It is hard for Westerners to realize just how much we take for granted about intellectual property, and in particular, how much the property owner’s perspective--be it a corporation, government or creative artist--is embedded in our view of the world as the natural order of things.
While sharing and copying technologies are disrupting some of the ways we understanding “content,” when you visit a non-Western country like India, the spectrum of choices become broader. There is less timidity wrestling with questions like: should poor farmers pay inflated prices for patented genetically-engineered seeds? How long should patents be given for life-saving medicines that cost more than many make in a year? Should Indian universities spend millions on academic journals and articles? In the United States or other rich countries we may weigh both sides of these questions--the rights of the owner vs. the moral rights of the user--but there’s no question people elsewhere, such as in India, weigh them different given the questions of life and death or of poverty and development.