WIPO Boss Reappointed Until 2020, Despite Bogus Legal Threat Against Blogger

from the wipo-credibility-gone dept

WIPO boss Francis Gurry’s leadership has been full of some really questionable controversies, including potentially violating UN sanctions by sending computers to North Korea and Iran, as well as having people break into the offices of some of his own employees to secretly collect DNA samples. Still, to me, perhaps most troubling was his attempt last month to stifle public debate and commentary about the DNA controversy by sending an intimidating letter to blogger Gene Quinn, threatening him with the possibility of criminal prosecution in Switzerland, for merely publishing a “report of misconduct” filed about Gurry by one of his deputies, James Pooley.

Given all the controversy — some of it quite serious — it seems reasonable to question if Gurry is the right person to continue to lead WIPO. Apparently, the member states that control WIPO don’t have a problem with it, because they’ve now reappointed Gurry, giving him a second six-year term.

As for his focus? It appears to be to continue pushing a maximalist position. While it should be noted that WIPO has actually become marginally less maximalist in the past few years, thanks to the influence of developing nations like India and Brazil, it’s still an organization that focuses on maximizing intellectual property, rather than maximizing what’s actually best for the public. That’s clear from Gurry’s “acceptance” speech.

Turning to the future, I believe that the fundamental challenge that we face as an Organization is to achieve a shared understanding of the contribution and value of intellectual property to economic, social and cultural development.

Notice that it’s not about determining whether or not it’s actually true that “intellectual property” creates such value — it’s just assumed as fact.

And, indeed, he also highlighted areas where WIPO has been working on dangerous new forms of “intellectual property” protections — where absolutely none is needed: broadcast rights and traditional knowledge.

In concrete terms, for example, the Organization must achieve successful outcomes both on broadcasting and on traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources. If we are unable to address the latest technological developments, the Organization will fail in its main mission of encouraging innovation and will become irrelevant to the mainstream of global innovation. If we are unable to address traditional knowledge systems, the Organization will fail in its mission of universality and will not recognize the full scope of intellectual contributions to innovation.

This is ridiculous and dangerous. Locking up traditional knowledge doesn’t help “recognize the full scope of intellectual contributions to innovation” — it just makes it more difficult for continued innovation. Protectionism where none has been needed slows down progress, rather than advances it.

As the old saying goes, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The problem here is that WIPO seems to view every bit of knowledge, content and transmission as a rogue form of “property” that needs to be locked up and put behind a tollbooth. And rather than looking into how dangerous an assumption that is, Gurry is busy threatening bloggers for reporting about his own questionable behavior.

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Comments on “WIPO Boss Reappointed Until 2020, Despite Bogus Legal Threat Against Blogger”

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Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s not just folklore. It’s a country’s entire culture and sub-culture. It’d be like giving the US the right to sue other countries for misappropriating jazz, baseball, and cheerleaders. It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.

How are we harmed if some school in Nigeria wants to have a cheerleading squad? Vice versa, how is Nigeria harmed if my kids wears a Bini mask for Halloween?

Here’s my thinking. The WIPO wants to force third world countries into accepting our IP laws. What advantage does that give those poorer countries? Nothing really. It just forces them to pay more and be sued for not paying. No advantage at all.

However, what if the WIPO promised those countries cultural rights? Basically promising they could sue other nations or corporations for cultural appropriation. So if someone opens a chain of Bombay Bistros in the US, India could sue to stop it or for profits.

It’s a win/win for everyone but citizens. The IP maximalists get their view of the world imposed everywhere. And the poorer countries get to sell this to their people by saying they’re protecting their cultures from western decadence, along with a tidy profit.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re:

c’mon kamper, wise up: he is being kept on BECAUSE he does the bidding of The They ™, it IS really that simple…
it don’t matter he eats babies for breakfast, he toes the line, he gets rewarded by Empire…

STOP thinking we live in some sort of meritocracy; STOP depending upon a corrupt (in)justice system as a last resort; STOP believing that ‘our superiors’ are weally, Weally, WEALLY working on behalf of us 99%, EVER; STOP hoping they will –someday– ‘see the light’ and stop fucking us over, that is childish thinking, STOP IT…

IT IS UP TO US TO TAKE OUR DEMOCRACY BACK, The They ™ are NOT going to give it up voluntarily…

Anonymous Coward says:

Perfect Example!

This is why ANY country that signs up for the ICC is dumber than a bunch of farking rocks! Could he be tried by the ICC at this moment… NO, but that slope will damn sure get slippery enough and damn fast enough when someone Important Enough needs it too!

What could happen to this guy if this turd were to be able to get him either extradited to Switzerland or indicted by the ICC itself?

Anonymous Coward says:

On the Director General’s re-election: SHAMEFUL SHAMEFUL SHAMEFUL!!!!!!

So developing countries are willing to support someone who in essense is someone who ‘dislikes’ them with a passion and only uses promises of ‘jobs’ and assistance to get their support. Shameful!!!! Africa should be most embarassed as it looks like their willing to bend over for very little. As for Asia, they are willing to support such a person believing that Australia is the Tiger in the region, the superpower that will validate all their ambitions. That the DG was never a supporter of the US was wellknown and only ‘engaged’ a few US citizens for show, including local US State Department representative to feed his misbehaviour. Then there are the ‘bigger’ Latin Americans and Caribbean that have personal interests in having such a person at the helm of the organization, while East Europeans are driven by power and finally a place at the main table! What about the Arab world – after the multitudes of Spring uprisings they have all gone silent. sad!!!! That leaves Russia and China? Go figure, from the DG they will get their Local WIPO offices and will eventually get access to documentation that -should they get in the wrong hands, could mean a huge industrious boom for their industry! You can’t question their motives. – So go ahead WIPO and your member states: play the double standard game. You have all shown how low you can all get by backing clear criminal behaviour! It’s just a pity much of what is going on is not in the mainstream media. A sad day for humanity, innovation and creativity.

Anonymous Coward says:

WIPO’s could not have done all the alleged ‘corrupt’ behaviour alone. He would have needed soldiers to jump when ordered to and the first in line would be the those responsible for Human resources, procurement and just plain members of his cabinet. If there is an investigation, it would have to go deep and the investigators would have to read every single case submitted to the internal appeal board, to get an extent of the alleged corruption at WIPO. One would also have to look at contracts for outsourced projects, who was employed, and even identify many of those employed since 2008. …a very detailed investigation has to be carried out and it also includes interviewing many people and many outside the i ner sanctum of the director general. There are a lot of yes men and women at WIPO , I am sure otherwise the Boss could never have gotten away with so much. Good luck to the investigators!!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

“And rather than looking into how dangerous an assumption that is, Gurry is busy threatening bloggers for reporting about his own questionable behavior.”

Sounds like exactly the right man for the job.

Dishonest, obedient to power, greedy, self-interested, unthinking, short-sighted, anti-intellectual, willing to do whatever it takes to get the silver he’s been offered…. hell, he probably eats live puppies too.

Its not easy finding a man who is so evil he will work for the Legacy Industries to purposely destroy the future of mankind in favor of continued profits now.

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