Right to science and culture

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The right to science and culture is one of the economic, social and cultural rights claimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related documents of international human rights law. It recognizes that everyone has a right to participate in culture, to benefit from science and technology, and to protection of authorship.

Recognition under international law[edit]

The right to science and culture is expressed in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

The right to science and culture also appears in Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:

Related concepts and disambiguation[edit]

The right to science and culture is often referred to separately as "the right to take part in cultural life" "or the right to cultural participation" or "the right to culture," and "the right to benefit from scientific progress and its applications" or "the right to benefit from science" or "the right to science."

The term "cultural rights" may be used in at least three senses. It is most often used to refer to the concept protected by Article 27 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which assures minority groups the right to practice and preserve their languages, religions, art forms, and ways of life. Alternatively, the term "cultural rights" may be used to group both minority rights and the right to science and culture, which have a common origin in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration. Even more broadly, "cultural rights" may be used to refer to a larger category of economic, social and cultural rights, which may be understood to refer to the right to science and culture as well as the right to education.

Scholarly interpretation and advocacy[edit]

All human rights found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights require a process of interpretation to translate the broad principles into specific state obligations. This takes place through United Nations processes and in national courts. The process is strongly influenced by human rights scholars and human rights activists.

The right to science and culture remains at a relatively early stage in this process, in contrast to other human rights such as the right to health or the right to education that have already been the subject of more extensive elaboration and litigation.[1]

Some authors particularly active in this area include: Samantha Besson, Audrey R. Chapman, Yvonne Donders, Laurence Helfer, Lea Shaver, William Schabas, Jessica Wyndham, and Peter Yu.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is active in advocacy around the right to science and culture, with a particular focus on the rights and responsibilities of professional scientists.[2]

Official interpretations[edit]

The Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights has issued two General Comments interpreting portions of the right to science and culture. General Comment 17 and General Comment 21. The Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights, Farida Shaheed, addressed the right to science and culture in several reports between 2010 and 2015.[3]

Access to public domain works[edit]

Main article: Public domain

Thousands of works (books, pictures, music and films) in every country belong to the public domain and is a duty of every culture minister of every state to digitize, preserve and make them available and accessible public domain works for every citizen, since there are not restrictions or copyrights on them, and all these works belong to public domain in order to make more egalitarian access to culture in every country no matter the social status of the citizens.[4][5]

In 1971 Michael S. Hart started Project Gutenberg to digitize and preserve books on public domain first on Arpanet and after it on Internet. In 1996 Internet Archive was created by Brewster Kahle, a website to preserve books, audio, films and even websites. On January 2001 Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger launched wikipedia and in 2003 was launched wikisource. On 2005 Hugh McGuire launched LibriVox, a website created to record share of public domain books.

With time and new tools and technologies other projects where funded on websites like kickstarter, in 2005 Aaron Dunn created Musopen Project that aims to "set music free" by providing music to the public free of charge, without copyright restrictions. In May 2012 was released Open Goldberg Variations, a project created by Robert Douglas and interpreted by his wife Kimiko Douglas.

There are many countries and even continents that have done steps to meet this rights, one of them is European Union that in 2008 launched it's online library Europeana.

Relationship to intellectual property[edit]

In 2000 the United Nations Economic and Social Council Sub-commission on Human Rights suggested that the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights may violate the right to science and therefore conflict with international human rights law.[6]

See also[edit]