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.
There is no need for Canada to feel an obligation to ratify the 1996 WIPO treaties, highly controvercial policy which protects incumbent content industry monopolies from necessary competition and modernization. When it came to policy that protected authors right, such as the Berne Convention that was one of the founding treaties of WIPO, we see that Canada entered into force on April 10, 1928 while our lagest trading partner/competitor, the United States, only did so on March 1, 1989. When we are talking about protectionist policies, protecting primarily the businesses and business models of our largest trade competitor, there is a claim to be an immediate obligation that stifles debate. When we are talking about policies which protect authors rights it can take that same trade competitor a full 61 years to catch up with Canada.
On April 7, Howard Knopf wrote "Let the © Politi©al Games Begin" which included discussion of Mauril Bélanger, P.C., M.P., Official Opposition Critic- Canadian Heritage.
Please also see Mr. Knopf's commentary about the throne speech on his Excess Copyright BLOG, and what the sentence indicating that "Significant international treaties will be submitted for votes in Parliament" could mean for WIPO policy implementation.
Even if implementation is delayed, this is good as people become more informed on the actual meaning and implications of the poorly thought out knee-jerk policy from 1996. We should also be rejecting the pressure from the USA on ratification given Canada ratified the Berne convention in 1928 while the USA took until 1989. Given the USA ratified the 1996 WIPO treaties in 1998 I believe it is fair for us to not think we are "late" with the new treaties until 2059.
The Ottawa Citizen (March 18, 2006, pg B7), Vancouver Sun (March 22, 2006, pg A17) and The Windsor Star published an article by Tom Flanagan and Gemma Collins. Mr. Flanagan is a professor and Ms. Collins is a graduate student in the department of political science at the University of Calgary. Mr Flanigan also has close ties with the Conservative party.
The article focused on the differences between Lockean real property and "intellectual property", as well as the confusing (and not well understood/documented) "making available" right included in the 1996 WIPO treaties, mentioned in the 2004 filesharing case (BMG vs Doe), and included in Bill C-60.
This Financial Times article by Frances Williams in Geneva includes:
An article by Aero-News Senior Correspondent, Kevin R.C. "Hognose" O'Brien includes this view of WIPO.
We need to remember that WIPO is a specialized agency of the United Nations, and as such should be fulfilling a roll that is consistent with that of the United Nations which should include protection of the rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This should mean a protection of article 19 (freedom of expression) and article 27 (cultural rights, creators' rights) against attacks by special business interests. The need for WIPO reform should be obvious, and if the Canadian government were interested in protecting human rights it would back the Development Agenda to reform WIPO rather than opposing required reform.
The issue of "educational use of the Internet" will be one of the issues discussed at this meeting on November 21 in Geneva, Switzerland.
I am told that Bruce Couchman (Senior Legal Analyst, Intellectual Property Policy, Industry Canada) and Danielle Bouvet (Director, Legislative and International Projects, Copyright Policy Branch, Canadian Heritage) will be speaking about the situtation in Canada.
The following letter was sent to the Hill Times.
Re: Culture part of Canadian identity goes beyond NAFTA, says Minister Frulla (Page 2, September 7, 2005 issue of Hill Times)
I find it disturbing that federal Heritage Minister Liza Frulla claims that the UNESCO cultural diversity convention is a big personal achievement as a politician. Will she also claim as an achievement the passage of her Bill C-60 and the implementation of the 1996 WIPO treaties, even though Bill C-60 directly conflicts with the UNESCO convention?
The following is a reply to a letter I received from the Honourable James Scott Peterson, Minister of International Trade, on Copyright.
Summary: Bill C-60 may step into areas of provincial jurisdiction, diminishes legitimate property rights, has not received adequate hearings, and seems inconsistant with other domestic and foreign policy goals. In relation to policy laundered 1996 WIPO treaties, the past Heritage Minister was advised that "international convention is such that signing in no way binds Canada to ratify the treaties. It is a symbolic gesture."
The latest EFFector newsletter (Vol. 18, No. 35 October 14, 2005) includes references to their latest trip to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) which ended last week, and how they registered victories on all three of the issues they have been following.
Other key sites
Digital Copyright Canada BLOG