Saturday, November 13, 2010

Latif on WIPO reform

Ahmed Abdel Latif has an opinion piece in Intellectual Property Watch, following on Lawrence Lessig's recent visit to WIPO. Both ask whether the international intellectual property system is in need of fundamental reform. Lessig called for "an overhaul of the copyright system which he says does not and never will make sense in the digital environment." Latif argues that "Professor Lessig is right. His call for global copyright reform is welcome and timely. However, past WIPO led efforts in this area have rather been unsuccessful."

Past changes to the international copyright system, as embodied in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886), have mostly resulted in the strengthening of copyright rules to the benefit of rights holders. All attempts to reform it to the benefit of users of copyrighted materials, such as consumers and developing countries, have either failed or been of limited effectiveness such as in the case of the Berne Appendix (1971) which contains special provisions for developing countries.
The recent WIPO reform initiative embodied in the WIPO Development Agenda, he notes, is still underway, and Latif questions whether some current WIPO initiatives conform with the letter and spirit of the Development Agenda. He calls for reform that takes place through "an open, inclusive and participatory consultation process where ‘all of us’ have a say."