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<nettime> [re] WIPO sneak trashes NGO dox
martin hardie on Sat, 20 Nov 2004 21:07:41 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> [re] WIPO sneak trashes NGO dox

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More from [Commons-Law] High Drama at the WIPO
Date: Friday 19 November 2004 16:07
From: "Shyamkrishna  Balganesh" <skbalganesh {AT} rediffmail.com>
To: commons-law {AT} sarai.net

This is an update on developments at the WIPO negotiations before the SCCR on
 the new Broadcast Treaty at Geneva. I'm here representing the Union for the
 Public Domain (UPD), an international organization which is taking a hard
 line, opposing the creation of new layers of property rights by the treaty.
 A large number of NGOs are here at the negotiations; but almost no other
 civil society representatives from the developing world. The broadcasters
 are of course very well represented, as is to be expected. During Day 2 of
 the negotiations yesterday, a rather bizarre incident occurred, which forced
 the SCCR Assembly to spend some time dicussing the role of NGOs and civil
 society in IP negotiations.

Three NGOs - the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), IP Justice and the
 Union for the Public Domain (UPD) had handouts which they wanted placed at a
 desk near the entrance to the assembly room traditionally reserved for
 documents, and on which other organizations (primarily broadcasters) had
 placed documents. Half-way through the morning session, some members of the
 NGO group found that all of their handouts had disappeared altogether. It
 was later found that large stacks of the documents (in 50s and 100s) had
 been thrown into the trash can in the men's room and in a couple of other
 trash cans. This was brought to the attention of the WIPO secretariat and
 the Chairman of the Assembly, who had coincidentally just made an
 announcement that NGOs were unlikely to get a chance to speak until much
 later in the session.

When the afternoon session commenced, the delegation of Brazil, which had
 just heard about the incident, raised its flag asking for the floor. On
 taking the floor, Brazil said that it had heard of this incident, was
 alarmed by these developments and when coupled with the fact that NGOs were
 unlikely to get a chance to take the floor and make their interventions, was
 unfair and deprived national delegates of the chance to hear from different
 parts of civil society. Almost immediately, the Indian delegation too raised
 its flag and echoed Brazil's sentiments on the need for NGO intervention in
 order to hear from experts and different interest groups and that the
 trashing of public interest NGO delegations was an attempt to thwart the
 democratic process.

The secretariat then apologised for the incident and the floor then opened on
 the issue of NGO intervention. Surprisingly several developing countries
 from Africa seemed openly annoyed by the suggestion that NGOs had anything
 to offer the assembly. Eventually the chair proposed a compromise - asking
 member nations to accelerate their interventions so as to allow NGOs to take
 the floor after member nations.

The NGOs eventually were given an opportunity to take the floor late last
 evening and the whole of today morning, as a consequence. Different interest
 groups voiced their concerns and objections and their support/opposition for
 the treaty itself.

A full text of the proceedings is available at the website of the Union for
 the Public Domain (UPD) at <http://www.public-domain.org>, as also my
 intervention on behalf of the UPD. The Indian delegation this time was
 represented by members from their Permanent Mission - Mr. Debabrata Saha and
 Ms. Preeti Saran, the Director and Registrar of Copyrights - Mr. Madhukar
 Sinha and the Undersecretary to the Ministry of HRD - Mr. L.R. Aggarwal. It
 must be said that India was one among the few strong voices arguing for
 greater caution in pushing for further intellectual property protection.
 Together with Brazil, they formed an alliance that kept intervening with
 strong statements on different parts of the treaty - most notably on
 anti-circumvention, web-casting and the need for a signal-based treaty,
 rather than a property-rights based approach.

The SCCR session ends later today and I will post the final decision arrived
 at by the assembly, later. Please get in touch with me if you require any
 further information on the treaty itself or the SCCR process at the WIPO.

- Shyam.


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