[Fsfe-ie] FW: [IP] USPTO, Microsoft seek to kill WIPO meeting on open collaborative models to develop public goods

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Thu Aug 21 00:30:14 CEST 2003

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-ip at v2.listbox.com [mailto:owner-ip at v2.listbox.com]On Behalf
Of Dave Farber
Sent: 20 August 2003 22:55
To: ip at v2.listbox.com
Subject: [IP] USPTO, Microsoft seek to kill WIPO meeting on open
collaborative models to develop public goods

>Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003 17:33:29 -0400
>From: James Love <james.love at cptech.org>
>Subject: USPTO, Microsoft seek to kill WIPO meeting on open collaborative
>  models to develop public goods
>To: Dave Farber <dave at farber.net>
>August 19, 2003. Technology Daily PM Edition
>Intellectual Property
>Global Group's Shift On 'Open Source' Meeting Spurs Stir
>by William New
>A request for a meeting on open development issues has plunged the
>Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) into a
>Washington political battle, causing it to shift its position on the issue.
>At issue is whether WIPO should hold a meeting next year on "open and
>collaborative projects" such as "open source" software, which allows users
>to view and modify underlying code.
>The meeting was proposed in a July 7 letter sent to WIPO Director General
>Kamil Idris by 68 distinguished scientists, academics, technologists,
>open-source advocates, consumer advocates, librarians, industry
>representatives and economists worldwide.
>Although the letter cited a broad range of open collaborative projects
>such as the World Wide Web and the Human Genome Project, the fight has
>focused on open-source software and on one signer of the letter -- James
>Love, director of the Consumer Project on Technology, who has actively
>pushed for the meeting.
>WIPO's initial response to the idea was so favorable that proponents began
>planning for a meeting. After receiving the letter, Francis Gurry, WIPO's
>assistant director and legal counsel, e-mailed a statement to a Nature
>magazine reporter calling such open development models "a very important
>and interesting development."
>"The director general of WIPO looks forward with enthusiasm to taking up
>the invitation to organize a conference to explore the scope and
>application of these models as vehicles for encouraging innovation," he
>But a few weeks later, WIPO backed off the idea. Gurry said he and other
>WIPO officials received "many calls" from consumer groups, trade
>associations, professional associations and representatives from
>"What happened in the intervening weeks is that a request for an open
>discussion on a range of 'projects' became transformed into an
>increasingly domestically, as opposed to internationally, oriented,
>polarized political and trade debate about one only of those 'projects',
>namely open-source software," Gurry told National Journal's Technology
>Daily on Tuesday. "In those circumstances, the possibility of conducting a
>policy discussion on intellectual property of the sort that might be
>appropriate for an international organization devoted to intellectual
>property became increasingly remote."
>U.S. government officials have argued that WIPO is an inappropriate place
>for such a meeting.
>One developing country representative to WIPO on Monday expressed
>disappointment at hearing that the meeting is in doubt, and Love and
>representatives from the Computer and Communications Industry Association
>(CCIA) were furious to learn of the shift. Love last week called the
>decision a "temporary setback," and vowed, "We're going to make this
>happen." But for meeting opponents, he said, it would be "as if you made
>an atheist pope for the day."
>CCIA President Ed Black said on Tuesday: "Does this indicate that WIPO is
>abdicating authority and responsibility for these issues, including open
>source for the future? If so, we will all live by that, but then so must
>they. They should step up the plate or step aside. ... It is inexplicable
>that they would shut the door on what are clearly important issues."
>Intellectual Property
>U.S. Official Opposes 'Open Source' Talks At WIPO
>by William New
>An international intellectual property body is not the place for
>discussions about "open source" software, which allows users to view and
>modify the underlying code, because it falls outside of the organization's
>mission, a senior U.S. official argued on Monday.
>Reviewing the original mission of the World Intellectual Property
>Organization (WIPO), said Lois Boland, the U.S. Patent and Trademark
>Office (PTO) acting director of international relations, it is "clearly
>limited to the protection of intellectual property. To have a meeting
>whose primary objective is to waive or remove those protections seems to
>go against the mission."
>Boland was referring to a July request by a group of scientists,
>academics, open-source advocates and others for a meeting at WIPO on "open
>and collaborative projects," including open-source software. The WIPO
>secretariat initially replied favorably to the idea.
>In a telephone interview, Boland gave several reasons why the Geneva-based
>WIPO should not hold the meeting, including a tight budget and late
>scheduling. She also said WIPO's agenda should be driven by member
>nations, and the idea came from outside the organization.
>Officials from the 179 WIPO nations will convene in late September to
>decide their agenda for the next two years; the agenda has been in the
>works for months and does not include open-development issues. "It would
>have been somewhat unusual for such a meeting to materialize out of
>nothing," Boland said.
>In the past six months, WIPO has had to cancel several meetings on topics
>directly relevant to the organization due to budgetary issues, she said,
>adding that with those problems, the organization should not "go out on a
>limb and express receptivity" to an open-development meeting.
>U.S. government officials have had "informal" communications with WIPO,
>Boland said. A WIPO official said that since receiving a wide range of
>communications, WIPO has stepped back from the idea of a meeting but has
>not fully rejected the possibility of addressing the topic.
>The U.S. government has an interagency process for developing formal
>positions at WIPO. A meeting that included officials from PTO and the
>Copyright Office was held last Thursday at the State Department. The
>Commerce Department and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative are part
>of the interagency process, too.
>Boland said the United States "would certainly have some rather
>bureaucratic objections" to WIPO considering a policy on open-source
>software. "There are technical and legalistic arguments to that."
>Open-source software is not protected under copyright law but only
>contract law, which is not the domain of WIPO, she said. That point has
>been heavily disputed by copyright experts.
>Boland suggested that the U.S. government supports open-source growth as a
>development tool and she proposed it for consideration by a U.N. body
>focused on development.
>She also reprimanded WIPO officials for publicly giving the impression
>that the body might consider open-source issues. "We think people working
>within the organization need to be better stewards of interactions" with
>nonprofit groups and other non-member organizations, she said.

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