Last week I appeared on a panel on the Internet and intellectual property at the Canadian Council on International Law annual conference in Ottawa. My talk – Whither WIPO: Will WIPO Wither? – focused on the shift away from WIPO as a forum for international IP developments.
Whither WIPO: Will WIPO Wither?
November 11, 2011
Tags: acta / copyright / WIPO / world intellectual property organization
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A very interesting talk, and +1 for showing Wikileaks cables. Any plans for traveling down south by air?
The question is more: *should* we let WIPO wither? Because the talk made one thing clear: it’s *only* the USA that is doing forum-shopping to get their vested business interests the “outcomes they are looking for”. Diminished US influence on WIPO is a great news, and you should see the support the Palestinians are getting to use their UNESCO membership as an “in” towards WIPO, just to get the US out and rid of their stranglehold.
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry made some interesting statements here: http://www.wipo.int/about-wipo/en/dgo/speeches/dg_blueskyconf_11.html
“In order to effect a change in attitude, I believe that we need to re-formulate the question that most people see or hear about copyright and the Internet. People do not respond to being called pirates. Indeed, some, as we have seen, even make a pride of it. They would respond, I believe, to a challenge to sharing responsibility for cultural policy. We need to speak less in terms of piracy and more in terms of the threat to the financial viability of culture in the 21st Century, because it is this which is at risk if we do not have an effective, properly balanced copyright policy.”
This is obviously not going in a direction the US is looking for, but a direction that is going to be inevitable. Of course these people will be more likely to listen to “sharing responsibility for cultural policy” and “the financial viability of culture in the 21st Century”. This is of course not locking as much as possible behind the Great Copyright Wall and enforce, enforce, enforce which is exactly what the US wants (and not a lot of others).
So what should happen? Position WIPO as the #1 “global” IP organization, and the only authoratitive body within the UN. Keep going in the direction of a copyright policy that is geared towards economic viability of the *current* industry, i.e. supportive for the creation of new works, not works by people that have been dead for 40 years. As well, WIPO should be very loud and clear about this course change, not kept to 200+ page reports and talks for very selective audiences. With a realistic view of today’s technological environment and a noble cause, WIPO can be both meaningful and successful.
Just a little update regarding the Trans-Pacific “Partnership”:
“U.S. Representative Kevin Brady, who chairs a key trade subcommittee in the House of Representatives, said he understood from Obama administration officials that Canada, Mexico, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea have also made “very solid inquiries” about joining the talks.
Canadian Trade Minister Edward Fast did not rule out the possibility, but said Canada had not determined yet whether it was in its best interest.
“Obviously we’re following very closely what’s happening in the TPP. We’re certainly interested in exploring what Canadian involvement in that process would entail,” Fast said.”
It appears this would entail at least a copyright term extension, which would open a second front besides the one already warned about here: http://www.gutenberg.ca/