Friday, September 20, 2013

US Congresswoman known for internet leadership opposes WIPO head re-election

for Global Memo

US Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren has released a bipartisan letter calling on US Secretary of State John Kerry to oppose the re-election of WIPO Director General Francis Gurry over concerns relating to the WIPO export of computers to Iran and North Korea

Lofgren has been an activist on intellectual property issues in the United States, opposing the Stop Online Piracy Act, promoting the broadening fair use provisions through the Unlocking Technology Act (see also), advocating open access to taxpayer-funded research, and drafting Aaron's Law to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, under which internet activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide after undergoing prosecution under that act, was charged.

Intellectual property "supporters" such as Tom Giovanetti are, on the other hand, lining up in support of Gurry.  Giovanetti has said, in 2012:
I’ve been troubled by what I think is an unwise and ill-informed reaction on the part of some in the United States, especially from folks on my side of the aisle, who are rightly skeptical and critical of the United Nations as a whole, but who miss the important fact that WIPO is a different kind of UN agency—indeed, is unique among UN agencies in at least one important respect.

The Lofgren letter, on the other hand, calls Gurry's behaviour "erratic and secretive".  It appears that the technology export issue may continue to dog Gurry as the WIPO election process goes forward, and that the larger issues of WIPO transparency and accountability may be important in the race. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

WIPO solicits nominations for 2014 election of Director General

The process of considering nominations for the World Intellectual Property Organization's Director General post has begun.  Two names have been raised as contenders for the position.  Read my full post on Global Memo.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Countries should sign Marrakesh Treaty Sept 27

In June the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled was established through the World Intellectual Property Organization.  51 countries signed the treaty, but Canada and others have not yet signed.

At the upcoming September/October meeting of the General Assembly of WIPO, "An opportunity for additional Member States to sign the Treaty will be available...on September 27, 2013"  (page 2 para 7).

The UK, Switzerland, and Brazil, along with 48 other countries, all signed the treaty on the last day of the diplomatic conference.  To signify its support for the treaty and for rights for the visually impaired, and to reflect the reportedly valuable role that Canada played during the negotiations, Canada should sign the Marrakesh Treaty on September 27.

Interest groups and individuals should encourage their governments also to sign the treaty on September 27.  While September 27 will be an ideal occasion to do so, the treaty remains open for signature for one year until June 27 2014.  After that date, it will continue to be possible to accede to the treaty.