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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Copyfight

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March 8, 2005

What Happens When You Have a WIPO Meeting...

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...and nobody is allowed to show up?

Or, in another clever variation of the theme, you're told to meet in separate groups somewhere far away, where it's too expensive for those who support your position to join you?

Yesterday I provided the fleetest of updates on the first scenario. Cory did a better job of it over at BoingBoing, capturing in a few typically vivid sentences where we are in the struggle to introduce public-interest considerations to WIPO decisionmaking:


When I first got involved [in WIPO], I wasn't sure that we could make a different against this monolithic, enormous institution, but these days, I'm less worried: WIPO has been fighting the participation of public interest groups with the kinds of dirty tricks that indicate that they're running scared, which means that we're doing something right.

Now David Tannenbaum has written an excellent LawMeme post providing details on the second. In short, WIPO is engaging in a "divide and conquer" strategy with regard to the "Substantive Patent Law Treaty," and a group of Development Agenda supporters is formally protesting:

Regional consultations are generally held in far-flung corners of the world, unreachable by civil society NGOs [non-government organizations] on a low budget and less likely to covered by the press. There are generally no formal requirements to invite any single country, and some countries have argued that the Casablanca meeting excluded countries that expressed vocal opposition to the wealthy nations' proposals.

Shades of the struggle over the EU software patents directive? But of course. It's an old bag of tricks, but if they keep working, no one's going to stop using them.

As I've written before, it's very important that we shine as bright a light as possible on what's happening here.

It's tough to write about WIPO; you spend half your time unraveling acronyms, the other sending off flares to convey the urgency of the situation. But your voice here is very important. Most "big media" outlets aren't covering this story, and that's a huge advantage for the powers-that-be. If you're reading this post, please take a few minutes to write about how important it is that WIPO abandons these tricks and begins the real discussion about pursuing IP law and policy that serves the world majority rather than only a tiny minority of powerful entertainment companies.

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