Participation High For WIPO Online Public Forum, Official Says 21/06/2005 by Allison A. Meyer for Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)An online forum hosted by the World Intellectual Property Organisation aimed at shaping WIPO’s contribution to the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) generated a large turnout, according to a senior WIPO official. “We have gotten a great deal of response,” Richard Owens, director of the Copyright, E-Commerce, Technology and Management Division at Geneva-based WIPO, said in a post-forum interview. There were 374 total postings, submitted right up to midnight of the last day of the two-week online event. WIPO’s online forum, entitled Intellectual Property in the Information Society, was held from 1 to 15 June, and was intended to provide an opportunity for public dialogue on various intellectual property-related topics. The resulting contributions will form the basis for a formal paper to be submitted by WIPO at the November 2005 WSIS in Tunis, Tunisia. WIPO is expected to complete its synthesis of the comments received in the fall, said Owens. Ten discussion themes were developed for organizing forum participants’ comments, including how intellectual property (IP) policy is made for the information society (21 postings); how the IP system can support the vision set out in the WSIS Declaration of Principles (47 postings); the IP system’s impact on freedom of expression and creativity (67 postings); respecting cultural diversity of traditional communities in the information society (20 postings); the IP system’s relationship with the public domain and open access models of information (74 postings); the impact of copyright law on education and research (23 postings); the rights and responsibilities of IP rights holders (24 postings); IP’s role in global partnerships to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (14 postings); emerging business models effect on distributing IP online (30 postings); and lastly, the challenges for enforcement of IP rights in the digital environment (54 postings). Although WIPO provided background resources and beginning commentary for each of the ten discussion themes, officials did not moderate the forum and only three postings were removed from the website, said Owens, noting that those contained obscene or abusive content. Input came from industry representatives, academics and non-governmental organisation representatives, as well as a number of anonymous contributors, since no formal registration was required for the forum. According to Owens, such anonymity was “offered in a way to provide maximum flexibilities in contributions, and to give people the freedom to comment in their individual capacities.” Owens also said the website received a rush of rights-holder contributions at the end. The forum initiative itself was a part of what WIPO termed efforts to raise awareness about intellectual property issues and to encourage debate on ensuring the intellectual property system is accessible, balanced and responsive to all stakeholders. “There was a lot of honest dialogue,” Owens said. Contributors “commented thoughtfully and deeply on previous postings.” Comments ranged from strong support for the global IP system to vigorous calls for an end to IP rights. While the forum comments are seen by WIPO as important to its accountability to member states, the dialogue generated is not a “mainline” into WIPO policy-making, Owens said. Still, Owens said the effort “will be tremendously useful” as an opportunity to hear from stakeholders outside of Geneva. “It is quite groundbreaking for us,” he said. Open Access Theme Tops Postings The greatest number of contributions from these stakeholders went toward addressing the public domain and open access models of information. Substantial numbers of postings also appeared under the themes regarding the IP system’s impact on freedom of expression and creativity, and the challenges for enforcement of IP rights in the digital environment. Including open access as one of the discussion topics for the forum was “a reflection of reality,” Owens said. WIPO was “never not thinking about or not addressing open access,” he said, adding that there is no lack of interest or lack of engagement on the topic. Different ways of using the copyright system are proliferating, he said, and “we should know the implications of these efforts.” Specifically, Owens warned that it is important to understand how “new forms of creativity” such as open access, “interoperate” with existing (proprietary) digital services. Looking across all themes, discussions on a variety of sub-themes also emerged as participants debated a range of new developments in intellectual property including the Creative Commons licensing approach, open access to scientific and scholarly research literature, and peer to peer (P2P) file sharing. Some commenters provided additional links for background information regarding these recent phenomena, giving those new to the field of intellectual property resources to draw upon. A number of contributors to the online event took issue with the language used in intellectual property policy, and how the assumptions many rights holders and consumers have about the subject are reinforced by a choice of words. Poster Nicholas Bentley suggested replacing the term “intellectual property” with “intellectual contributions” because “by the nature of physically-instantiated things, property is exclusionary.” Bentley wondered if talking of intellectual contributions would remind stakeholders that intellectual works are made up of the contributions of all who came before, and whether a new term would help those to think of non-competing ways of dealing fairly with intellectual contributions. Another poster, Taran Rampersad, said “the legal use of the phrase ‘intellectual property’ is indeed misleading, and should not be used. We’re talking about copyright law, patent law and trademark law. It is not a mistake to call the appropriate laws by their names; public domain is a concept that patent, copyright and trademark law all use, but it certainly does not unite them.” Within the discussion on examining the rights and responsibilities of intellectual property rights holders, poster Hazel Moir suggested “rights” is also an incorrect word choice. Moir elaborated that intellectual property monopolies are privileges granted by societies in exchange for public benefits, and for a more even-handed debate on intellectual property, the term “right” should be replaced with “privilege” and “property” with “monopoly”. As the forum progressed, discussions elaborated into issues such as WIPO’s global institutional role, intellectual property in the context of international trade agreements, globalisation, the importance of traditional knowledge systems worldwide, and the tension between intellectual property and technological development. WIPO’s Online Forum may be found at: http://www.wipo.int/ipisforum/en/ Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "Participation High For WIPO Online Public Forum, Official Says" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.