2L Dispatch: Nose, Meet Grindstone. Grindstone, Nose.

I’m not getting too much touristy stuff done lately because I’m hard at work on slamming some papers out. With any luck I can meet my scholarly obligations over the next week so that I’ll have a free hand to get out of Sydney and see some of greater New South Wales area. Most of my classes have intensive units of instruction at the beginning and several papers due along the way to the end of the semester, but not a whole lot in between. I managed to choose classes without exams, so rather than the high-pressure cram and worry final sprint I find myself doing more writing, and doing it (more) consistently. It feels kind of good, and simultaneously more and less scary than the horrors of my 1L year. Less, because in writing several papers I have more than one At-Bat, and more time in which to work so the soul-crushing weight is a little lighter. More because my legal writing and research class and finals aside, I haven’t done much law school writing. Finals were more a mad dash to info-dump and push my analysis out as quickly as I could without worrying about citations or the like. LWR was more about briefs and memos than the scholarly work they seem to expect of me here at UNSW.

I’m approaching the first deadlines right now, and so I am in a bit of a scramble to get the first round of papers done. I’ve been known to have something of a problem with procrastination, putting things off until the buzzing of the all-pervasive deadline of doom becomes unbearable. I’ve done a little better, but the lion’s share of the writing still lies ahead.

In choosing my classes at UNSW, I made it a point to opt for the more internationally-focused offerings. I did this both because I can foresee no future circumstance where having an in-depth knowledge of Australian sports law would be a benefit. I’m interested in getting the Australian perspective and everything, I just felt like studying more global issues would be better. Also, I’m still kind of sitting on the fence as to whether to focus on International law or intellectual property law so I think I’ll complement this semester with more IP classes in the spring.

The paper I’m avoiding working on by grinding out this blog post shares my position on the straddle of said theoretical fence. I’m exploring the degree to which the international harmonization of IP laws is good for economic development and social welfare. It’s exactly as exciting as it sounds. To be sure, these are big questions and I’m the type of person who tends to work out the Answers to Big Questions in the course of writing them. I lost count of the number of times I’ve created an outline for an argument and then found myself completely switching position once I waded in and the words started flowing.

Initially I wanted to go the route of arguing that the harmonization of these IP laws, as embodied by the TRIPS Agreement of the WTO and the TRIPS Plus standards that use it as a baseline, was bad for developing countries because it forced them to adopt the system of IP rights that heavily favor the bigger boys at the table. Does Indonesia really benefit from adopting the same copyright standard as the U.S.? Surely, one size does not fit all.

On the development side, it may well be true that the vast majority of patent holders in developing countries are multinational corporations and the jury is still out on the degree to which staunch IP laws actually spur innovation but I think at the very least it has to open the door for foreign investment. That can only be good for the developing countries.

Now, I think I am more or less convinced that robust IP protection can be good for the economic development of poorer countries, while at the same time having a negative effect on the social welfare. I think I have to conclude that economic good and social good are not always the same thing, and are not inextricably linked.

Oh, well. Back to work…

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