World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

WIPO may be in transition from its past promotion of a miximalist agenda for Patents, Copyright and Trademarks (PCT) to balancing these laws with an agenda that promotes creativity, innovation, and UN values such as international development (More via: EFF, CPTech, IPJustice). There is a growing international recognition that too much PCT can harm creativity and innovation, just as too little PCT can.

Is Canada trying to block a WIPO treaty for blind people's access to written material?

As the headline suggests I've become skeptical of the wide reporting of Canada's involvement in trying to stop a WIPO treaty that would facilitate grater access for blind people to written material. I had read this many times, but when I heard Jesse Brown mention in the June 1'st episode of his podcast that he tried to get an interview with Bruce Couchman and that Bruce never got back to him. Since I have met Bruce many times I decided to send a letter to Bruce and to Jesse about this issue. While Bruce got back to me right away and has been sending multiple messages on this issue since, Jesse Brown hasn't yet acknowledged receipt of the material I have sent him. Bruce was unaware of an interview request, so there may be problems with Jesse's email/etc.

While I hope that a professional journalist like Jesse will cover this issue, I'll do my best to let people know what Bruce has been sending me. My hope is that Jesse will see this, carry out the interview which Bruce seems willing to offer if requested, and possibly set the record straight.

Pandora, Radio, and copyright laggards...

People in many countries reading an article by Nate Anderson in Ars Technica about radio vs netcasting may be confused by the statement that, "rightsholders have turned their eyes in recent years to commercial US radio, which currently pays songwriters (but not performers or record labels) for the tunes that power their business". In most countries all three music copyright holders (songwriters, performers and record labels) are paid for the broadcast of their music on radio. In fact, the requirement to remunerate performers and/or producers of the phonograms is article 12 of the Rome convention, a 1961 WIPO treaty that Canada acceded to in 1998.

Use UN day to reflect on mis-interpretations of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

United Nations Day was proclaimed in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. It is held annually on 24 October, the anniversary of the coming into force of the UN Charter on 24 October 1945. 2008 is also the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

This makes tomorrow an ideal time to reflect on what many consider to be a misinterpretation of the UN UDHR that has lead to many of the technology policy debates today.

Read the rest of this entry »

What's up at WIPO?

There is an interesting trend with WIPO that is interesting to observe. A recent article by William New for Intellectual Property Watch talks about the WIPO Copyright Committee begins a new era with a revised agenda. The committee has not been able to get anywhere for about a decade (since the highly controversial treaties in 1996).

First WIPO Development Committee Meeting Begins

William New BLOGS on about "The “historic” first day of the new World Intellectual Property Organization Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP)". Meetings Mar 3, 2008 to Mar 7, 2008 (Geneva, Switzerland).

Angus: Debate WIPO agreement before introducing new Copyright bill

A press release from Charlie Angus (Timmins James Bay) stated that the Conservative government should open a debate on the 1996 WIPO treaties before tabling implementing legislation. Given how much confusion there is both within Canada and worldwide about the meaning of key language in these treaties, this seems to be a critical first step.

Copyright protesters got Industry Minister Jim Prentice’s attention: now what?

My latest contribution to the IT World Canada BLOG discusses what the Ministers have already said will be in the upcoming bill, as well as some of our history with WIPO and international Copyright law. I of course make a comparison of our strong copyright compared to that of a Copyright laggard: The United States.

Canadians have already said NO to WIPO Internet treaty ratification!

I have read the form letter that Mr. Steven Fletcher is sending to constituents. In it he claims that "the Government of Canada is aware of the sensitive nature of issues regarding digital rights management" and that the Ministers are "considering the concerns of all Canadians".

Mr. Fletcher then provides a link to the Industry Canada website for the Copyright Reform process which was started in 2001. During that process over 700 Canadians offers submissions, the vast majority opposed to some aspect of the WIPO Internet treaties (See my summary of treaties). Given the only consultation that has been done thus far opposed WIPO Internet treaty ratification, why is the government ignoring Canadians and insisting on moving forward with this?

Why am I opposed to the upcoming Copyright bill even before I have seen it?

Note: This article includes my summary of the 1996 WIPO Internet treaties.

It has been interesting to watch the membership of the Fair Copyright for Canada facebook group grow, as well as the questions to the Minister of Industry posted to the website for CBC's Search Engine. There is an obvious question that people ask, which is why we are opposed to a Copyright bill that hasn't even been tabled yet, and that anyone who has seen it is unable to talk about until it is tabled.

Canada's Stronger Copyright law - a baker's dozen examples

Howard Knopf's article talking about the ways that Canadian Copyright law is already "stronger" that US copyright law really is a must-read to put the current lobbying from both US-based associations and the US government itself into context.

Mr Knopf also provided an important reminder on the so-called obligation to ratify the 1996 WIPO treaties. The USA didn't join Berne (the treaty that forms the core of WIPO copyright) until 1989, 61 years after Canada ratified in 1928. If we take the USA's lead on this, given they ratified their own policy laundered 1996 treaties in 1998 with the DMCA, we have until 2059 to ratify the 1996 WIPO treaties.

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