World Intellectual Property Organization in shambolic chaos

Yesterday's WIPO General Assembly was the "worst ever," with rich and poor countries deadlocked over balanced copyright, fair use, and half a dozen other issues.

Most of the substantive work of WIPO has been moved to illegitimate, opaque, closed door trade agreements, like ACTA and TPP, leaving the UN agency as a kind of lame duck where the global south tries to get the rich countries to agree to basic fairness, like reasonable treatment of genetic data and the right of people with disabilities to convert copyrighted works to formats that they can use.

The 46th WIPO General Assembly is coming to a close, and it may be the worst ever, for the annual meetings held in September. There are deadlocks on a half dozen significant issues, and an ugly North South divide. Among the issues that will not have any significant conclusions are those relating to progress on a treaty for the protection of designs, a treaty for the protection of broadcasting organizations, work on norm setting for copyright exceptions, the IGC basket of issues including a possible agreement on disclosure of genetic resources, and protection of traditional knowledge or traditional cultural expressions. The European Union (EU) and the Central European and Baltic States (CEBS) group were particularly aggressive in blocking work on copyright exceptions. The fact that the EU was willing to see no progress on the designs or broadcasting treaties, in order to block any agreement on language supporting text based work on copyright exceptions illustrates how much the EU is in the pocket of publishers.

WIPO General Assembly: Worst ever? [Jamie Love/Knowledge Ecology International]