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Thursday, 4 October 2012

PPI: better inside the tent, or out?

Non-approval of PPI's
observer status: it seems
a little fishy ...
"Delay Of Pirate Parties’ WIPO Observer Status Raises Questions" is the striking title of a post today by Intellectual Property Watch's William New.  It reads, in relevant part:
"Member governments of the World Intellectual Property Organization yesterday approved all but one application for international nongovernmental observer status at the UN agency: Pirate Parties International. This is likely to lead to a discussion of who can be an observer, sources say.

The action was taken on 3 October during the annual WIPO General Assembly, without significant discussion, after closed-door informal meetings of the Group B developed countries that included a consult with the WIPO general counsel, according to sources.

The Pirate Parties International [PPI] group is registered as a Brussels, Belgium-based international nongovernmental organisation. It represents the Pirate Party movement, which includes numerous elected officials worldwide, with a platform of striving to reform law regarding copyrights and patents.

Political parties may be able join WIPO as observers through an NGO, and the PPI asserted in its application materials that it is an international NGO that supports pirate parties, and is not itself a political party.

Some Group B countries such as Sweden and Germany have publicly elected officials from the party, and were reportedly more reluctant to take a stand against observer status.

According to a participant, Group B countries were looking for a legal basis to block the group from joining WIPO, but could not find an objection based on current WIPO admission procedures. Countries need more time to analyse the application before deciding, the source said. It could be considered during the year to amend the admission procedures, another source said.

There could be consideration given to narrowing the scope of who could be an observer, as some think it has expanded beyond those specifically interested in IP rights. WIPO now has some 200 NGO observers, more than member states.

In particular, France, Switzerland and the United States were named by NGO Knowledge Ecology International as having raised questions about allowing political parties in as observers. Several sources confirmed Switzerland and the US.

Amelia Andersdotter, a Swedish Pirate Party representative to the European Parliament, in a blog post entitled “World Pretentious Property Organisation” yesterday called the decision “distressing.” She suggested that it runs contrary to WIPO Director General Francis Gurry’s call for WIPO to remain non-political, by actually politicising the issue of membership.

Andersdotter noted that in WIPO, the European Union, represented by the European Commission, does not have a voice as it is not an independent member of the United Nations.

Nick Ashton-Hart of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) raised a question about the PPI delay to Intellectual Property Watch afterwards.
“If the NGO’s application falls within a plain wording of the rules and regulations defining what NGOs may be accredited, then the application should be granted. ... From our perspective, what harm can there be for the secretariat of a political party to be an observer at WIPO? If anything, it seems to us this will lead to a better understanding by that secretariat of the international dimension of IP public policy, which is no bad thing”.
A Pirate Party representative was quoted in a report on TorrentFreak as saying the group was not even informed by WIPO that its application was up for decision this week.

WIPO would not comment on the PPI subject other than to confirm that members had deferred the decision. ... ".
This Kat is not a member of the Pirate Party and does not support its aims and objectives: far from it, he finds little in the Pirate Party programme that appeals to him at all.  However, he is obliged to say that the organisation as a whole has impressed him more than he ever imagined it could.  First, it has sought to advance its aims through debate, discussion and the democratic process rather than through attacking websites of intellectual property owners and organisations; secondly, those members whom he has met have shown a welcome willingness to learn how intellectual property actually works so that they can criticise it from a position of knowledge rather than merely chant hostile slogans against it.  Like Nick Ashton-Hart, in the quote above, he sees no reason why any organisation should be denied observer status if it fulfils the formal criteria for accreditation and agrees that the presence of the PPI is  likely to increase understanding; it can hardly diminish it.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you have infringed copyright by failing to include the CC-By-ND licence conditions.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear. Sounds like a move intended to stifle debate, which in my view is A Bad Thing.

Anonymous said...

Infringement of copyright?

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 sec,30(2) -- Fair dealing with a work (other than a photograph) for the purpose of reporting current events does not infringe any copyright in the work provided that (subject to subsection (3)) it is accompanied by a sufficient
acknowledgement.

Andrew "K`Tetch" Norton said...

"This Kat is not a member of the Pirate Party and does not support its aims and objectives: far from it, he finds little in the Pirate Party programme that appeals to him at all."

So you find little to appeal to you in having government transparency? Or how about a vast increase in personal privacy for you?

Are you sure you're talking about the actual Pirate Party program, OR are you talking about what you THINK it is?

Andrew Norton
Longtime IP Kat reader,
Former Music label copyright enforcer
PPUK and USPP member
Former head of the USPP
Former head of PPI (including through the last EU elections)

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