[A2k] GE's Thaddeus Burns wrote to US Amb. Betty King requesting US postpone Marrakesh Diplomatic Conference

Claire Cassedy claire.cassedy at keionline.org
Tue Oct 29 06:35:28 PDT 2013


GE's Thaddeus Burns wrote to US Ambassador Betty King requesting US
postpone Marrakesh Diplomatic Conference

The attached document is an 3-page communication dated May 2, 2013, from
GE's senior counsel, Thaddeus Burns, to US Ambassador Betty King (U.S.
Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva) requesting the United States to
postpone the Marrakesh Diplomatic Conference to Conclude a Treaty to
Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and
Persons with Print Disabilities.

The email, sent directly to Ambassador Betty King, was also cc'd to Shira
Perlmutter (USPTO), Todd Reves (USPTO, State), Karin Ferriter (USTR,
USPTO), and Karan Bhatia (GE Corporate), and Carl Horton (GE Corporate).

Mr. Burns expressed the following concerns to Ambassador King:

At this point in time I wanted to alert you before we meet this week with
USG agencies in Washington: US industry is very concerned about the
direction the negotiations have taken, and the likeihood of a premature and
incomplete outcome in Morocco in June.

The treaty as currently drafted does not reflect the appropriate balance
between copyright protection, on the one hand, and L/E to copyright
protection, on the other hand. The international copyright infrastructure
is fundamentally based on such balance. By casting it aside, the VIP Treaty
could set a very harmful precedent, affecting broader debates about global
IPR rules at the UNFCCC, WTO, WHO, WIPO, and elsewhere. It is crucial that
the VIP Treaty be consistent with existing international IPR agreements,
including the Berne Convention, the WIPO Copyright Treaty, and the WTO
TRIPS Agreement.

The VIP Treaty, in its current form, is strongly supported and advanced by
the same group of NGOs and advanced emerging economy countries that pursue
a general IPR-weakening agenda at WIPO and other international forums. As
currently drafted, the VIP Treaty would create a harmful precedent that
could be relied upon by IPR detractors in other talks, including at UNFCCC,
WHO, and WTO.

On process, Burns proffered the following advice to the US:

It is unlikely that all the of the flaws in the current VIP Treaty can be
addressed now and the June Diplomatic Conference. As such, the only option
at this time may be to to postpone the Conference and to continue
negotiation until an effective and acceptable outcome can be achieved. I
understand that there is a meeting taking place next week to be convened by
the Mexican Ambassador. Our coalition of trade associations and companies
are presently reaching out to other key negotiators including the EU,
Germany, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Brazil and others to make this point in
the hopes that Ambassadors in Geneva might prevail upon on Francis Gurry to
allow negotiators to continue towards a more workable text to be agreed
upon in a diplomatic conference at a later date.

As a postscript, the Marrakesh treaty [2] did finish its negotiations on
June 28, 2013, and became the first user rights copyright treaty. 51
countries signed the treaty on the first day it was open for signature, the
most for any IPR treaty, ever. The Obama Administration signed the treaty
on October 2, 2013.

[1] http://keionline.org/user/8
[2] http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/marrakesh/index.html
[3] http://keionline.org/sites/default/files/Thaddeus_Burns_GE_BettyKing.pdf

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