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.

Copyright treaty used to pressure Parliament

A letter to the editor of the Hill Times by Chris Brand includes:

This is particularly interesting when the signing of a treaty is then used to pressure Parliament to ratify the treaty, effectively circumventing the democratic process altogether. The CRIA has been particularly good at implying that Parliament has no choice but to ratify the treaty, when in fact this is the first chance that the public gets to indicate their feelings about it.

Questions Raised Over Proposed WIPO Secretariat Deals With FAO, IDB

This IPWatch article by William New includes:

The World Intellectual Property Organization has negotiated cooperation agreements with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
“We don’t want the [IDB and FAO] to be contaminated with the non-development friendly approach of WIPO,” a senior Brazilian diplomat told Intellectual Property Watch.
But WIPO’s mandate, to protect and advance intellectual property rights, might be at odds with the organisations’ missions, which generally aim to promote access, the “common welfare,” and development.

UN Steamrolls Member States and Insists on Controversial Broadcast Treaty

A BloggerNews article by Deek Deekster includes:

The 2004 proposal for a “Development Agenda at WIPO” designed to reform WIPO’s practice of favoring special interests and creating new IP rights that harm the public interest was prevented from moving forward in 2005 based on the objection of only two Member States, the US and Japan. In an inexplicable stark contrast, numerous Member States’ objections to Liedes’ proposal for a Broadcasting Treaty have been ignored and Liedes continues to steamroll Member States into accepting his treaty.

Geist: Little Public Broadcast of Dangerous Broadcast Treaty

With negotiations scheduled to resume today in Geneva, Michael Geist's weekly Law Bytes column (His site, Toronto Star version) examines the WIPO Broadcast Treaty. The column argues that the proposed treaty is a solution in search of a problem and notes the substantive and procedural criticisms that have been levied against it.

WIPO development agenda meeting breaks down.

An article published by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) includes:

Members of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) have failed to agree on how to proceed with embedding a 'Development Agenda' in the functioning of the global intellectual property body. A draft set of recommendations, prepared by the chair of the WIPO committee mandated with carrying the process forward, upset several developing countries during last week's discussions, and left the membership divided.

WIPO Development Agenda remains undeveloped

This Ars Technica by Nate Anderson includes:

Depending on what proposals are ultimately passed, the Development Agenda could have a significant impact on issues such as health care and the public domain in countries across the globe. It could also ensure that countries have some leeway in passing their own IP laws, rather than following WIPO decisions in lockstep. Finally, the Agenda would put much more emphasis on technology transfer and technical assistance designed to benefit up-and-coming countries who want to compete in the knowledge economy.

Death by DMCA

This article by Fred von Lohmann and Wendy Seltzer in IEEE Spectrum describes some of the problems with legislation based on the DMCA, the 1996 WIPO treaties, and various other regulations against technology (Broadcast flags, etc).

In the eight years since the DMCA's passage, however, piracy has not decreased, and hurdles to lawful uses of media have risen.
Meanwhile, entire consumer electronics categories have been wiped from retail shelves. If three or four years ago you didn't buy a digital video recorder that automatically skips commercials, you're out of luck; that feature is not in such products today.

Twilight on the Spanish Main: Is 'piracy' gone?

It's the pirate's sunset. The outbreak has been contained. Perhaps the industry has realized their mistake? How long will it take for our representatives in Parliament to get the memo?

Today, the head of the RIAA has declared that illegal downloading is "contained". The heads of the industry have now recognized that providing music on-line is a growing market (a 77% increase, this year). The rate of decline in CD sales seems to be much slower at 3%. I seem to recall that CDs were seeing the same rate of decline in previous years.

UN cooking podcast-killing treaty

This BoingBoing post by Cory Doctorow includes:

These twin provisions -- Webcasting and DRM -- are deadly for podcasters. Podcasting services rely on the ability to mirror, aggregate, index, process, convert and host podcasts, and hundreds of thousands of podcasts are licensed to explicitly permit this kind of work. But once you need permission from hosting companies like Yahoo before you can index, and once it's illegal to break copy-restriction formats to analyze the podcasts they contain, it's game over.

The forest of hundreds of startups gets burned to the ground, and only a few old trees like Yahoo and Microsoft are left standing.

Where is Canada? While largely ignored, "broadcasters" already have their own excessive copyright in Canada. We have the CMCC and many other independent creators coming out against DRM (AKA: circumvention of property rights by copyright holders), but we have yet to see what will happen on this front.

Remembering some man-made disasters, and seeking to avoid them in the future.

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. A ceremony took place at 1:23 a.m. local time in Ukraine, the exact moment that Reactor 4 exploded at the power station on April 26, 1986.

Today is also World Intellectual Property Day, the date on which the Convention establishing WIPO entered into force in 1970. The term "Intellectual Property" is used by lobbiests to narrow peoples understanding of exclusive rights such as patents, copyright and trademarks by comparing them to Lockean real property. While many people, from Thomas Jefferson onward to Tom Flanagan, have stated that intangible exclusive rights on works of the mind have very little in common with tangible real property, WIPO has successfully confused many people.

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