WIPO Agrees To Development Agenda

National Review Tech Daily
William New, October 6, 2004

The World Intellectual Property Organization, sometimes criticized by nonprofit groups as favoring large intellectual property holders and wealthy nations, this week agreed to continue work on a proposal to integrate developing-country issues into the organization's activities.

The decision came after debate at the WIPO annual general assembly in Geneva on a proposal from Brazil and Argentina to "fully incorporate" and "take immediate action in providing for the incorporation of a 'development agenda.'" All developing countries in the 181-member organization backed the proposal, WIPO said.

Further meetings, open to inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, will be held on that and future proposals from developing countries. A seminar on intellectual property and development also will be organized.

Also at the assembly, a proposal by Japan and the United States to move forward with narrowed negotiations for a patent-law treaty failed to win consensus. In addition, WIPO members agreed to continue negotiating separate treaties on the rights of audiovisual performers and broadcasters.

Commenting on the development agenda, Cory Doctorow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said: "The ridiculous IP-at-any-cost position of WIPO has been laid bare and revealed for a sham. Now the organization is taking its first baby steps towards balance."

Jamie Love, director of the Consumer Project on Technology, called it a "change in culture" for WIPO and said the body "supported an entirely different approach," emphasizing previously neglected areas such as open-source software, which allows users to view the underlying code. "WIPO will never be the same," he said.

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