WIPO Negotiations Over Changes To Copyright For Those With Disabilities Once Again Shrouded In Secrecy
from the shameful dept
We’ve talked about the latest efforts concerning a treaty for the blind and others with disabilities, which will carve out some rules to give them slightly more rights to ignore certain copyrights in order to allow them to access some works. The negotiations have been going on for years (decades, depending on who you talk to) and the copyright maximalists absolutely hate the idea. They see it as opening the barn door for others to rush through asking for copyright law to be scaled back for them as well. There have been numerous stall tactics used and, of course, lots and lots of secrecy.
Once again, secrecy seems to be the way business is being done, as Jamie Love explains how everyone had been barred from using social media to inform the public what’s going on.
Today after a short plenary session, the informal negotiations were scheduled to begin behind closed doors again. But WIPO decided to permit NGOs attending the negotiations to follow a live audio of the discussions, subject to a ban on the use of the Internet and related social media to report on the negotiations.
The ban specifically singled out “twitter, blogs, news reports, and email lists” and extends to social media in general.
Love argued that Chatham House rules could be effective (in which you can talk about what was said, just not who said it). But, of course, the US said that was unacceptable. Because, of course, the US doesn’t want anyone to know about its crazy arguments, even if they’re not attached to the US itself.
But, really, the bigger problem is the threat of retaliation under this system for reporting on info discovered through other means. Love explains the problem:
I assume we will be permitted to report and comment in other ways that do not rely upon this audio feed, but people will be careful because there is now a threat to cut off that access if the the forbidden information starts showing up on the Internet, and it maybe difficult to persuade people that the audio feed was not the source. This means less information will be disseminated, including the reports from the relatively accessible negotiators, of which there are many who are willing to talk in the breaks. These bans on the use of social media are increasingly being sought by transparency averse negotiators, particularly when pursuing anti-consumer and anti-freedom policies.
It is simply unacceptable these days to hold such negotiations in complete secrecy. It is for reasons like this that people don’t trust such organizations and think they’re corrupt. Even if they’re not corrupt and totally aboveboard, just doing these kinds of things in secret stirs up distrust for the government.