UPD Proposals for the WIPO Development Agenda Meetings

April 13, 2005

Mr. Chairman, congratulations on your election as chair. The Union for the Public Domain is an international organization that works for the protection of the public domain and access to knowledge.

Social and economic development is increasingly dependent on access to knowledge. WIPO must have a more balanced work program that gives attention to the mechanisms that promote or expand access to knowledge.

1) WIPO should evaluate alternatives to monopolies on knowledge.

Granting monopoly rights over knowledge restricts freedom, imposes costs on consumers and presents barriers to follow-on innovation. Knowledge monopolies should only be used sparingly by national governments=97in cases where better means to stimulate creativity and innovation do not exist, and where human rights are respected.

In the last decade, models of open innovation such as the Internet Engineering Task Force, the World Wide Web consortium, free and open source software, the human genome project, and the open access publishing movement have proved to be useful and powerful tools to spur innovation and provide access to knowledge. WIPO needs to understand and support such new business models. WIPO should avoid policies, like software patents, that undermine these efforts.

2) Exceptions and limitations must be utilized to promote development.

WIPO has played an instrumental role in explaining TRIPS obligations to developing countries. The WIPO secretariat should redouble its efforts to identify and explain flexibilities that exist under TRIPS for facilitating access to knowledge.

The Standing Committees on Patents and Copyrights should discuss the implementation of Article 40 of the TRIPS on the control of anti-competitive practices. WIPO should consider how developing countries can adopt per se rules that will encourage the transfer of knowledge and promote access to knowledge.

3) WIPO should evaluate the long run consequences of new technological measures that control access to knowledge.

Technological locks, such as "technological protection measures" and "digital rights management" are being used to override national copyright exceptions and limitations, increase the cost of access to knowledge, restrict competition and preclude the development and use of Free and Open Source Software.

The Standing Committee on Copyright should schedule on its agenda a discussion of how TPMs and DRMs affect consumer interests.

Finally, WIPO should develop a pro-active agenda to address growing problems concerning access to knowledge. The relevant standing committees, or a special committee, should consider possible elements for a proposed treaty on Access to Knowledge.

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