The Research Institute for Information Law & Policy (RIILP) was established on April 1, 2008, to conduct research projects that make a cross-cutting examination of legal systems related to the creation, dissemination and protection of information in the broad sense, including but not limited to information protected by intellectual property rights. The RIILP aims to improve and expand the law and policy approach to studying intellectual property protection, which was created and further developed by two large-scale research projects entitled “The Law and Policy of Intellectual Property: Building a New Global Framework” and “New Global Law and Policy for Multi-agential Governance”––two Hokkaido University research projects selected as a 21st Century Center of Excellence (COE) Program (2003-2008) and Global COE Program (2008-2013), respectively, by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).
Over the last two decades, information technology has become more and more advanced. The information society is about to enter a new stage due to the fact that controversies related to information society grow increasingly diverse and large-scale. The spread of the Internet has intensified conflict between the holders and users of copyrights and other related rights, and the advancements in biotechnology have led to the emergence of patent conundrums concerning the proprietization of human genetic code. Internationally, there have been rising frictions between developed and developing countries over the access to AIDS medicine and the protection of traditional knowledge because of entering the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs Agreement) into force.
The research findings of our 21st Century COE and GCOE Programs indicate that intellectual property rights must be weighed against values other than efficiency—for example, freedom of expression, free trade in chattels, competition or health protection—in order to resolve domestic and international frictions. Because it is difficult to measure the achieved degree of efficiency, intellectual property rights cannot be justified by using only consequentialism, which relies on the efficiency of adopting a specific system. For this reason, it is essential to look at the process leading up to the system adoption, but we have to also keep in mind that various biases are likely to arise in the legislative and policy formation process. It is thus important to prevent the occurrence of these biases and to ensure the protection of freedom and justice by making sure that the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government play roles aligned with their intrinsic functions and natures.
This law and policy analysis may become a fundamental theory for explaining the heart of not only law governing intellectual property but also that related to various other issues facing contemporary society in the increasingly information-driven age. Conventional legal studies are premised on tangible objects and therefore cannot provide effective solutions in today’s context where information is of definitive importance to social constructions. Traditional information law studies are also limited to issues in individual fields and do not look at the unique characteristics of information in comparison to tangible objects.
The RIILP aims to solve these problems by developing a new approach to studying information law and policy. This research will divide roles in policy making between the market as well as the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branches of government by problem area while keeping in mind such perspectives as the degree of efficiency, the securing of freedom and justice, and legitimacy through democratic or community decision. It will separate roles by applying the law and policy analysis of intellectual property protection created by our 21st Century COE and GCOE Programs to the regulation of personal information, competitive markets, and the Internet.
In addition to investing our research findings broadly in society, we plan to hold summer seminars for law practitioners as well as lectures for students in order to share information and knowledge and advance to a new level. The summer seminars will take a unique approach––they will offer a systematic commentary on intellectual property law based on a comprehensive understanding of court judgments, rather than providing explanations of individual topics.
Moreover, leveraging the international exchange of human resources developed to date as well as the international network created through the 21st Century COE and GCOE Programs, the RIILP will release its findings and other information internationally and play a role as a world-class research institute.
Professor of Law
Director, Research Institute for Information Law & Policy
Hokkaido University Graduate School of Law
Updated on February 22, 2014