from the is-this-really-what-africa-needs? dept
However, WIPO itself has expressed concerns about this... but rather than working to convince the US that its approach is incorrect, it looks like WIPO may be going back in the other direction of supporting pure maximalism (i.e., the US agenda). Witness the ridiculous situation shaping up in Africa, where "WIPO" is organizing a "training" program about intellectual property that appears to have been entirely created by the US. It's scheduled to take place in South Africa in April, but it's strictly focused on enforcement and concepts that the US supports, rather than more reasoned issues about what countries in Africa actually need:
“It’s as if the last five years didn’t happen – no WIPO Development Agenda, no discussion on copyright limitations and exceptions, no proposals in favour of libraries and archives, education, blind and visually impaired people,” said Teresa Hackett, Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL). “But they did happen, and we will work to ensure that delegates attending the African IP Forum hear a diversity of opinion and perspective, and have the opportunity to debate these issues that are critically important to libraries in Africa and around the world.”People discussing it note that this meeting doesn't appear to really be about effective intellectual property, but about setting the stage to force ACTA or ACTA-style agreements across Europe:
A particular concern of NGOs is that the conference will advance anti-counterfeiting legislation across Africa that will lead to damaging restrictions to the local populations and economies. They also raised alarm that the conference does not appear to include discussion on how to use the hard-won flexibilities that developing countries are allowed to employ so as not to apply IP rights if not in their national interest.Furthermore, groups worried about this meeting note that the event is sponsored by private groups who have strong interests in greater IP enforcement, rather than the interests of what's best for various African nations. Among the sponsors is the International Chamber of Commerce's Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP). From that, it's pretty clear that the entire meeting's goals are suspect.
If there's going to be an effort by the international community to explore IP issues in Africa, the least they could do is acknowledge the fact that IP laws are supposed to be about what's best for the people, not what's best for big international corporations who want to maximize profit from African markets. But thanks to US involvement, that doesn't seem possible.