What will be discussed at this meeting of the CDIP?

The Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) is a body created by WIPO’s general assembly in 2008. It is tasked with creating and adapting programs according to the 45 recommendations of the Development Agenda. The CDIP will be meeting from May 19th to the 23rd of this year and has many items on its agenda. Several topics are planned for discussion, the most relevant of which will follow.

First, the committee has chosen to have a third party independent review of its implementation of the development agenda recommendations to its programs. Before doing this however, the committee must discuss and arrive at a consensus on the terms of reference to be used for the review (CDIP/13 Webcast: Mon 19 – English Morning Session).

The next item has the CDIP tasked with the discussion and reporting of two important issues. The first is the implementation of the ‘Coordination Mechanism’, or the Coordination Mechanisms and Monitoring, Assessing and Reporting Modalities, which requests reports from all WIPO bodies on how they are implementing the development agenda recommendations. Secondly, CDIP must come to consensus on a new agenda item on the third pillar of the CDIP mandate, Technology Transfer, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Access to Knowledge. According to WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, this “cannot be referred back to the General Assembly until such time as you, in the CDIP, have reached agreement upon a recommendation that can form the basis of a decision of the General Assembly” (CDIP/13 Webcast: Mon 19 – English Morning Session).

The External Review of WIPO Technical Assistance in the Area of Cooperation for Development will further be discussed in order to identify the best ways to improve WIPO’s technical assistance activities. Technical assistance, in this context, refers to the development of programs that will enable developing nations to participate in the global intellectual property system. This encompasses a number of programs including online services that seek to facilitate filing and registering IP rights and other initiatives that seek to better integrate regional systems to the global IP infrastructure (WIPO).

Finally, the CDIP will discuss Patent Related Flexibilities in the Multilateral Legal Framework and their Legislative Implementation at the National and Regional Levels. According to recommendation 14 of the WIPO’s Development Agenda, “Within the framework of the agreement between WIPO and the WTO, WIPO shall make available advice to developing countries and LDCs, on the implementation and operation of the rights and obligations and the understanding and use of flexibilities contained in the TRIPS Agreement” (WIPO).

At the Thirteenth Session of WIPO's CDIP
Photo: WIPO – Emmanuel Berrod

Little Progress at SCCR

There was again no real progress after another effort to concretize the future work of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR). The inability to arrive at any conclusions was due to tension between the positions of developing and developed nations.

The Twenty Seventh Session of WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights
Photo: WIPO – Emmanuel Berrod

The 27th meeting of the SCCR took place from April 28th to May 2nd, 2014. The week began with the discussion of rights for broadcasters and ended with exceptions for libraries and archives. With developing nations trying to obtain more beneficial rights regimes and developed nations trying to maintain current states of affairs which are advantageous to them, both topics ended at a stalemate.

Developing countries hope to produce a treaty that would allow exceptions in copyright for libraries and archives. This proposal was most strongly and vocally opposed by the European Union (IP Watch). Delegates from the EU were adamant about the removal of references to copyright exceptions in ‘text-based’ work relating to libraries and archives. This was seen by other delegates and library and archive NGOs as an attempt to slow or completely halt any progress on making exceptions to copyright (IFLA).

Delegates were also slow to come to any agreement in terms of broadcasters’ rights. This slow progress was attributed to the highly technical nature of the terms being discussed. Informal consultations were said to have brought many of the delegates up to speed on these matters (IP Watch). Most of the conclusions presented were accepted after changes to just about every paragraph. Nevertheless progress was made towards an international treaty to protect broadcasters’ rights.

Libraries Decry Digital Locks

A meeting at the World Intellectual Property Organization last week on a possible international treaty or international instrument that would enable libraries and archives to better preserve cultural heritage and better enable access to information by people around the world ended in stalemate.

The Twenty Seventh Session of WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights
Photo: WIPO – Emmanuel Berrod

This outcome was unfortunate for developing countries as well as library and archive NGOs who feel the direct pressure of the rigidity of national intellectual property laws. On behalf of the Canadian Library Association, Margaret Ann Wilkinson made a statement at the meetings, noting that since 2012 “Canadian libraries’ abilities to meet the needs of our users have been compromised through the recent introduction into Canadian law of legal protection for Technological Protection Measures and Digital Rights Management” (IFLA).

Wilkinson concluded that:

an international treaty with a provision declaring states must legislate such that libraries and archives can circumvent Technological Protection Measures in order to exercise their statutory limitations and exceptions to the rights of the rights holders will restore balance. Such a treaty will allow libraries and archives, including Canadian libraries and archives, to serve their important public interest function.

Gurry appointed for second term at WIPO

Francis Gurry has been appointed by the member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for a second term as Director General.

Gurry is responsible for “signing, sealing, and delivering” two new intellectual property treaties, including the 2013 Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities, the first WIPO treaty ever to focus on granting  access to copyright works rather than on granting new intellectual property rights. He also delivered the 2012 Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances.

Controversies had surrounded Gurry’s tenure as head of WIPO, including recent allegations of misconduct (see also report by Fox News); the failure to conclude the fall 2013 General Assembly on time, requiring an extraordinary meeting in December; controversies over the process for establishing new WIPO regional offices; and the (later resolved) shipment of computer equipment to North Korea and Iran.  Some Members of US Congress have opposed his reappointment.

The Twenty Seventh Session of WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights
Photo: WIPO – Emmanuel Berrod

In his acceptance speech, Gurry made note of a number of challenges that lie ahead, including “asymmetries of wealth, opportunity and knowledge; historical and contemporary trust deficits; and the reality of a multi-speed and multi-tiered world in which multilateralism, while being the highest expression of inclusiveness and legitimacy, is nevertheless the slowest solution.”  He also thanked the diplomatic community in Geneva, saying  “Ambassadors and their colleagues have been extremely generous with their time and availability, very indulgent of my failings and shortcomings and always willing to engage and to assist in overcoming difficulties.”

Gurry, an Australian, was appointed from a slate of four candidates including also Nigerian Geoffrey Onyeama, WIPO Deputy Director General; Alfredo Suescum, Chair of WTO TRIPs Council and Panama’s Ambassador to the World Trade Organization; and diplomat Jüri Seilenthal of Estonia.  Seilenthal was eliminated in March.  Gurry’s second term will last until 2020.