You may recall that the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has been haunted by scandal: first there was the matter of illegally funding computer purchases for North Korea and Iran, then a whistleblower came forward to claim that WIPO Director General Francis Gurry illegally harvested DNA samples from staffers to find out who had sent anonymous letters alleging his sexual misconduct.
But it gets worse.
Patent lawyer and blogger Gene Quinn recently posted the "Report of Misconduct" written by James Pooley, a deputy of Gurry's, which went into eye-watering detail about Gurry's alleged misconduct. But the document has since been removed, because WIPO's legal counsel, Edward Kwakwa (who was the nexus of the North Korea/Iran scandal, sent a totally bogus legal threat to Quinn, threatening him with criminal charges for publishing a document that a WIPO staffer produced as part of an inquiry into gross misconduct at the highest levels of the organization.
Quinn has chosen not to fight this, taking down his post and the associated documents, noting that while he believes in the First Amendment, he's currently recovering from hip replacement surgery and is in no condition to take on this sort of fight at the moment. I've seen at least two other reporters and bloggers who claim to have a copy of the report similarly refuse to post it, noting that it's not worth the legal fight.
And thus WIPO has effectively censored a report on misconduct by its Director General, filed by a senior deputy. To me that's just as, if not more, incriminating than the original charges of the DNA collection. The fact that WIPO believes this is appropriate screams of a coverup from an organization that has something to hide. Perhaps it's no surprise -- given how often we've seen copyright used for censorship -- to find out that the organization that pushes for greater copyright and patent maximalism around the world is also a fan of direct intimidation and censorship of journalists.
However, it should certainly call into serious question how WIPO functions, and whether Director Gurry is the sort of person who should be leading the organization when it appears to be doing all this under his watch.
(Image: HL Dialogue No 3, ICT Innovations and Standards, a CC-BY image from itupictures)