I’ve written a chapter about the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in a new report entitled “Global Information Society Watch” published by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and (iTeM). Besides WIPO, the report includes a number of other articles about global policy-making institutions such as ICANN, ITU, UNESCO, and UNDP. The report officially launches next Tuesday in Geneva as part of the WSIS-IGF-related activities over the next two weeks.
In the article, I argue that new leadership is needed at WIPO in key positions, like the chairmanship of WIPO’s copyright committee. The WIPO delegates themselves must hold WIPO accountable for its actions, by refusing to re-elect leaders who consistently ignore the explicit instructions of the WIPO General Assembly to pursue their own agenda. The proposed Broadcasting Treaty could not be a better example – where the WIPO General Assembly has told the WIPO Copyright Committee Chair Jukka Liedes that the proposed Broadcasting Treaty should be a “signal-based” approach, which still protects broadcasts from theft without creating a new set of exclusive rights. Yet Liedes continues to draft the proposals for the treaty with his preferred approach of creating new intellectual property rights for broadcasting companies.
My final recommendation and conclusion about what WIPO needs to better protect the global public interest:
“5.2.5 Greater oversight and accountability from the UN
If WIPO were more financially dependent upon the UN to carry out its work programme, its work programme would be more closely aligned with the UNâ€™s humanitarian objectives. It is time that UN officials realise what has been going on at WIPO in the UNâ€™s good name for the last fifteen years. The UN will also have to rein in WIPO and make it more accountable to the global public interest for WIPO to gain any legitimacy in international treaty-making. As long as WIPOâ€™s budget is entirely independent from the UN, the UN will have little means of holding it accountable to the global public interest. As long as WIPOâ€™s funding continues to come from major intellectual property holders, the objectives of those industries will continue to be promoted at WIPO. The UN and its member states must together reform WIPO to more accurately reflect the global public interest.”