WIPO General Assembly Highlights Positions On Key IP Policy Issues25/09/2014 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 2 CommentsShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (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)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.In the opening days of this week’s annual World Intellectual Property Organization General Assembly, member governments showed a diversity of views on issues such as negotiations for possible treaties on broadcasters’ rights, design law, copyright exceptions for libraries, and protection of traditional knowledge. But one of the biggest gaps is over the future of the WIPO Development Agenda, with some countries suggesting a new course for this agenda, and proponents deeply concerned about a loss of momentum. The WIPO General Assembly is taking place from 22-30 September.On issues relating to the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) work is ongoing informally to decide on the committee’s work programme for next year.Informal discussions also are being held during the week among member states on the issues of: budget definition for development expenditures; an industrial design law treaty; governance issues; new external offices; and the work programme of a committee negotiating a treaty or treaties on traditional knowledge, genetic resources and folklore.On external offices, members are seeking agreement on guiding principles for the opening of new WIPO external offices.On the future work of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), an agreement is imperative to continue the mandate of the committee. Also in the discussions is whether or not a diplomatic conference can be convened on the treaty or treaties (referred to as “instruments” in the committee).Still also pending is the decision on the convening of a diplomatic conference to agree on a design law treaty.DevelopmentA set of decisions was adopted on 24 Septemberon the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), while discussions on the subject confirmed that strong differences have arisen on the perception of WIPO’s implementation of the 2007 Development Agenda.In general, developed countries find that the Development Agenda and its 45 recommendations are being appropriately streamlined in WIPO’s activities, in particular through its technical assistance and capacity-building programmes, as well as development-related projects.Japan, on behalf of Group B developed countries, said the Development Agenda should contribute to the objectives of the organisation, in particular its service objectives.A number of developing countries, in their opening statements, remarked positively on WIPO’s technical assistance and capacity-building in their country, for example through the establishment of workshops on the use of the IP system.However, concerning the CDIP, developing countries, although agreeing on the usefulness of development projects which are being carried out through the committee, are not fully satisfied with the implementation of the Development Agenda. In opening statements, a number of developing countries underlined the issue. Algeria said the Development Agenda should be a strategic priority for WIPO, while South Africa said the mainstreaming of the Development Agenda remained a challenge.Members were reminded that WIPO’s mission is to protect IP, South Africa said it cannot be “business as usual” when some countries are “hell-bent” on undoing progress that has been made.The nongovernmental Third World Network, in an intervention, said WIPO ceased to be only focused on enforcement when it agreed to be part of the UN.The African Group called for a more systematic reporting mechanism for committees to report on their contribution to the Development Agenda recommendations. A number of countries asked that the terms of reference for an independent review of the implementation of the Development Agenda Recommendations be agreed upon. They also called for a decision on the convening of an international conference on IP and Development to be taken. The CDIP could not, during the last sessions, agree on either of those subjects.US: Time to Rethink Function of Development AgendaThe United States said that many Development Agenda projects have proved useful for developing and least-developed countries, but that the Development Agenda “has also been used to block progress in a number of WIPO bodies during the last year.”WIPO was created to promote IP protection throughout the world through cooperation among states, the US delegate said, adding “this objective has not been changed by the Development Agenda.” The Development Agenda was intended to support development through the use, the protection and enforcement of IP, and not to obstruct the substantive work of WIPO committees, she said.“It might time to collectively rethink the function of DA so that this organisation can continue carrying out its substantive work according to the mandate for the benefit of all member states,” the delegate said, adding the US is ready to work in the CDIP to resolve issues and “resume the normal functioning of WIPO.”Uruguay expressed concern that in some statements WIPO’s function appears to be reduced to service-providing rather than a United Nations agency. “We [should] recognise that we have a problem,” he said, “and for once and for all we need to sit down to talk, in an extended fashion, and solve this issue,” the delegate said.Algeria said the world is changing and IP as an end in itself is no longer possible, adding that the Development Agenda “is a reality in WIPO.” Egypt said that the CDIP should be institutionally reformed and enhanced to enable it to assume its responsibility and fulfil its mandate, and the coordination mechanism be made more effective, its reporting strengthened.Three documents were under consideration: Report [pdf] of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) and Review of the Implementation of the Development Agenda Recommendations, Description [pdf] of the Contribution of the Relevant WIPO Bodies to the Implementation of the Respective Development Agenda Recommendations, and Decision [pdf] on the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) Related Matters.All draft decisions in the documents considered were adopted by the General Assembly, which took note of the report and the description, and engaged the CDIP to discuss further on CDIP-related matters and report back to the 2015 General Assembly.CopyrightThe Standing Committee on Copyright and Related-Rights (SCCR) is currently occupied with a potential treaty on the protection of broadcasting organisations’ rights, and discussions on limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, as well as for education, research and persons with disabilities other than visual impairment.This committee negotiated the two most recent WIPO treaties: the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances, and the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled.India, in June, became the first country to ratify and become a member of the Marrakesh Treaty. This week, India encouraged other countries to follow suit so that the number of ratifications (20) is reached to allow the coming into force of the treaty. Uruguay will be soon to follow as it ratified the treaty in August, according to the Uruguayan delegate.Five countries have so far ratified the Beijing Treaty (Botswana, China, Japan, Slovakia, and Syria).Developing countries underlined the importance of sustained discussions on limitations and exceptions and the establishment of an international treaty, while developed countries, although not avoiding discussions are of the opinion that the current IP system already provides for adequate exceptions and limitations.Developing countries also seek a “balanced” allocation of time in the SCCR between the three issues discussed. Uruguay noted that trying to limit discussions on limitations and exceptions will not accelerate the work on broadcasting.The European Union said in their opening statement that “it is essential to undertake a thorough reflection as to the future work programme of the SCCR, its working methods and its role.” The United States, in their opening statement, said it does not support “binding norm-setting” in limitations and exceptions to copyright.This year, member states could not find agreement at the two sessions of the SCCR on future work or on any recommendation to the General Assembly. Informal consultations are to be conducted to reach agreement on a work programme for the next SCCR sessions.Libraries Seek Exceptions, Broadcasters Concerned The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the Electronic Information for Libraries said that some countries do not have exceptions for libraries and archives, and in those that do, exceptions are often not being updated for the digital environment.Disparity in national exceptions and limitations for libraries “makes it virtually impossible to competently” for them to fulfil their role as intermediaries between right holders and users, the representative said.Those organisations called on WIPO to “set international minimum norms designed to solve the real practical copyright problems that libraries and archives face in providing information services,” and urged the General Assembly to “renew its recommendations made in 2012 that SCCR continues its text-based work towards a binding international legal instrument….”Meanwhile, the European Broadcasting Union said the committee was close to losing its credibility after years of fruitless discussions, which “makes the SCCR process impossible to explain to the outside world.” The delegate urged the committee to speed up its work to reach agreement on a swift convening of a high-level negotiation meeting to finalise the treaty.Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) said it opposes further work on the broadcasting treat. “The broadcasting lobby is looking for economic rights in content they did not create and do not own, and this will come at the expense of copyright holders and consumers.”KEI, on the other hand, said it supports work on limitations and exceptions, “including work on binding treaties setting out minimum standards for exceptions, but also, in addition, work on a revision of the Tunis Model Law for developing countries.”William New contributed to this report. Image Credits: WIPO FlickrShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (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)RelatedCatherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."WIPO General Assembly Highlights Positions On Key IP Policy Issues" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.