[Random-bits] WIPO -- CSC Statement at General Assembly
Wed Sep 28 03:23:01 2005
Yesterday was the second day of the WIPO General Assembly. Some NGOs
were permitted to speak yesterday. The Civil Society Coalition,
which includes CPTech and 27 other groups, was allowed to make the
statement below, which I presented. EFF, CEIL (who were both very
effective) and a hand full of right-owner groups spoke, including for
example the broadcasters, the recording industry, film makers and
musicians. The Webcasters have adopted a very low profile at this
meeting. Jamie Boyle's article in yesterday's FT was widely
circulated and read, and it had a big impact. We should know today
if a diplomatic conference will be scheduled for next year, maybe in
an hour or so. Jamie
CSC Intervention to the WIPO General Assembly
Geneva, September 27, 2005
Thank you Ambassador. As this is the first time the Civil Society
Coalition is taking the floor, we congratulate you on your election
to the Chair.
The Civil Society Coalition (CSC) represents twenty-eight non-
governmental organizations from at least twelve countries, in the
North and South. Our members are concerned with a wide range of
issues that are relevant to WIPO, including access to medicines,
access to knowledge, and better mechanisms to support creativity
We are strongly supportive of the proposals by the Friends of
Development for the WIPO Development Agenda. We urge this
specialized UN body to take more seriously its role in supporting
development, and protecting the public interest. The measures
included in the WIPO Development Agenda include a proposal to create
a treaty on access to knowledge. We strongly support this, and call
upon WIPO to discuss the treaty on access on knowledge in the
standing committees on Copyright and Patents.
We also agree that WIPO should address the control of anticompetitive
practices, including problems of monopoly in software markets. WIPO
needs to discuss the implementation of Article 40 of the TRIPS
agreement, on the control of anticompetitive practices.
WIPO should also address the issues of access to medicine, and in
particular, to work with WHO and other relevant bodies to provide
assistance to LDC=92s in implementation of paragraph 7 of the Doha
Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.
We are opposed to the convening of a diplomatic conference on a
proposed treaty for broadcasting, cablecasting and webcasting
The process for consideration of this treaty are flawed. The views
of consumers have not been respected, and WIPO has yet to engage the
technology community on the radical and restrictive webcasting
proposal. There has been no economic analysis of the impact of the
treaties on consumers, or on copyright owners.
There is also a large issue of deceptive packaging. It is being sold
to the uninformed, including many delegates, as something that is
necessary to address piracy. But the treaty has little to do with
piracy, which is already illegal everywhere for copyrighted works,
but much to do with the intellectual property right it gives for
transmitting information. It is deceptive to talk about the treaty
protecting only a signal, but then provide for extensive commercial
rights, lasting 50 years, to make reproductions and redistribute the
We are deeply troubled in the nature of the proposed property right.
It is not based upon creativity. It is not based upon invention. It
is a claim that the investment in transmitting information should
create a 50 year exclusive right to in content, far longer than the
term of protection for databases in Europe, and more than 10 times
the term of protection for test data for pharmaceutical clinical
trials in the United States. This right is on top of the copyright
in copyrighted work, and applies even to works in the public domain
under copyright laws.
We don=92t give book publishers a layer of rights on top of copyright.
We don=92t give the post office a layer of rights for delivering mail.
We don=92t give taxi cab drivers a right to control the use of
documents that are transported by passengers in their cars. Why do
we decide to give broadcasters a right of 50 years?
If this is extended to the web, it will harm access to knowledge.
The web is quite different from radio and TV. People who receive
information on the web also publish. The same works are often
accessible from many different web pages. This helps disseminate
information, and increases access to knowledge. Creating rights in
information simply for transmitting or making the information
available to the public is the wrong paradigm for access to
knowledge. It harms copyright owners. It harms consumers. It will
The ongoing demands to extend rights obtained by one group to another
group are predictable. The broadcasters want the rights now given to
producers of phonograms. The webcasters now ask for rights the
broadcasters have or will have under the new treaty. The rationale
for protecting audio-visual productions is now being extended to all
text and data from ordinary web pages. Makers of databases also will
want a treaty, and will point to the protections the broadcasters and
webcasters will request.
Where does this end? We are now giving multiple rights on the same
works. A broadcasters right on top of a copyright, for example.
It ends with no public domain, curtailing the free movement of
information, higher prices for information, and less access to
knowledge. It ends with a less informed and less equal society.
The costs and risks of this proposal are very large. The benefits,
if any, are very small. WIPO should also reconsider the process of
setting priorities that puts such a poor proposal at such a high
priority, when WIPO has yet to respond to requests by consumers to
address the control of anticompetitive practices, consumer problems
from TPM and DRM measures, the need for minimum limitations and
exceptions for the blind, education and libraries, and the proposal
for a treaty on access to knowledge. WIPO must find a way to address
consumer interests, and to rebalance the management of intellectual
property rights in ways that better protect access to knowledge.
Thank you Mr. Chair.
James Love, CPTech / www.cptech.org / mailto:email@example.com /
tel. +1.202.332.2670 / mobile +1.202.361.3040