policymakers address
and prioritize these issues?
4. Do intellectual property rights help or hinder development? Are there
other IPR regimes or alternatives to IPR that make more sense for developing
5. Is open source software a viable solution to the high cost of proprietary
technologies? What are the alternatives?
To go to H2O, click
To go to WebBoard, click
1. You are a clerk to the Minister of Education in Rwanda and have been
asked to prepare a memorandum evaluating a proposal from Microsoft to
donate 2 computers (fully equipped with the latest proprietary software)
to every school in the country in exchange for an exclusive agreement
to use Microsoft’s operating system and web browser throughout the
government and a commitment to increase efforts (in cooperation with Microsoft)
to crack down on software piracy in the country. Prepare a brief memorandum
outlining your recommendations.
If you would like to post
your response for comment, please note that it is posted for comment
in the header of your post(e.g. “Response to Assignment: Posted
Frameworks/Tools for Decision Making
E-readiness tools and resources: http://www.bridges.org/resources/ereadiness.html
The Global Information Technology Report 2001-2002: Readiness for the
Networked World http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/itg/libpubs/gitr.html
Human Development Report 2001: Making New Technologies Work for Human
Networked Readiness Profiles of 75 Countries, from the 2001-2002 Global
Information Technology Report: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/itg/libpubs/profiles.html
Regional Electronic Commerce Initiatives: Findings from Three Case Studies
on the Development of Regional Electronic Commerce Initiatives: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/itg/libpubs/andes%20pubs/Regional_Ecommerce.pdf
Interview with Camella Rhone: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/ml/index.pl?nodeid=35020&view=1
Interview with Shaukat Valitov: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/ml/index.pl?nodeid=35013&view=1
Intellectual Property Rights and Development
Full text of the Report of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights,
Integrating Intellectual Property Rights and Development Policy, including
Panel discussion on how IPRs relate to economic development and the role
of the World Bank:“Intellectual Property Rights and Economic Development:
An Agenda for World Bank Group” at http://www.worldbank.org/html/fpd/technet/sem-sums/march5.htm
Information and links to reports on IPR and development issues: the ELDIS
Intellectual Property Resource Guide at http://www.eldis.org/ipr/
For information on the impact of IPR harmonization on developing countries,
see Kim Nayyer’s “Globalization of Information: Intellectual
Property Law Implications”: http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue7_1/nayyer/
Intellectual Property Piracy
Information and links on IP piracy issues: http://www.caslon.com.au/ipguide21.htm#questions
Reports on piracy’s impact on China’s software industry:
Kraig Hill et al, “Globalization of Intellectual Property in the
21st Century”: http://www.law.wayne.edu/litman/papers/casrip.html
Fair Use under the DMCA and the proposed Digital Media Consumers Rights
Digital First Sale: http://www.mttlr.org/volnine/Calaba.pdf
Protection of Indigenous Knowledge in Digital Environments
Cultural Property Protection: International and U.S. Current Affairs,
Molly Torsen: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/bold/devel03/torsentk.html
Information and links on the protection of cultural expression and traditional
knowledge of Indigenous people (communities and individuals) in the digital
environment, see: http://www.caslon.com.au/ipguide12.htm
World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/afr/ik/what.htm
Traditional music in digital environment: http://www.culturalsurvival.org/newpage/publications/csq/article.cfm?id=07DDD859-0468-428C-97CF-74752D951D52
Indigenous Digital Libraries: http://www.dlib.org/dlib/may02/sullivan/05sullivan.html;
Indigenous ownership of digital materials and museums: http://www.alia.org.au/conferences/alia2000/proceedings/dawn.casey.html
Open Source Software and Collaborative Development
Peer production models: http://www.benkler.org/CoasesPenguin.html
Collaborative development of open content in Africa: http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_2/keats/index.html#k5
Reports on open source software in the developing world: http://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=6049;
The following exercise is intended to illustrate the complexity of decision
making in this area. It is illustrative only and not intended to fully
canvass all of the issues or possible outcomes. After you have made your
choices, feel free to explore the other links.
The Choice between Proprietary and Open Software
You have been asked to advise the Government of Croatia, on a strategy
for encouraging computer use in schools, businesses and homes throughout
the country. In addition, the country would like to develop its own computer
software industry as a potential export industry for the future. The government
believes that the country has the human resources necessary to achieve
this goal, but it lacks the financial resources to invest in the software.
You would (click on an answer):
(a) encourage (or even mandate) the development
of open source software
(b) ask Microsoft and Dell to donate older versions
of their proprietary software applications
(c) invest in the latest proprietary software but
deploy it to a small group of technological entrepreneurs
(d) invest in one copy of the latest proprietary
software and allow pirated copies to fill the remaining demand