The European Parliament rejection of the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) in 2012 was a victory for democracy. The Parliament blocked a set of new global "Intellectual Property" rules, which aimed to create a new treaty of a few rich countries imposing the agenda of their industries on the world.
What is "intellectual property" anyway? When EU law-makers want to reinforce "intellectual property", what exactly are we committing ourselves to?
"Intellectual Property" can include patents and technologies, with copyright and the internet, brand names and rules for trade goods in transit, industrial design, the protection of geographical indications, and much more.
What all these legal tools have in common is that they give exclusive marketing rights to their owner for a period of time: in Europe at least 20 years for a patent, 70 years after the death of the author for copyright, 10 years and renewable for a trademark, and so on. But their legal structures and context differ. They should not be managed in the same way.
"More intellectual property rights" is a simplistic and unworkable solution. It is neither necessarily better for innovation and creation, nor for artists, scientists, smaller businesses, or even multinational corporations. It holds especially when artists and authors are forced to transfer their copyright to producers or publishers.
If the EU wants to promote research and innovation, it might be wise for it to rethink its system of idea-ownership, namely by making it more open to enterprises, public institutions and individuals - to create new business models.
But what could be a better system?
The intellectual property system of the future should provide a better balance between private rights and general interest.
Still, inventors and artists need appropriate remuneration, more transparency, and better protection from abuse by big corporations. This may include different forms of support. But most importantly, the money collected through copyright should really go to them.