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 Against Access to Knowledge?

Michael Geist hasa summary of what has been going on at the WIPO Development Agenda talks, and Howard Knopf writes about what is going on with the WIPO Broadcast Treaty talks.

Canada said it "didn't understand" what "access to knowledge" meant.

A BLOG article by James Love includes a reference to the fact that the Canadian representative to WIPO during the talks on the "Development Agenda" said they "didn't understand" what "access to knowledge" meant. A2K has been discussed quite heavily over the last decade, and I have to wonder what rookie "The New Government of Canada" sent to these critically important meetings.

See also: WIPO Development Agenda Meeting Starts Directly With Proposals from William New and Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen of IP-Watch.

Response to comment about Question Time

In response to Maka Kotto's question in parliament, in which he asked about the WIPO treaties that he said we ratified in 1996, I sent him an email and got a response from his office.

BTW, if anyone can translate the response, please do so. I get the gist of it, but my French is pretty awful.

My email :

US Lawmakers Tout DMCA Killer

A Wired Magazine article by Luke O'Brien includes:

A bill introduced Tuesday by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Virginia) and Rep. John Doolittle (R-California) would loosen some of the tight restrictions on consumer behavior imposed by the draconian Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 -- something the lawmakers say is long overdue.

US Citizens should take action!

These specific US politicians recognize the need to fix some of the flaws of laws which certain US government agencies policy-laundered through WIPO in 1996. This development will help Canadian politicians recognize that we need not make the same mistakes in Canada, and shouldn't ratify the 1996 WIPO treaties.

While the bill is not ideal, and should allow circumvention of a DRM for any activity that would not otherwise constitute a copyright infringement, it is a good start.

A MacWorld article by Grant Gross predictably reports that the technology-illiterate major labels oppose the bill. What will be interesting to see if technology companies like Apple, Microsoft and Sony that often try to "pass the buck" on DRM will properly support the bill or remain silent.

The first political victory for open source?

A ZDNet BLOG article by Dana Blankenhorn talks about the WIPO development agenda.

The agreement sets the stage for June negotiations that will consider a proposed treaty on access to knowledge, which Love says would be a radical departure "from WIPO's longstanding efforts to focus largely on expanding the scope and enforcement of intellectual property rights."

Love gives credit all around, but I don't think it would have been possible save for two facts:

1. Open source has proven a business model exists that lets customers own software.
2. Apple has shown that in demanding DRM publishers lose control of their own distribution channels.

In other words we weren't being nice to foreigners. We're finally admitting that copyright absolutism doesn't work. And that's a very important story.

Is "Making Available" itself a copyright infringement?

Canadians will remember that when reporting BMG Canada v Doe (The CRIA filesharing case"), many journalists parroted the CRIA misinterpretation that the case was lost due to a lack of a "making available" exclusive-right in Canada. Anyone who read the case knew the primary "issues" were that Canada has stronger privacy legislation than the USA (why there was a discovery case at all), and that CRIA members provided no evidence of infringing activity.

WIPO Embraces Reform on Intellectual Property Mission

An article by James Love in the Huffington Post included:

Geneva: Today the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) concluded the first of a two-part review of proposals for a reform effort called the "development agenda." In doing so, WIPO and its member states have done something very positive, and surprising -- both because it signals important reforms, and because it happened with very strong support from all of the WIPO members, including the United States and members of Europe, delegations that usually take a hard line in global negotiations on intellectual property issues.

See also: EFF Blogging WIPO: Can WIPO Protect the Public Domain? and IP-Watch: WIPO Committee Approves Proposals For Development Agenda.

WIPO Deveopment Agenda meeting underway

An International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) article discusses the development agenda (EFF) talks that have been underway this week.

In the run-up to the session at WIPO, the Indian government hosted a gathering in New Delhi from 5-7 February to try to provide input to the discussions in Geneva. Participants looked at the development agenda proposals, and streamlined the 40 originally set for consideration into 22. These focused mainly on technical assistance, norm-setting, flexibilities for public policy and the public domain, technology transfer, information and communication technologies and access to knowledge, assessments and impact studies, institutional matters and other issues.

I haven't reviewed the document to know if the "open collaborative methods for the production of public goods" (the language used by some of the WIPO development agenda proponents for peer production, FLOSS, Open Access, Creative Commons, etc) is still directly referenced.

An Inconvenient Truth - the first and second most important issues of our planet.

I finally watched an inconvenient truth, the documentary about the climate change crisis by Al Gore. It is appropriate that this is a story by a politician, given this is entirely a political issue. The science behind knowing the problems, and most the science and economics behind the solutions are already known : the problem that is stopping us from solving the greatest problem ever faced by humanity is entirely a matter of political will and knowledge sharing.

It is our lack of skills in social sciences, not natural sciences, that are the real threat to the planet's survival.

Alphabet soup of acronyms: TPM, DRM, TCPA, RMS, RMI

There is an alphabet soup of acronyms people use when talking about some of the controversies around copyright related issues. While learning the acronyms are hard enough, we also have to deal with the fact that different communities are using the terms in different ways. I have had the opportunity to interact with technical, legal and law making communities and will try to make sense out of a few most often heard acronyms.


This acronym is most often used to mean Technical Protection Measure. Whenever you hear the word "protection" you should be thinking of what is being protected from who? This is a policy question, and the policy questions are often far more important than the technology being used.

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