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What are IP journalists doing wrong?

Increased interest in intellectual property has not necessarily resulted in a better understanding of IP rights or stronger support for them. How can the media help?

It’s not controversial to say that IP has become a sexy topic. Recent disputes such as the Apple v Samsung litigation helped to splash intellectual property on the front page of mainstream newspapers, and around the world, politicians, pundits and journalists are more likely than ever to talk about the IP-related aspects of topics from healthcare costs to international relations to nation building.

Their hearts are in the right place: Nearly 8 million YouTube clips carry a 'no infringement intended' disclaimer

Despite this increased media attention and interest, actual understanding of IP is less than ideal. In OHIM’s report on European perceptions of IP published this week, only 13% of those surveyed demonstrated what would qualify as a good understanding of intellectual property, even though 73% describe their understanding as good.

This disconnect between actual and perceived understanding of IP may help to explain the surprising hardiness of common misconceptions about intellectual property, such as the belief that adding a “no copyright infringement intended” disclaimer to a YouTube video immunises the uploader from liability or the video from takedown.

Beyond YouTube video provisos, there are some very real consequences for rights owners. For example, supporters of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement say that the opposition had a poor understanding of the treaty and its effect on intellectual property (although, one may argue, they would say that, wouldn't they).

WIPO and the IP Office of Singapore (IPOS) believe that journalists may be able to help. On Monday, the two organisations are hosting a seminar in Singapore entitled “Intellectual Property is Big News: Regional Seminar for Senior Editors”, which aims to bring together journalists to discuss how to cover IP-related news in a more interesting and compelling way (disclaimer: I will be speaking at the event). The two-day seminar will feature speakers from WIPO and IPOS as well as practitioners and executives from private industry speaking about the importance of IP. Confirmed speakers include Denis Croze, director of WIPO’s Singapore office, Ang Kwee Tiang of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and Reuben Lee, CEO of XMI.

So, a question for MIP readers: as an IP professional, what suggestions do you have for journalists who want to do a better job at covering intellectual property news? What are some common mistakes to avoid? Do let us know via Twitter (@managingip) or in the comments section below.

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