Lücking, Stefan ; Pernicka, Susanne:
Knowledge Work and Intellectual Property Rights : New Challenges for Trade Unions.
In: Journal of Workplace Rights 14 (2010), No. 3, pp. 311–328.
In a society where knowledge has become the main factor of production, intellectual property rights are an important issue in social conflicts. However, in the current debate about the reform of intellectual property (IP) law, the trade unions are playing hardly any role, although the new regulations have an impact on employed and self-employed workers as well as on the power relationship of labor and capital. This article is intended to provide a theoretical discussion of IP law issues in the context of labor market changes. Using the example of software production, the article raises two questions: What kinds of strategies does management apply to control and exploit knowledge workers? How do software patents and free software practices affect their workplace rights? The article deals with these issues on the European Union (EU) and the national level by focusing on the role and behavior of German and Austrian unions. Although these unions have become increasingly aware of the impact of IP law, they are struggling to find a common position that is fitted to defend the rights of their highly skilled (potential) members. We conclude that unions should refrain from a blind adherence to strong intellectual property rights. They should rather contribute to the creation of a new balance between free access to knowledge and culture and the protection of the individual rights of workers.