Head of UN copyright agency says fair use is a "negative agenda," wants to get rid of discussions on rights for blind people and go back to giving privileges to giant companies

In this (non-embeddable, natch) video interview from the World Copyright Summit on June 8, Francis Gurry, the Director General of WIPO, the UN agency that creates and oversees global copyright policy, laments the current state of WIPO, saying that the copyright agenda there:
"... tends to be a negative one. It tends to be looking at the exceptions, the limitations, and the other ways of not having intellectual property. I'm very keen to see us coming back with a positive agenda for intellectual property."
Translation: our job isn't to figure out how to balance out freedom of speech and access with exclusive rights for authors and investors; more copyright is always good. And the subtext is, "All those public interest groups that have got us looking at rights for blind and disabled people, exemptions for poor countries, rights for educators and archivists, and Creative Commons-style 'some rights reserved' issues are distracting us from the real business of WIPO: maximizing copyright's benefit for a handful of corporate giants."

Several of the public interest groups at WIPO have objected in writing and asked for clarification:

In response to requests from Member States, exceptions and limitations have been placed on the agenda of SCCR. As a result, a very useful series of studies for the visually impaired, libraries and education has been published, followed by surveys of exceptions and limitations in Member States. We welcomed these studies and were happy to advise in their preparation upon WIPO's request. In our view WIPO, as the core UN agency for copyright, has a responsibility and a crucial role to be the neutral field for all stakeholders, respecting decisions made by Member States while setting the work agenda, and providing support with technical expertise for achieving Member State objectives. Your statement suggests a bias against balance and in favour of more protection; and your use of "us," given the audience you were addressing, could imply that the WIPO Secretariat is aligning itself with a specific set of rights holder interests. In this context, the library community and the World Blind Union would like to express its concern that the message to be taken from your remarks must be that copyright exceptions are negative for the welfare of copyright rather than being a positive and beneficial tool to sustain learning, support the exchange of scholarly information and promote creativity.

Meanwhile, WIPO continues to stumble forward with more Internet regulation proposals, including a proposal to make ISPs and domain registrars adjudicate and police trademark claims, "three strikes" Internet disconnection rules, and generally increased liability for "intermediaries" such as hosting companies, YouTube, WordPress, and ISPs, which would encourage them to censor and surveil their users.

WIPO is uniquely unqualified to regulate the Internet. Gossip has it that 'a Director-level staffer recently asked a group of Internet intermediaries the question "What does Web 2.0 mean?"'

(Thanks, Secret Informant!)

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