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February 23, 2006

Shutting down anti-IP speechifying

 
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Well, we've just had some more fun.

The radical, left-wing, anti-IP groups here use WIPO as a platform to rant against IP and related issues. They use their opportunities to speak as a chance to complain about DRM, to complain that the public domain is under threat, to say that a "reprivatization of the public domain" is under way, to pontificate about all the glories of free software and how it was free software that invented sliced bread and electricity, and how it was free software that taught us how to make fire and how to take care of public sanitation and cure rabies, etc.

If you ever wondered how many times someone can say the phrase "free software" in about 7 minutes, I've just seen the world record performance.

One group just kept going on-and-on about the "so-called IP system." He used the phrase at least a half dozen times. Now, if you don't recall, this is at the World Intellectual Property Organization. If it is a "so-called IP system," then this entire organization is illegitimate. How long do you think a Chairman is going to put up with that? (he was gavelled twice)

This afternoon, the Chairman was having none of it. Several of the radical anti-IP groups were gavelled, and the Chairman insisted that they speak to the point or submit their comments in writing. A couple of the really stubborn groups that didn't get the message were actually gavelled twice.

At my count, 4 or 5 radical NGOs were silenced.

So, obviously, I'm grinning ear-to-ear. It is such a delight to see these groups gavelled silent in mid-screed. It would be different if they actually had anything interesting or empirical to say. But it's always just the same old stuff. Free software saves the world, drug patents kill people, the public domain is being reprivatized by DRM, etc.

By the way, the flavor of the month is the that TPMs (DRM, etc.) threaten the public domain.

Notice that they aren't necessarily talking about DRM in the way that it is going to be implemented. They are criticizing DRM for a way in which it will almost certainly NOT be implemented. Can someone please explain to me what the business case is for putting DRM on public domain stuff? Seriously. If I'm missing something, I'd like to be appraised of it.

Update: Well, now the Chairman has apologized for cutting off NGOs. I suppose he wanted to go on record for being kind, but his gavel was entirely appropriate in my opinion. Putting an end to irrelevant speechifying by ideologues was a useful thing to do.

Yes, I'm an ideologue too. But I've almost always tried to keep my comments as short as possible, and at least somewhat related to the issue under discussion.

WIPO is not an organization for NGOs. It is for the member states, and it is only kindness on WIPO's part that NGOs are allowed to participate in any way. NGOs should be appropriately humble and cooperative, and only intervene when they actually have something relevant to say.


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