[Ip-health] WIPO General Assembly: Expectations loom over decisions on treaties for actors, reading disabled persons and genetic resources

Thirukumaran Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri Jul 29 00:22:18 PDT 2011


WIPO General Assembly: Expectations loom over decisions on treaties for actors, reading disabled persons and genetic resources

By thiru
Created 28 Jul 2011 - 6:43pm

The WIPO General Assembly meets from Monday, 26 September 2011 to Wednesday, 5 October 2011 and will take place at the International Conference Center Geneva (CICG), 17 rue de Varembé, 1211, Geneva.

The tentative schedule for 49th session of the WIPO General Assembly can be found here: http://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/govbody/en/a_49/a_49_1_prov_2.pdf [1].

This schedule notes that the Report of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) [2] and the Review of the Implementation of the Development Agenda Recommendations will be discussed on Thursday, 29 September 2011.

In particular the report notes:

11. With respect to the project on Open Collaborative Projects and Intellectual Property- Based Models contained in document CDIP/6/6, the Committee approved the project with the modifications proposed by a number of delegations and agreed by the Committee.
The revised project on Open Collaborative Projects and Intellectual Property-Based Models [3] is a 30 month project with estimated costs of 895,000 Swiss francs. This project is an implementation of Recommendation 36 of the Development Agenda which states: "To exchange experiences on open collaborative projects such as the Human Genome Project as well as on intellectual property models".

Of particular significance to public health and relevance to the de-linkage concept embedded within the WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property, this project will convene an experts meeting to "exchange best practices on open collaborative projects such as the Human Genome Project, the European Commission’s Open Living Labs Project, the Prize Proposals submitted by the Governments of Bangladesh, Barbados, Bolivia and Suriname to the WHO Expert Working Group on R&D Financing, and other private firms’ experiences such as InnoCentive, the Merck Gene Index and Natura".

The WIPO schedule notes that the Report on the Work of the Standing Committee on the Law of Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), Matters Concerning the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) and Information Reports on other WIPO Committees including the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP), the Standing Committee on Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT), the Committee on WIPO Standards (CWS) and the Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE) are slated for discussion on Friday, 30 September 2011. With respect to the IGC, it is expected that the Assembly will renew the mandate of the IGC with the intention of intensifying efforts to produce international legal instruments for the protection of genetic resources (GR), traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (folklore). 

The main demandeurs for norm-setting on sui generis protection for GR, TK and folklore are developing countries; the fact that the Decision [4]explicitly mentions the phrase "Diplomatic Conference" envisions the possibility that a WIPO administered Treaty for the protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore may become a distinct reality if there is sufficient political will. The question remains if this momentum generated for the IGC's particular norm-setting activity can be replicated in the SCCR's consideration of a WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons (TVI).

The Report on the Work of the SCCR, dated 26 July 2011 contains the following information concerning limitations and exceptions:

15. It is recalled that the SCCR has agreed to address the issue of exceptions and limitations to copyright and related rights for the purposes of education, libraries and persons with disabilities. The issue has been discussed at every ordinary SCCR session, from the 12th session held in November 2004 up to the present.

16. During the 21st session, the Committee agreed with a work program on limitations and exceptions for the two year period 2011-2012. Recognizing the need to advance the more mature areas, the work program encompasses text-based work with the objective of reaching agreement on appropriate limitations and exceptions for persons with print disabilities and other reading disabilities. In a similar manner, text-based work will be undertaken on appropriate exceptions and limitations for libraries, archives, educational, teaching and research institutions, and persons with other disabilities. The work program also includes the preparation of recommendations on these issues to the General Assemblies of 2011 and 2012.

17. As to the issue of limitations and exceptions for persons with print disabilities, three new substantive proposals were presented to the Committee in its 21st session, namely by the United States of America (consensus instrument), the African Group (treaty), and the European Union (recommendation). These three proposals were discussed by the Committee, together with a previous proposal (treaty) put forward by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay during the 18th session of the SCCR, which was later endorsed by Argentina and Mexico.

18. In its 22nd session, the Committee took note of two new documents, namely the comparative List of Proposals Related to Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for the Visually Impaired Persons and Other Persons with Print Disabilities, prepared by the Secretariat, and the Draft WIPO Treaty on Exceptions and Limitations for the Persons with Disabilities, Educational and Research Institutions, Libraries and Archives; proposal by the African Group, which revised the previous proposal put forward by this Group in 2010.

19. Informal consultations organized by some of the proponents of the above four substantive proposals on an international instrument on limitations and exceptions for persons with print disabilities served to explore points of commonality and possible convergence among the four texts. During the 22nd session of the SCCR, based on the work undertaken and on comments given by Members of the Committee, a group of Members presented a “Proposal on an international instrument on limitations and exceptions for persons with print disabilities.” At the end of the same session, the Committee asked the Chair to prepare a text for an international instrument on limitations and exceptions for persons with print disabilities which will constitute the basis for the future text-based work.

20. The Committee agreed to recommend to the WIPO General Assembly that Members of the Committee continue discussions regarding the abovementioned Chair’s document with the aim to agree and finalize a proposal on an international instrument on limitations and exceptions for persons with print disabilities in the 23rd session of the SCCR, in accordance with the timetable adopted at the 21st session of the SCCR

21. The Committee encouraged the stakeholders to continue the work of the Stakeholders’ Platform. The Platform has been led by the WIPO Director General since January 2009.

22. The issue of limitations and exceptions will be maintained on the Agenda of the 23rd session of the SCCR.

The following declarations contained in the implementation section of the Development Agenda recommendations in the SCCR report (WO/GA/40/6) give a flavor of the state of play in countries' views on the TVI.

The Delegation of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the implementation and mainstreaming of the Development Agenda recommendations in all areas in WIPO was of great importance to the African Group....The minimum standards for intellectual property use through exceptions and limitations to copyright and related rights remained an important issue not only to the African Group but to all developing countries and least-developed countries, as well as the developed countries, which had advanced systems of exceptions and limitations upholding the public interest, and especially contributing towards the achievement of the biennium development goals and other international development goals. It was within that context that the African Group attached great importance to the exceptions and limitations for persons with disabilities, including the visually impaired.

The Delegation of India, speaking on behalf of the Development Agenda Group (DAG), expressed its satisfaction for the conclusion and thanked all Member States for the spirit of accommodation and flexibility.....The DAG welcomed in particular the work plan agreed to at the 21st SCCR session that integrated rule-setting in the areas of exceptions and limitations to copyright, with particular reference to persons with print and other related disabilities, as well as libraries and archives, education, teaching and research institutions. The Group recognized the value of copyright in encouraging creativity and cultural development. It believed that with exceptions and limitations in key areas would allow governments to strike the necessary balance in their intellectual property systems to ensure that those rights did not adversely affect access to knowledge and culture to disadvantaged segments of the population, especially those in developing countries. Therefore, the Group welcomed the progress being made on the persons with print disabilities treaty and looked forward to an early and positive conclusion of it to allow the vast population of visually impaired and print disabled persons to access, enjoy and derive benefits from the wealth of printed literature around the world. The Group also looked forward to similar progress being made with regard to similar initiatives in the area of libraries, archives and education, as outlined in the SCCR work program.

The Delegation of Brazil expressed its views on the contribution of the implementation of the Development Agenda and believed that should be a model adopted by all relevant WIPO bodies. Since the approval at the last meeting of the work program on exceptions and limitations to visually impaired persons, libraries, archives and persons with print disabilities, the Committee had been on the right path to implement the Development Agenda recommendations,  which called for the need for balances in all WIPO normative activities. The need for balance had already been acknowledged in the WIPO Copyright Treaty, which stated “recognizing the need between the rights of authors and the larger public interest, particularly education, research and access to information as referred to in the Berne Convention.” The DAG thought it was important there was no second class treatment on the issue of exceptions and limitations. The Delegation further stressed that there was no reason why the Committee should be discussing a treaty for the benefit of actors and even for the benefit of broadcasting organizations, and not for the benefit of the blind. The Delegation pointed out the need to look further into that issue to find a sufficient and adequate solution.

The Delegation of the Philippines, referring to the statements of the Delegation of Pakistan and the Delegation of India, was encouraged by the progress made in the area of norm-setting in the Committee. To make the recommendations of the Development Agenda more meaningful, the Committee should also seriously look into the maintenance of robust public domain and copyright regimes which would serve as equations of new knowledge, follow-on innovation and enable low cost access to information for developing countries, particularly the least-developed countries. In the future, the Committee needed to revisit norms and standards embodied in various treaties administered by WIPO, particularly regarding works fallen into the public domain.

515. The Delegation of Barbados supported the statement of the Delegation of India as well as the statement from the Delegation of Brazil. It reiterated that there should be no second class treatment given to print disabled persons. While the SCCR was supporting the protection of audiovisual performances and the protection of broadcasting organizations, the Committee could surely support a treaty for the visually impaired and print disabled persons.

The GA will also consider the SCCR's Recommendation on Holding of a Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of Audiovisual Performances [5] in June/July 2012.

Source URL: http://keionline.org/node/1195


[1] http://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/govbody/en/a_49/a_49_1_prov_2.pdf
[2] http://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/govbody/en/wo_ga_40/wo_ga_40_5.pdf
[3] http://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/mdocs/en/cdip_6/cdip_6_6_rev.pdf
[4] http://keionline.org/node/1191
[5] http://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/govbody/en/wo_ga_40/wo_ga_40_11.pdf


Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)

thiru at keionline.org

Tel: +41 22 791 6727
Mobile: +41 76 508 0997

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