The Intellectual Property Counter Essay Contest

4 September 2001: A note from:

Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Fellow Activists:

WIPOUT, an international organisation consisting of academics, artists, musicians, and other activists, is today (Sept. 4) launching the Intellectual Property Counter Essay Contest on its website,

The multi-lingual essay contest has been organised in response to the World Intellectual Property Organisation's (WIPO's) own competition announced earlier this year. The counter contest is intended to challenge the over-protection of intellectual property (IP) which is doing much damage to education, health care, the environment, and economic security for millions around the world.

Entrants are being asked to address the same topic that WIPO has posed: WHAT DOES INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY MEAN TO YOU IN YOUR DAILY LIFE? We expect the counter contest essays to be rather more critical than those that WIPO is soliciting.

The website also has a space for shorter 'Point of View' pieces on the same topic for those who have something to say, but do not want to write an essay.

WIPOUT's contest will continue from 4 September until 15 March 2002. The winning essays will be chosen by an international panel of judges and the results announced on 26 April 2002, the same day that WIPO announces the winners of its contest. WIPOUT's prize fund currently totals £1500.00 (approx. $US2100.00).

Unlike submissions to most essay contests, WIPOUT's essays will be immediately posted on the website and accessible to all readers, not just the judges. And although WIPOUT is hosting a 'contest', we see the competitive aspect of the contest secondary to the purpose of enabling a public and critical debate on the over-protection of IP.?

More than 40 groups and individuals from 10 countries have, to date, announced their support for WIPOUT. (A complete list can be viewed at High- profile endorsers include Noam Chomsky, The Treatment Action Campaign of South Africa, the Gene Campaign of India, British barrister Michael Mansfield, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for the Public Domain in the US.

WIPOUT sees the contest as a way of building on recent high- profile issues such as the South African anti-HIV drugs case, the growing protests against the TRIPS agreement and the WTO, the Napster saga (and increasing resentment against the high price of CDs), the arrest and charging of Dmitry Skylarov, and public concern about GM crops and the patenting of human genes and plants.

The essays can be submitted to WIPOUT in English, French, German, and Spanish. A selection of initial essays, submitted for judging purposes or for the shorter non-judged "point of view" section of the website, has already been posted on the website.

Details of the WIPO contest can be found at:

So what can you do?

First, go and check our website,, and look at the contributions already posted. Then if you want to become a part of the contest and join in the campaign against the over-protection of intellectual property, you can:

  1. Most obviously, write an essay or a 'Point of View' and submit it to WIPOUT. It will then be posted on our website.
  2. Become an official endorser of the competition.
  3. Make a contribution to our prize fund.
  4. If you run a website, put a link to WIPOUT on your site (a .jpg button can be provided). We are happy to put a reciprocal link on our site.
  5. If your group or organisation publishes a newsletter/magazine, mention our launch. We have a launch essay we can supply for you.
  6. Download the Wipout poster and put it up in your workplace, university, school, or local shop.
  7. Spread the word. Tell others who may be interested by forwarding them this email. There are a lot of people in the world who are extremely unhappy with the effects of the excessive protection of IP. Give them the chance to say what they think

Finally, keep checking in coming weeks to read the new submissions. It shows there are others who share your views and want to do something.

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