Intellectual property rights can create scarcity in some types of expression. For example, copyright owners can entirely suppress some forms of speech by seeking injunctions against those who want to express themselves by means of unauthorized uses of copyright-protected material. Alternatively, if license fees for such uses are required, the cost of particular expression increases, sometimes prohibitively. These actions implicate the right to freedom of expression – a right that is found in many international and regional human rights instruments and domestic constitutions. Limits on access to the manifestations and products of culture and science also implicate other rights and freedoms. Informed political participation, for example, requires access to information, such as news reports and other media – and many sources of such information can be protected by copyright. These limits also implicate the human rights to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts, and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits – rights that are set for Thin Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
In this chapter, we first consider the range of philosophical rationales for the right to freedom of expression. We then survey some of the sources of the right in domestic, regional, and international law, and briefly consider rights to participate in culture and to benefit from scientific progress.