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intellectual property

You Shall Not Pass! Wikimedia Foundation Denied Observer Status At WIPO

The fight over the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market has shown that European copyright rules affect the operation of Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects. Global rules are equally important. Negotiations take place in Geneva, at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Wikimedia Deutschland and the Free Knowledge Advocacy Group are committed to increasing transparency around WIPO negotiations on international copyright law, and shaping WIPO-level policy outcomes, especially facing the pressure by rightsholders’ to expand the scope of copyright protections. This is the third installment of a series on Wikimedia’s involvement at WIPO (see part I and part II).

China blocked the Wikimedia Foundation’s bid for observer status at WIPO. This is the second time this has happened after the Foundation’s initial application in 2020. Wikimedia’s exclusion sets a worrying precedent and should alert European lawmakers who are concerned about the democratic governance of intergovernmental organizations.

Unsurprising yet still disappointing

China’s move during last week’s general assembly session didn’t exactly come as a surprise. It was again the only country to explicitly object to the accreditation of the Wikimedia Foundation as an official observer. Since WIPO is generally run by consensus, any one country may veto accreditation requests by NGOs. The Foundation will reapply for official observer status in 2022, but it will only be admitted by WIPO if China decides to change its mind.

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COMMUNIA, the voice for public domain, celebrates 10. anniversary

Advocating for a better internet for all, we wouldn’t go far without our partners and collaborators. COMMUNIA International Association On the Digital Public Domain, where we are a member, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week.

Distinct profile, great results

In the digital rights bubble COMMUNIA is unique: its focus on digital public domain stems not from it running projects based on the use of these resources but because public domain – like any public good – requires preservation and protection. One could say that copyright is only a short break in the continuum of human creative heritage. However, with the creative industry’s insatiable appetite to expand and extend copyright (we are looking at you, Disney) there is a need for a targeted effort to keep public domain accessible to everyone.

These issues may seem abstract, but when we think of such classics as Anne Frank Diary and the absurdities of its release into public domain, we can see how important this work is. If that doesn’t convince you, think of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry– the story of extending the French copyright for works by authors that died during World War II is still one of the most read COMMUNIA articles.

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A little less conversation, a little more action, please: The EU and the TRIPS Waiver

Two weeks after the United States declared support for a temporary waiver on intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, the EU is still struggling to agree on a joint position. Germany where BioNTech – one of the leading mRNA vaccine developers – is headquartered is leading opposition against the so-called TRIPS Waiver. The fact that many EU member states are reluctant to consider this instrument may prolong the COVID-19 pandemic. 

An unexpected ally

The TRIPS Waiver initially put forward by India and South Africa would allow WTO members to temporarily suspend intellectual property protections to make diagnostics, therapies, and vaccines more widely available and more affordable. TRIPS stands for the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which is a core treaty of the World Trade Organization. Wikimedia Deutschland supports the TRIPS Waiver.

Read More »A little less conversation, a little more action, please: The EU and the TRIPS Waiver