KEI general statement to 49th WIPO General Assemblies, 27 September 2011

KEI general statement to 49th WIPO General Assemblies
Statement of Knowledge Ecology International
49th Session of the WIPO Assemblies
Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Mr. Chairman,

As Knowledge Ecology International is taking the floor for the first time, I would like to congratulate you upon your election as Chair of the General Assembly.

KEI asks the General Assembly to authorize a diplomatic conference for a treaty for copyright exceptions for persons with disabilities, subject to agreement on the terms of reference for the diplomatic conference at the 23rd meeting of the WIPO SCCR in November.

The SCCR is close to an agreement, and may well be able to finish its work during SCCR 23. If this has to come back to the WIPO General Assembly in 2012, it will be impossible to have a diplomatic conference until 2013.

WIPO could do this by agreeing that if a diplomatic conference is scheduled for the AV performance treaty, the agenda could be broadened to include the disabilities issue.

We are not asking that progress on the AV treaty be linked to the disabilities issue, and indeed, oppose such a link. If the AV treaty is ready, and the disabilities issue is not, then the AV treaty should move forward by itself. However, if WIPO is going to make available space, time and money for one diplomatic conference, it would be feasible and cheaper and faster to expand the agenda, rather than having a separate diplomatic conference a year later. We note in 1996, WIPO considered four separate treaties, adopting the WCT and the WPPT, while failing to adopt treaties for databases and audiovisual performances. Not only is there a precedent, but there is a precedent involving the AV performances treaty.

On other copyright related topics, KEI opposes spending time on a broadcasters treaty until the demanders can identify the problem they are trying to solve, explaining the following: why a “solution” is (a) necessary, (b) the least restrictive to access to knowledge, (c) the least harmful to the rights of copyright holders and d) until WIPO can perform an economic impact assessment as was proposed by Professor Hargreaves last week at the WIPO Global Symposium of Intellectual Property Authorities.

On the the topic of patents, and in light on the UN high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases, KEI encourages the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) to undertake a report on the unequal access to patented drugs for cancer, and to consider reforms to address access to medicines concerns. KEI also calls upon the SCP to address the patent thicket issue for smart phones and other mobile computing devices.