EDRI statement at WIPO Development Agenda meeting (IIM)

By EDRi · April 20, 2005

After signing an international petition urging the WIPO to open its doors
to non-governmental organisations for the important debates on developing
an alternative development agenda, European Digital Rights was awarded
last-minute ad hoc accreditation on 11 April 2005. The German DRM-expert
Volker Grassmuck was able to make a statement on behalf of EDRI during a
special Inter-sessional Inter-governmental Meeting (IIM) from 11-15 April

Grassmuck concentrated on the conflict between the circumvention
protection of DRM and copyright exceptions. Article 11 of the WIPO
Copyright Treaty obligates Members to “provide adequate legal protection
and effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective
technological measures.” Many WIPO Members, including most European
countries have therefore introduced anti-circumvention provisions into
their national laws. While in Europe recently some interesting balances
have been struck by governments, for example the unique agreement with
German Publishers Association, the German Phonographic Industry and the
German Library to enable the National Library to circumvent DRMs for
preservation purposes, the situation for the developing nations is
extremely bleak. Grassmuck said: “It therefore appears that while
developing nations are getting the same – some would argue excessive –
level of technologically implemented IP protection as developed nations,
they are lacking the corresponding mechanisms that counterbalance IP
protection with access to knowledge.”

But North-South discrepancies are not the only concern of European Digital
Rights: “Part of the next step towards re-establishing balance is defining
a set of minimum unwaivable exceptions as has been suggested by the
distinguished delegate from Chile at the last SCCR meeting. In particular,
as the only mandatory exception under Berne, there must be a mechanism to
protect the quotation exception against DRM, as pointed out by Sam
Ricketson in a WIPO study on limitations and exceptions.”

EDRI considers access for NGOs to these meetings crucial, since it offers
one of the very few chances to try to tilt the current imbalance between
right holders and consumers/civil society. On 4 October 2004 the WIPO
member states adopted a proposal from Argentine and Brazil (supported by
numerous developing nations) to work on a Development Agenda. At the
adoption, member countries explicitly called upon WIPO to ‘give greater
weight to the interests of consumers and public interest at large.’ But at
the IIM meeting only NGO’s with permanent member status before fall 2004
were allowed.

In the final statement of the IIM it was decided that EDRI and the other
non-permanent NGOs will also get ad hoc accreditation at the two follow-up
meetings on 20-22 June and in July.

Statement Volker Grassmuck on behalf of EDRI (12.04.2005)

Group Request for Reconsideration of NGO Accreditation Policy for WIPO Development Agenda Meetings 11 –15 April 2005 (29.03.2005)

Overview of other NGO and country statements at IIM