Discussions continue on a development agenda for WIPO
A first session of the Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda took place on 20-24 February 2006 in Geneva to discuss about proposals for a development agenda.
EDRI was present during the meeting in its new role as officially acknowledged observer. The WIPO Development Agenda is a far-reaching proposal that was initiated by the governments of Argentina and Brazil and adopted by the General Assembly in October 2004. The Development Agenda calls for fundamental changes to address the special concerns of developing countries, but also in general to give more weight to public and consumer interests.
The meeting had a slow start as Member States spent Monday morning negotiating the appointment of the Chairperson. Discussions followed on substantive issues contained in the proposals over the next days and NGOs were given the opportunity to intervene after each round of discussions.
Four proposals were discussed from : - Chile, advocating greater protection of information in the public domain; - Colombia to allow the national offices of developing countries to access databases for patent searches; - Friends of Development (FoD), a group of 15 developing countries, stressesing the need for the a more structured meeting that will allow the provisional committee to come up with concrete and practical results by the end of its second session. - United States on Internet-based tools to facilitate development.
Volker Grassmuck, representing EDRI at this WIPO meeting, commented on the US proposal by questioning the commercial viability of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM):
"Two days ago during the informal lunchtime session, we heard from a representative of IFPI that the online music market is finally taking off. Where this is true, it not related to DRM at all. The largest online music provider, Apple's iTunes Music Store, allows users to write standard Red Book audio CDs which then can be converted into formats such as "ogg vorbis" or "MP3" with standard tools. Apple's CEO Steve Jobs has made public statements that his company has studied DRM closely and came to the conclusion that DRM does not work. Therefore Apple iTunes is instead using something that has been termed "Digital Inconvenience Management".
The second largest service, eMusic.com with more than 1 million titles from 3,800 independent record labels around the globe selling more than 3.5 million songs per month, is not using any protection technology at all, but is selling clean, unencumbered high-quality MP3s - which did not prevent but rather enabled them to become number two in a difficult marketplace."
Mr Grassmuck also emphasised the potential of commons-based peer production: "On the other hand, large-scale highly distributed collaboration is one of the impressively proven strengths of the Internet. What has been termed "commons-based peer production" has unleashed a tremendous wealth of creativity in science, software, encyclopaedias, textbooks, music and many other areas. These knowledge resources are freely accessible to people in the developing and the developed world alike. The necessary prerequisite for this collaboration is that the rights to these jointly produced works are held in common. Without licenses like the GNU GPL and Creative Commons each participant would have to get permission from every other co-participant, meaning that such collaborative projects would simply not exist. From the US's perspective that only strong IPRs and their enforcement are safeguarding creative production, this seems counter-intuitive. But since the sustained effect of free and open collaboration is undeniable, the problem is not with the facts but with the intuition."
Subsequent discussions are scheduled for 26-30 June 2006, in preparation of the General Assembly in September 2006. The Provisional Committee is mandated to provide recommendations on a development agenda for the General Assembly.
WIPO - Meeting documents (24.02.2006)
European Digital Rights Statement on the U.S. Proposal to the PCDA
IP Justice - WIPO Development Agenda - Documents submitted by NGOs
Country proposals, NGO statements, blog and news articles on the WIPO
EDRI-gram : EDRI statement at WIPO Development Agenda meeting (IIM)