Are teenagers freely swapping music, films and other files over the internet undermining corporate control of entertainment and creating a revolutionary culture of sharing and universal access to knowledge? asks Nick Buxton. March 2009.
In an increasingly technology-driven world, the standard of protection provided by intellectual property (IP) rules is affecting development policies, human rights and other public-interest goals more than ever. Strict IP rules have had an adverse impact on the ability of many governments to fulfil their human rights obligations, of which obligations to ensure access to affordable medicines, educational goods and adequate food. This trend towards higher IP protection has been stimulated by the adoption of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) in the 1990s, and the harmonization initiatives at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). At WIPO, concerns about this trend prompted developing countries to put forward since 2004 a series of proposals in support of a WIPO Development Agenda. The proposals aim to ensure that international IP policy within WIPO takes into account development goals and is coherent with the international obligations of States, including obligations under human rights treaties. Human rights law and mechanisms can support this push for greater development coherence of the international IP regime, and accountability in IP decision-making.
The TRIPS Agreement, which came into force in 1995, set minimum standards of IP protection which all members of the WTO have to implement. Despite international concerns about the impact of the TRIPS Agreement on development, IP standards worldwide continue to increase. These strict IP standards, known as "TRIPS-plus" standards, have emerged in investment agreements, trade agreements and in WIPO treaties. Moreover, the WIPO Secretariat has also been criticized for promoting TRIPS-plus standards at the expense of development concerns in its technical assistance and norm-setting activities. There have been particular concerns that WIPO’s technical assistance has too often failed to properly take into account the range of public policy goals relevant to IP policymaking in developing countries and tailor advice to respond to their particular economic, social and cultural development needs and circumstances.
Mounting concern and criticism of WIPO’s activities by civil society, academics and developing countries provided impetus to a group of fourteen developing countries known as the "Group of Friends of Development" to submit a proposal to the WIPO General Assembly requesting the establishment of a new Development Agenda for WIPO. In October 2004 the Thirty-First WIPO General Assembly decided to convene inter-sessional intergovernmental meetings (IIMs) to examine proposals for a WIPO Development Agenda. Three such meetings were held in 2005. At the Thirty-Second Session of the WIPO General Assembly in October 2005 WIPO’s Member States agreed to "accelerate and complete" the IIM discussions by convening two meetings of a Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA) in 2006.
Excerpted from "Policy Brief on Intellectual Property, Development and Human Rights: How Human Rights can support proposals for a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Development Agenda, 3D Publications
This research paper analyses the implications of digital and Internet content policy for access to knowledge in developing countries and makes some initial recommendations. The paper recommends that the emerging digital content presents tremendous opportunities and the chance for developing countries to shape and implement development oriented copyright regimes. The paper also warns of extending protecting regimes which would only serve to benefit major rights-holder industries and would be of little or no benefit to developing countries. August 2007
The intellectual property (IP) regime provides the legal means to appropriate knowledge. These are rights granted by society to individuals or organizations for their creative works, preventing others from making unauthorized use for a limited period of time. However with the recent advances in biotechnology and information and communication technology, multinational companies in developed countries are seeking to control the global knowledge economy through the use of strong IP protection and enforcement. A review of the international IP framework needs to be undertaken to understand the development implications, costs and benefits of existing policies to identify their imbalances. Future standard setting and harmonization exercises should only be undertaken after sufficient evaluation and understanding of the implications of such an exercise. The "Development Agenda", proposed at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), provides an opportunity to begin a reform process. This paper examines this initiative and argues that the "Development Agenda" should be pursued tenaciously by developing countries.
Statement made by 3D -> Trade – Human Rights – Equitable Economy to the third session of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Inter-sessional Intergovernmental Meeting on a Development Agenda for WIPO, 20-22 July 2005. It highlights the need for WIPO norm-setting and intellectual property policy to be pro-development, human rights-consistent and coherent with the development and human rights objectives of other United Nations special agencies. July 2005.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) General Assembly agreed on Monday, October 4, 2004, to further examine a proposal by a group of developing countries to integrate in a more systematic manner the development dimension in all of WIPO’s work. Member states are expected to formally adopt this decision in a plenary meeting of the General Assembly on Tuesday, October 5, 2004.
Proposal submitted by Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil to the 40th Series of Meetings of the Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO and to the 31st Session of the WIPO General Assembly, Geneva, 27 September-5 October 2004.
The system of patents, copyright and other intellectual property rights are coming under public attack, including from famous scientists and well known law professors, who say that this system has gone too far in benefiting a few people at the expense of the majority. Report by Martin Khor (TWN) of the Seminar on the Future of WIPO (held in Geneva 13-14 September 2004).
Several civil society organizations gathered in Geneva for the
annual General Assemblies of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have welcomed and supported a proposal put forth by Argentina and Brazil calling for the establishment of a "Development Agenda'. Report by Kanaga Raja, published in the SUNS (South-North Development Monitor), Geneva, 30 September 2004.
According to this statement, the proposal to establish a development agenda for WIPO crystallizes many of the concerns previously raised by developing countries as well as by many NGOs around the world and reaffirms the urgent need for WIPO to undertake a focused and exhaustive discussion to include the development dimension in its programs and activities.
Several organizations and individuals from the free software movement have written a short declaration which endorses the Geneva Declaration, but which also calls on WIPO to be replaced with a World Intellectual Wealth Organization." They invite others to sign.
The first meeting of the new WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property was held during the first week of March 2008 to formulate a work plan to put development in the mainstream focus of WIPO's operations and activities. April 2008.
An international seminar on Intellectual Property and Development held at WIPO on 2-3 May discussed the theme "intellectual property and public policy", with sessions on public health, biodiversity and traditional knowledge, copyright and competition policy. The holding of the seminar was part of the activities of the Development Agenda for WIPO. May 2005
The issue of whether the scope of the proposed treaty on the protection of broadcasting organizations should include "webcasting" (transmission over the web) has dominated much of the discussion in the 14th Session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), held on 1-5 May in Geneva. The separation of treatment of the issues was decided on after overwhelming opposition from developing countries. The US was the main advocate of including webcasting, while the EU proposed the inclusion of simulcasting (internet transmission of a traditional broadcast). May 2006
Activists and organizations call for an immediate participation of civil society and consumer-interest non-governmental organizations (NGOs) within WIPO's activities. Specifically, but not limited, in the Inter-sessional Intergovernmental Metting (11-13 April 2005) and the Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Civil society calls for participation at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)'s activities. This participation would provide a balanced discussion on WIPO's Development Agenda and on the IP system in general, observing an equilibrium between IP right holders and consumers. They also urge that WIPO plays its role in making access to knowledge feasible for humanity, bearing in mind different needs and stages of development.
On the eve of high-level meetings on development and intellectual property, the fourteen co-sponsors of the proposal for the World Intellectual Property Organisation's new Development Agenda submitted detailed elaborations of their proposals for incorporating development into WIPO's work. (6th April 2006).
The US has informally circulated a draft paper containing its views and proposals for
the meeting in WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) on a Development Agenda
scheduled for 11-13 April. The paper clearly ignores and sidesteps the demands of the proponents of a "development agenda" in WIPO.
At the inter-sesional intergovernmental meeting (IMM) on a Development Agenda for WIPO (11-13 April 2005, Geneva) Brazil and Argentina, which coordinate the 14-member Group of Friends of Development (FOD), made extensive comments on the proposals of the United States, United Kingdom and Mexico. Another highlight was a presentation by India, another major proponent of the Development Agenda. Several other developing countries also spoke in support of the FOD proposals.
The inter-sessional intergovernmental meeting (IIM) on a Development Agenda (DA) for WIPO (Geneva, 11-13 April 2005) was mandated by the WIPO General Assembly in October 2004 as a result of an initiative for a DA launched by the 14 members of the Group of Friends of Development (FOD). Disagreement between Northern and Southern countries soon emerged as the proposal of developing countries claimed for the incorporation of a development dimension into the organization's work and activities that would integrate developing countries main concerns. April 2005.
The final day of the WIPO's development meeting ended with victory of the group of friends of development positions. The final document provided two more meetings, one in June 20 to 22 and another one in July in a date yet to be defined, as well as allowing NGOs accredited on a ad hoc basis to participate also in these next two meetings.
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) will hold two more meetings to further discuss proposals for a Development Agenda for WIPO and prepare a report to the General Assembly on future work on this issue. This was the main decision made at the end of the first inter-sessional intergovernmental meeting (IIM) on a Development Agenda for WIPO, held in Geneva on 11-13 April 2005.
The purpose of this Policy Brief is to encourage advocates, policy-makers and WIPO Member States to continue high-level discussions on a WIPO Development Agenda and elaborate an actionable, pro-development agenda that is consistent with the development commitments and human rights obligations of WIPO Member States. PDF format.
Throughout the world, the experience of “growing up digital,” as technology writer Don Tapscott has called it, has created a pattern of behaviour and cooperation that, largely unconsciously, undermines corporate control of culture, information and ideas. March 2009.
This paper proposes to illustrate how the current copyright structure in Brazil and the improper use of technology poses a serious threat to the implementation of the human right to education - which, in its broadest sense, also embraces other human rights. December 2007.
New international legal requirements for the protection of technological measures used by copyright owners to control access and use of their works can hinder the ability of developing countries to promote access to knowledge for development. This policy brief explains the current international legal framework for protection of copyright and national experiences in the implementation of these laws. It highlights that developing countries should use the flexibilities available to narrowly implement anti-circumvention obligations in such a way that can reduce the threat they pose on access to knowledge. August 2007.
In this article, Michael Geist, who is an Internet law professor, analyses the changes in the dissemination of research information to the general public. In the current model, researchers in government funded projects publish their findings in research journals which can be accessed only by purchasing them. However, a new stand has been taken based on the open access principle which argues that results from research funded by taxpayer money should be available free of cost. The author explains the primary drivers of this initiative and also the barriers that must be overcome to make this a success. february 2007.
A meeting on intellectual property and access to knowledge held in Geneva on 3-4 February has reviewed several proposals for restricting the scope of copyright and patents in favour of consumers and the public interest, and for promoting greater public access to information and knowledge. Feb 2005
The Cultura Livre project seeks to establish a dialogue between countries of the South about the issues surrounding Culture, Media, and Intellectual Property. Its objective is to generate and put into practice instruments for the promotion of development, access to education, knowledge, and democratization of information.
The issue of whether the scope of the proposed treaty on the protection of broadcasting organizations should include "webcasting" (transmission over the web) has dominated much of the discussion so far in the 14th Session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR).
The development of the Internet and other information technologies (IT) has lead to a dramatic increase in the importance of knowledge goods and services, in the realms of terms of economic, political, cultural and personal life. None of these developments are taking place in a social or political vacuum. Commercial interests are organized to influence governments and global intergovernmental bodies and the broader public is increasingly being empowered by the new IT to play a more important role in such policy discussions. There are many proposed and adopted measures to vastly increase the degree to which knowledge can be owned and controlled, as there also are many proposals, initiatives and experiments to expand access to knowledge. Some of the proposals and initiatives involve intellectual property rights, while others involve policies that would support or undermine new methods of collaboration or new business models for creating and disseminating knowledge goods.
"Hopefully, in WIPO’s reconsideration of intellectual property regimes, the voices of the developing world will be heard more
clearly than it was in the WTO negotiations; hopefully, WIPO will succeed in outlining what a pro-developing intellectual property regime implies; and hopefully, WTO will listen: the aim of trade liberalization is to boost development, not hinder it" states the Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz in this article on intellectual property regimes. August 2005.
Article focusing on the harmful rol that inflexible intellectual property rights play on development processes and democratisation of knowledge. It also states some positions that civil society organizations should adopt respect to them. August, 2005.
TRIPS -- the World Trade Organisation's agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights -- was the most important agreement on intellectual property of the 20th century. It revolutionised the way that property rights in information were defined and enforced. TRIPS effectively globalises the set of intellectual property principles it contains, because most countries are members of, or are seeking membership of, the World Trade Organisation that administers TRIPS. This briefing paper explores the background to TRIPS and the corporate political organising that orchestrated and paved the way for the agreement. Published September 2004.
The public's access to knowledge is increasingly hindered by imbalanced intellectual property regimes that are tilted to the advantage of IP holders vis-a-vis users and consumers, and there is a need to establish a treaty or at least principles to redress this imbalance as part of a "development agenda" in fora dealing with intellectual property protection.
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has begun its 2005 General Assembly on Monday 26 September. It will be an important Assembly, as there are many controversial decisions to be made: (1) Decide on the future process and the shape of the Development Agenda initiatve of the developing countries; (2) Decide on the future of the negotiations in the Patent Committee for a substantive patent law treaty (SPLT); (3) Decide on whether to convene a Diplomatic Conference on a new Broadcasting Treaty which will give new rights to broadcasting organisations.
Agreement was reached on two issues that have preoccupied and divided the WIPO General Assembly (Geneve, 26 September to 5 October): how to take the Development Agenda Initiative forward and the future work plan on the Draft Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT). On the Development Agenda, members agreed to establish a "provisional committee" to take forward the process of the Intergovernmental Inter-sessional Meetings (IIM) and report back to the 2006 General Assembly. October 2005.