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General Comment No. 17 on “Authors' Rights”

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Abstract

General Comment No. 17 on authors' rights is a comprehensive assessment of the normative content of article 15, paragraph 1(c) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the Covenant). Also, the obligations and violations are spelled out in great detail. It is found that the General Comment makes a clear distinction in principle between standard intellectual property rights and the protection given in accordance with article 15, paragraph 1(c). At the same time, the General Comment does not outline any specific tools for determining when an intellectual effort would result in human rights protection and when it would fall outside of the scope of this protection. Two clarifications have resulted in a positive reception of the General Comment among those who expressed criticism during the drafting. First, General Comment No. 17 acknowledges the need for human rights protection for local and indigenous communities. Second, General Comment No. 17 emphasizes the balance between the private interests of the authors and the other human rights recognized in the Covenant.

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