Policing Access to Knowledge: An Analysis of the Intellectual Property Prohibition Regime



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This dissertation is an analysis of criminal enforcement of digital copyrights. I argue that an international prohibition regime to govern intellectual property rights (IPR) has emerged through systems of international trade and law enforcement. The regime, or international system of norms and decision-making procedures, is supported primarily by the United States, the European Union, and multinational intellectual property industries, and these stakeholders are consistently creating measures to strengthen intellectual property (IP) enforcement to include criminal sanctions. The question guiding the research is how the governance of IP enforcement through the international prohibition regime affects the legitimacy of intellectual property law enforcement. I engage the research question through case study analysis that adopts a critical legal methodology and relevant stakeholder analysis.

The case studies occur in the European Union, where the standardization of copyright among member states takes place to strengthen the European Union?s common market. I conduct the case research through a critical legal analysis of policy documents, court cases, diplomatic cables, secondary sources and previous research on the cases. The two cases include the international police raid of the file sharing website OiNK?s Pink Palace and the formation of and protest against Spain?s Ley Sinde, a law created under U.S. pressures to strengthen Spanish copyrights. Two major findings are revealed: First, despite the difficulty of establishing digital copyright laws that legitimize criminal enforcement, police agencies are increasingly involved in the governance of intellectual property; second, the legitimacy of IP policy is contested by political actors when governance occurs through the mechanisms of a global prohibition regime. As a result of these conclusions, I recommend that Access to Knowledge (A2K) advocates and policy proposals confront the expansion of police enforcement of digital copyrights, and recommend further study into the phenomenon of criminal enforcement of copyright.