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<title>FSF Europe - Observing WIPO - Statement at the IIM on a Development Agenda, 13 April 2005</title>
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[ <a href="statement-20050413.en.pdf">PDF Version (44k)</a> ]
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<a href="/activities/policy.html">WIPO</a>
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<h1>Statement by Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) </h1>
<h4>Inter-sessional, inter-governmental meeting on a development agenda for WIPO (Geneva, 11-13 April 2005)</h4>
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<p>Mr. Chairman,</p>
<p>my congratulations to you and your distinguished colleagues for having
been entrusted with chairing this very important IIM. I speak on behalf
of the Free Software Foundation Europe, which has been following the
discussions around the establishment of a Development Agenda with great
interest. We thank all countries for their contributions and would in
particular like to commend the Friends of Development on their very
thoughtful and deep proposal.</p>
<p>Software is the medium that defines and structures the digital
domain. Cultural techniques, such as agriculture, reading and writing
have been essential to evolutionary steps of humankind. Software is
the digital cultural technique upon which the information age will
rest. Access to software determines who may participate in a digital
society.</p>
<p>During the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society in
December 2003 in Geneva, the Member States jointly adopted that
``equitable and affordable access to ICT infrastructure and services''
is one of the challenges the United Nations face, and that
``Connectivity is a central enabling agent in building the Information
Society.'' Standards and software models were identified as
cornerstones in the pursuit of the inclusive, developed Information
Society.</p>
<p>A recent study from the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany showed that
80% of all German exports depend on Information and Communication
Technologies. Because of this central nature of software, lack of
interoperability and a lack of competitiveness act to the detriment of
the entire national economies of all Member States. In recognition of
this fact, the UN Member States at the WSIS adopted that
``Standardization is one of the essential building blocks of the
Information Society.''</p>
<p>As recent cases have shown, traditional reactive antitrust instruments
are often incapable of matching the rapid pace of ICT evolution. A
more pro-active approach is required. As such, freely implementable,
publicly documented standards are one of the few known and proven
tools to protect interoperability and competition.</p>
<p>We therefore call upon WIPO to include in its policies effective
measures to ensure that software standards be freely implementable and
publicly documented.</p>
<p>Mr. Chairman,</p>
<p>as was adopted and endorsed at the WSIS, choice of software model is
another important component of the Information Society. Its Plan of
Action therefore encouraged research and called on all Member States
to promote awareness for the effects of the different software models.
Building upon Copyright, the global movement for software freedom has
spent the past 20 years providing a model that protects competition,
interoperability and sustainable development.</p>
<p>Equitable participation requires equal access and control, it requires
independence from the particular interests of foreign states and
entities. Today, only the Free Software model grants equal rights and
freedoms to all Member States, their corporations and citizens.</p>
<p>WIPO should therefore make sure that all its activities are fully
accessible and available with Free Software and include Free Software
in its technical assistance activities.</p>
<p>Mr. Chairman,</p>
<p>The model of Free Software has played a crucial role in the current
dawn of the information age, such as the invention and rise of the
internet. If by some magic Free Software were to disappear, so would
the internet. By using the Copyright system itself to mitigate some
of its restrictions, Free Software is the living proof that more
monopolies and more restrictions do not always mean more economic or
innovative activity.</p>
<p>We explicitly support the Friends of Development in their statement
that no tool should ever be promoted for its own sake and should
therefore be beyond review. FSFE supports the proposal to establish a
permanent dialog that pro-actively seeks alternative forms of
encouraging intellectual activity while monitoring and adjusting the
existing toolset of granting limited intellectual monopolies to best
meet the requirements of human development.</p>
<p>Essential building blocks of human creativity, such as access to
knowledge and freedom to participate in society and economy should
once again become the norm, not the exception.</p>
<p>Mr. Chairman,</p>
<p>it is the declared goal of WIPO to ``create real wealth for
nations.'' This IIM can be the first step towards WIPO meeting the
needs of being a true ``<a href="/activities/wipo/wiwo.html">World
Intellectual Wealth Organisation</a>'' of the Information Society. We
consider this a unique chance and will be glad to contribute to this
process in any way we can.</p>
<p>Thank you, Mr. Chairman.</p>
<p>
<a href="/activities/wsis/">UN World Summit on the Information Society</a> (WSIS),<br />
- Civil Society Patents, Copyrights, Trademarks (PCT) Working Group, Co-Coordinator<br />
- European Caucus, Coordinator<br />
- First phase Civil Society representative, German Governmental Delegation<br />
Expert for Copyright, Software and the Internet to <a href="http://www.iprcommission.org" target="_blank">UK IPR Commission</a>, 2001</p>
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