first report on WIPO conference

Subject: first report on WIPO conference
From: Barbara Schleihagen ( )
Date: to 12 joulu  1996 - 19:18:48 EET

First report from WIPO conference in Geneva,

by Frode Bakken, EBLIDA observer and president of the Norwegian library

EBLIDA is represented during the WIPO Diplomatic Conference in Geneva by
Emanuella Giavarra, ECUP project director and copyright adviser to EBLIDA
and myself. In total we cover nearly the whole conference period (2-20
December 1996). 115 nations are represented. The European Communities
(represented by DG XV) have a special delegation. In addition there are a
few intergovernmental organisations like UNESCO, WTO and ILO. Those
mentioned above are the government representatives. These delegations are
allowed to speak in plenum and make written proposals.

In addition there are 70 NGOs (non-governmental organisations) doing
lobbying work in the interest of their members and member organisations. In
this group of NGOs we find EBLIDA, IFLA and FID.

EBLIDA is, as already mentioned, represented by Emanuella Giavarra (lawyer)
and Frode Bakken (librarian) from Norway. IFLA is represented by Sandy
Norman (librarian), UK, Jamie Wodetzky (lawyer), Australia and Adam Eisgrau
(lawyer), USA. Adam Eisgrau, who is employed by the American library
association is also representing Educator's ad hoc commmittee on copyright
law. Eisgrau is one of the main forces in the US Digital Future Coalition.
FID is represented by Thomas Vinje who is a lawyer in an US law company
based in Brussels. He has been working a lot for initiating coalition
activities in Europe and the US against many of the WIPO proposals. One of
the results of all the activities prior to the conference is that not only
librarians, educational and research companies all over the world have
raised their concern about some of the WIPO proposals but also important
companies and organisations in telecommunication, traditional computer
industry and the emerging internet industry. Some of these voices are very
strong also in respect of putting pressure on powerful delegations like the
US government and the European Community. In addition to the library related
people who have been mentioned, I must mention that inside the official US
delegation is also an important official advisor, James Neal, who is
representing the American library association. He is very active both in ALA
and in IFLA.

The first days of the conference were spent on procedural matters. The
conference got down to substance after a compromise was found with Kenya
elected to the be chair for the whole conference and Jukka Liedes, head of
the Finnish delegation and author of the final WIPO proposals being elected
as chairman for the important "main committee 1". Main committee 1 is
discussing all important substantial questions. In the formal procedures it
is also possible for all NGOs to raise their voices in plenum meetings - but
only if the chairman decides so. And it was decided early that NGOs will not
be allowed to speak in plenum during the whole conference. So all proposals
from NGOs must be presented through lobbying national delegations (or the EC).

Library interests at the conference are in my opinion well represented and
with good balance between general library competence and legal competence
which is of utmost importance. Without legal competence in advocating
library positions in this WIPO environment, libraries are very week.
Copyright is in general complicated and is getting more complicated in the
digital era.

This is a short general introduction to the WIPO conference. I will come
back to what is going on tomorrow. Daily reports from the conference are
produced by Seth Greenstein from the US Home recording rights coalition.
They can be found at

Frode Bakken

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