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  4. <meta name="author-name-1" content="Georg C.F. Greve"/>
  5. <meta name="author-link-1" content="/about/greve/greve.html"/>
  6. <meta name="publication-date" content="2005-09-30"/>
  7. <title>FSF Europe - Statement of the Free Software Foundations</title>
  8. </head>
  9. <body>
  10. <p id="category">
  11. <a href="/projects/un/">United Nations</a> / <a href="/projects/wipo/">WIPO</a>
  12. </p>
  13. <h1>Statement of the Free Software Foundations towards the 2005 WIPO general assemblies</h1>
  14. <h2 align="center">Free Software Foundation Europe</h2>
  15. <h2 align="center">Free Software Foundation Latin America</h2>
  16. <!--<p id="introduction"> Summary: </p>-->
  17. <p>Mr. Chairman,</p>
  18. <p>on behalf of the Free Software Foundations Europe and Latin
  19. America, let me express my congratulations to you and your colleagues
  20. on your chairing this historic general assembly. The Free Software
  21. Foundations are globally active centres of expertise acting in a
  22. network of sister organisations based in India, Latin America, Europe
  23. and the United States of America.</p>
  24. <p>Our area of expertise are the issues raised by a digitised society and
  25. economy, questions which are addressed effectively by Free Software;
  26. as defined by the freedom of unlimited use for any purpose, the
  27. freedom to study, the freedom to modify and the freedom to
  28. distribute.</p>
  29. <p>Through the Free Software Foundation Europe the FSFs participated in
  30. all sessions of the Development Agenda IIM process and also followed
  31. the broadcasting treaty negotiations with great interest. Our comments
  32. relate to both activities.</p>
  33. <p>Mr Chairman,</p>
  34. <p>much has been said and written about the knowledge society that
  35. humankind is about to enter. Looking at the regulatory initiatives,
  36. one stumbles upon a paradox: While society is getting ready to unleash
  37. human creativity as it has never done before, regulatory proposals
  38. seek to create new barriers.</p>
  39. <p>The Broadcasting Treaty is a good example of such a new barrier for
  40. which the potential benefits and costs seem unequally matched in
  41. disfavor of humankind.</p>
  42. <p>The result of ignoring the wisdom of approaching crucial legal
  43. regulation can be seen in another area: software patents have been
  44. introduced without evaluation, and according to the findings of
  45. several renowned institutions we now have to realise that they are
  46. harmful to competition and stifle innovation. For your information:
  47. these institutions include Massachussetts Institute of Technology
  48. (MIT), the Boston University School of Law, Price Waterhouse Coopers,
  49. US Federal Trade Commission and Deutsche Bank Research.</p>
  50. <p>The situation has degenerated to the point that a vice president of
  51. IBM, Mr Wladawsky-Berger, likened software patents to weapons of mass
  52. destruction in a New York Times interview.</p>
  53. <p>Similar experiences seem possible with the Broadcasting Treaty.</p>
  54. <p>Erecting additional barriers and raising all barriers by introduction
  55. of criminal sanctions against commercial infringement at a time when
  56. humankind is still struggling to fully understand the implications of
  57. the digital age would be hasty and unwise.</p>
  58. <p>Mr. Chairman,</p>
  59. <p>the traditional toolset of WIPO revolves centrally around limited
  60. monopolies, such as Copyrights, Patents or Trademarks. These have
  61. often been treated on the basis that more is always better, an
  62. approach that ignores both Liebigs law of the minimum as well as
  63. Shelfords law of tolerance: Not only will increasing the dose of the
  64. non-limiting factor have no positive effect, an overdose can be toxic.</p>
  65. <p>Finding the proper balance between too little and too much is the
  66. challenge that lies before any regulation. Given the fundamental
  67. impact of all regulations made on WIPO level, wisdom would suggest a
  68. conservative approach:</p>
  69. <p>New regulations should only be introduced if scientific evidence and
  70. evidence from a public review period conclusively show it to have a
  71. positive effect.</p>
  72. <p>Old regulations should be reviewed periodically as to whether they are
  73. still up to the needs of the time, or whether they require adjustment.</p>
  74. <p>In the light of the wisdom of Liebig and Shelford, agreeing to the
  75. creation of a WIPO Research and Evaluation Office (WERO) would seem
  76. trivial, so would the search for alternative means of fostering
  77. creativity.</p>
  78. <p>As the secretariat and member states correctly pointed out repeatedly
  79. in the past: WIPO exists to promote creativity. At the time of its
  80. inception, most alternative means of fostering creativity were not yet
  81. concieved, in particular those related to digitalisation. Now that
  82. they exist, what would seem more natural for WIPO than exploring them?</p>
  83. <p>The discussions around the Development Agenda have proven to be most
  84. difficult, also because of procedural discussions, which indeed took
  85. the majority of the time spent in the IIM process. After these had
  86. been largely resolved, substantive discussion took place, cut short by
  87. the need to come to a formal outcome that could be presented to this
  88. general assembly.</p>
  89. <p>Not continuing what was begun, or changing from a horse to a mule
  90. midstream, as the honored Indian delegate so eloquently put it, would
  91. be wasting the time and effort spent on this initiative by all sides,
  92. North and South. For this reason we strongly support the notion of
  93. letting the IIM process finish what it began.</p>
  94. <p>Mr Chairman,</p>
  95. <p>Thank you for your attention.</p>
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