WIPO Blocks Wikimedia Chapters As Observers, Because China Is Mad That There’s A Taiwanese Wikimedia Chapter

from the ridiculous dept

Two years ago we wrote about how the Wikimedia Foundation was blocked from gaining observer status at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) after China objected, over some bizarre nonsense because there happens to be a volunteer-led Wikimedia Taiwan chapter. Obviously, it makes sense for Wikimedia to have observer status at WIPO, as excessive copyright can do serious harm to Wikimedia and its ability to share knowledge. Even though local chapters are independent of the larger foundation, China apparently has to punish anyone who even hints at the fact that Taiwan is, and has been, an independent country.

A single objection is not supposed to be enough to block entrance as an observer to WIPO, but the organization has a history of favoring some and blocking others based on silly reasons. For example, a few years back it rejected the Pirate Party’s application to be an observer, but did allow a group whose mission included freeing us from space lizards’ control. Really.

In 2021, China once again objected to Wikimedia Foundation’s application, and once again, the sniveling, spineless WIPO leaders agreed and refused to admit the organization.

This year, rather than try again with the Wikimedia Foundation, since WIPO has made it clear that it will not be allowed in thanks to a single “no” vote from one country, six separate independent local chapters decided to apply instead. The local chapters from France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, and Switzerland each separately applied for observer status.

And, China complained about each one, so of course, WIPO rejected all six applications.

China was the only country to oppose the accreditation of the Wikimedia chapters, inaccurately claiming that chapters were complicit in spreading disinformation. These allegations are unfounded and misrepresent Wikipedia’s model, which prioritizes neutrality and requires citations to reliable secondary sources in its content.

This is not how any of this is supposed to work:

China’s objection is unprecedented in WIPO committee discussions and contradicts WIPO Rules of Procedure. One country generally cannot veto participation of civil society groups in WIPO committees.

Unless that country is China, apparently, and unless you have WIPO willing to bend over backwards to keep China happy.

As Wikimedia notes, this is all absolutely ridiculous:

The Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is composed of WIPO country representatives, non-governmental organizations, and private companies, which offer expertise in helping the specialized UN agency realize its global mandate. With this rejection, the Wikimedia chapters will be prevented from participating in international discussions on copyright that profoundly affect their work in Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. 

This should be a scandal. But, as WIPO has learned it can basically do whatever it wants without ever getting into trouble for it. After all, WIPO ignored sanctions against North Korea and Iran to give them computers, because those countries pinky promised the computers would be used for a patent system rather than for making nuclear weapons. Then there was the time that WIPO threatened a blogger with criminal charges for his reporting on scandals at WIPO. Or the time that the then WIPO boss was accused of surreptitiously collecting DNA samples from employees.

So, I guess to WIPO, denying the Wikimedia Foundation and various independent local chapters observer status, where they might actually be able to add some valuable insight to WIPO, is really no big deal. Just as long as they keep China happy.

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Companies: wikimedia foundation

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Comments on “WIPO Blocks Wikimedia Chapters As Observers, Because China Is Mad That There’s A Taiwanese Wikimedia Chapter”

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Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Just read the name

As Cory Doctorow has said, just the name “Intellectual Property” is making an argument, because “people who have their property stolen” are more sympathetic to people around the world than “corporations who had their government-granted monopolies infringed upon” (granted IP also applies to people such as copyrights, including some that I hold, but that’s another story).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What's in a name?

There’s an even bigger difference between physical property and intellectual “property”, at least in my view. My physical property has very limited impact on your behaviour. Sure, parking my car across your driveway may prevent you from driving your car out and my house prevents you wandering across the land it is built on, but such impacts are rare or minor and strictly local in effect.

“IP” on the other hand is a permanent (until it expires), common and global in scope. It has more in common with slavery than it does with physical property.

Anonymous Coward says:

WIPO ignored sanctions against North Korea and Iran to give them computers, because those countries pinky promised the computers would be used for a patent system

Intellectual property organizations operate on the same mental level as Pavlov’s dogs. Unfortunately when it comes to dogs, people are generally more forgiving than they should be.

Bernd Paysan says:

Just rename it to “Wikimedia Taipeh”

This should work. It works with Taiwan’s, er, Taipeh’s consulates, too. There is no point for an organization with the power of Wikimedia to try to win World War III, you just won’t. So stop even trying. Anyways, it’s not a neutral point of view, so it is in conflict with Wikimedia’s own rules. The Taiwan conflict is not resolved. You can have an opinion about it, but keep it private.

Anonymous Coward says:

another example where it is helpful to the public, among others to have Wikimedia attend, so China objecting is exactly what is needed so it CANT help the public etc. i’m only surprised the USA entertainment industries haven’t lodged any complaint as well. they dont want any organisation to have the ability to assist the public, wanting to take complete charge of the Internet as a whole

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