"Member governments of the World Intellectual Property Organization yesterday approved all but one application for international nongovernmental observer status at the UN agency: Pirate Parties International". William New from IP-Watch brought this to the public's attention yesterday in his piece entitled, "Delay Of Pirate Parties’ WIPO Observer Status Raises Questions.
This is indeed bound to raise many questions. There are currently about 250 members accredited with Observer status and a look at the eligibility requirements for the international NGO status that they were applying for, shows that it is very basic and no doubt, PPI did not fail to submit this basic information.
The decision on the granting of Observer status to PPI was deferred with little discussion, except that they wanted to first decide whether they would allow political parties to be granted observer status. PPI, while supporting Pirate parties world wide, and having members from these political parties, is itself a supporter but not a political party. Unsurprisingly, US was one of the member states which pushed for this decision, along with Switzerland and France. Reportedly, Sweden and Germany, who have public elected officials who are members of the party, were more reluctant to deny them. Meanwhile, WIPO's site states "WIPO welcomes the inclusion of stakeholder organizations and interest groups as observers at the formal meetings of Member States. WIPO also seeks to involve NGOs, IGOs, industry groups and all other stakeholders as widely as possible in consultation processes and debates about current issues."
A reading of Amelia Andersdotter, a member of the European Parliament's, well written piece, as well as William New's post mentioned above, and PPI's own official statement , all show that the dominant voices in WIPO are unwilling to allow a strongly critical party to even observe their proceedings. While PPI is certainly not the only critical organization that has applied for Observer status, it certainly is one of the only ones with a strong and growing voice in policy areas around the world, due to their members being parts of political offices - and this is a voice that 'pro strengthening IP' states do not like. Without taking a stance on their particular views, they certainly are gaining more and more support, amongst informed citizenry as well as political parties. What reason could you have for not wanting them to be in the loop?
No doubt, this 'power' is responsible for WIPO's unwillingness to engage with them - but this pretty much shows their whole attitude towards this 'business'. While certain states are supposedly ready to start wars in other parts of the world in the name of democracy, instead of engaging in cooperative or even just being open to constructive criticism themselves, they are trying to stay away from discussion and dialogue that they don't like, as well as keep at bay, best they can, the means of upward mobility for these dissident voices. The voices that are focusing on Innovation instead of IPR. One may argue that WIPO, which stands for World Intellectual Property Organization, should continue to focus on IPR... but that would be akin to focusing on improving a proxy mechanism regardless of cost to the goal for which the proxy exists, instead of improving ways of reaching the goal that the proxy was started for. An increasingly stronger case develops for looking beyond IP internalism.