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Access to KnowledgeCopyright, Patents and Politics at the World Intellectual Property Organisation
Contents:● Pt. 1: Access to Knowledge – why is Access to Knowledge important? – criticising “Intellectual Property” – A Treaty on Access to Knowledge● Pt. 2: Promoting Access to Knowledge at WIPO – what is WIPO? – how to promote Access to Knowledge at WIPO – a first step: A Development Agenda for WIPO – FSF Europes work at WIPO● Conclusion
What is Access to Knowledge?● Knowledge: Any cultural technique. – music – medicines – science – software● thanks to digital technology, knowledge can be easily distributed● ==> the Access to Knowledge perspective values access over protection of monopolies.
Access to Knowledge and Culture● without knowledge, taking part in culture is impossible – education – literature – software● culture grows on a common ground of knowledge● restrictions to access hurt all of us – less personal freedom – less growth, cultural and economic
Access to Knowledge and Development● developing countries suffer from access restrictions – no money to buy licenses for educational texts – no money to pay for vital medicines● restrictions block development● what is good for developing countries is good for us too – generous fair use – alternative licensing models
How is Access to Knowledge regulated?● copyright / authors rights – give economic and moral privileges to the creator of a work – duration now: 70 years (Germany) – are being continuously tightened● patents – give exclusivity in exchange for publishing – duration now: 20 years (Germany)
“Intellectual Property”?● Propaganda: “intellectual property” does not equal material property● Ignorant: copyright and patents are just tools● Imprecise: mixes together very different areas of law● evokes fears of material loss, hides possibility of lossless sharing● say it like it is: monopoly privileges
The objective: A Treaty on Access to Knowledge● to defend our cultures from being strangled by rightsholders greed● to put public interest before private profit● create a legal base to protect cultural freedom● “TRIPS in reverse”
TRIPS vs. Access to Knowledge● sets minimum standard for ● sets minimum standard for monopoly protection Access to Knowledge – enables stricter – disables stricter monopoly protection monopoly protection (“TRIPS-plus”) ● sets maximum durations for● sets minimum durations for copyright, patents copyright, patents ● enumerates required● enumerates required freedoms protection mechanisms
Pt. 1 – Summary● Access to Knowledge is essential for culture and development● “intellectual property” really consists of monopoly privileges● We need a Treaty on Access to Knowledge to protect cultural freedom and to counter TRIPS
How to promote Access to Knowledge?● talking to rightsholders● talking to lawmakers● changing the framework – working where the regulations are made● ==> WIPO
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)● a specialised UN agency administering treaties on monopolies on ideas● grew from offices administering the Paris and Berne conventions („BIRPI“)● Mandate: „To promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world“
What does WIPO do?● drafts and administers international treaties intellectual monopoly rights● „technical assistance“: Promotes enforcement of intellectual monopoly rights in developing countries – costs scarce resources – WIPO officials often forget to mention treaty flexibilities● but WIPO only sets the framework, which member states then implement
Important tasks for WIPO● put public good before individual profit● stop TRIPS-plus treaties (eg. broadcasting treaty)● shorten copyright duration● limits on patentability (software, medicines, life...)● stop criminalisation of copyright infringement
A first step: A Development Agenda for WIPO● “Friends of Development” group of states demands that WIPO should take into account how its work affects development● effectively: A call to reform WIPO● Development Agenda was submitted at the end of 2004● has since been discussed in several meetings
Development Agenda: Objectives and supporters● Public interest should be more important than monopoly rights● WIPO should safeguard public interest flexibilities● WIPO must promote technology transfer● Independent review of WIPOs work● supported by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Kenya, Peru, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania and Venezuela, plus India
Development Agenda: Perspectives● until now: talks about talks – blocking strategy by rich countries● next year: two more meetings, recommendation to WIPOs General Assembly● debate about Access to Knowledge has reached UN level● may contribute to a future Treaty on Access to Knowledge
FSF Europes work at WIPO● Free Software is essential for Access to Knowledge● inform country, industry delegates about Free Software● improve legal conditions for Free Software● get Free Software into WIPOs development work by default● connect with other NGOs● turn WIPO into a World Intellectual Wealth Organisation
Pt 2. - Summary● WIPO holds the key to international treaties on intellectual monopoly rights – and on Access to Knowledge● The Development Agenda is a first step towards WIPO reform● FSF Europe and others work to turn WIPO into a World Intellectual Wealth Organisation
What can you do?● stay informed. Read. Discuss.● Lobby politicians and businesses● criticise the concept of „intellectual property“● pick your favourite public interest NGO and support it. – Free Software Foundation Europe: Become a Fellow● promote alternative models: Create and use Free Software and free content● explain the problem to two friends.