Subject: Re: [WSIS CS-Plenary] WSISPapers Newsletter No.4 - Patents and copyright in computer programs
From: Taran Rampersad <cnd@knowprose.com>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 18:34:30 -0500

Contextual.

WSIS Papers wrote:

>-------------------------------------------------------
>  WSIS Papers Newsletter - January 2005 No.4
>-------------------------------------------------------
>
>In this issue: SOFTWARE: PATENTS AND COPYRIGHTS
>
>Content:
>
>  - Software patents and copyright: Background information
>  - The debate in Europe
>  - Alternatives to traditional copyright
>  - Non-profit organizations involved
>  - The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
>  - The World Trade Organization (WTO)
>  - Other UN agencies
>  - WSIS-related information
>
>Available online at:
>
>      http://wsispapers.choike.org/
>
>-------------------------------------------------------
>
>Copyright laws are designed to protect the expression of content, as opposed
>to content itself. Protected works can express ideas, knowledge or methods
>that can be used freely; what copyright laws prohibit is the partial or full
>reproduction of such works -whether modified or not- without consent. In
>opposition to the copyright model stands the patent system, which grants
>monopoly rights over an invention (for a period of approximately 20 years,
>depending on the country). Patent owners decide who can use their inventions
>and set a price on that use.
>
>Although advocates of the patent system claim that patents promote
>innovation by making the invention known to the public, voices are
>increasingly being raised against this system, since only large corporations
>can afford the costs involved in patent maintenance (including the legal
>costs of court proceedings to prevent patent violation). Moreover,
>historically, patents have been used to prevent the development of what
>might be seen as potential competitors of established technologies owned by
>dominant companies in a given sector.
>
>The debate over software patentability and its impact on technological
>innovation is not new. In the year 1994, the Uruguay GATT Round closed with
>the inclusion of an agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual
>property rights (TRIPS). Most industrialized countries (in particular, the
>United States and Japan) played an instrumental role in the adoption of this
>agreement, which must be compulsorily enforced by all member countries of
>the World Trade Organization (WTO) (73% of which are developing countries).
>In particular, article 27.1 of the TRIPS agreement has been construed as a
>legal means to justify the patentability of a range of innovations,
>including computer programs. The fact that many observers call for a full
>revision of this agreement does not deter large software corporations from
>joining influential groups of lawyers specializing in intellectual property
>or lobbying some governments to advocate in favour of software regulation in
>international forums, such as the WTO, or to push patent offices to adopt
>measures in this direction. These offices are not financed by public funds.
>On the contrary, they derive a substantial part of their income from patent
>maintenance costs, a considerable percentage of which comes from a few large
>corporations.
>
>In addition, the process of granting software patents has lacked
>transparency. In Europe, for instance, even though patent issues were
>regulated by the Munich Patent Convention, which established the European
>Patent Office (EPO) and expressly prohibited software patenting, thousands
>of computer program-related patents have been granted by that same office.
>This brings into play issues such as what innovations may be considered
>industrially applicable, definitions that can vary from country to country,
>and can depend even on linguistic and terminological considerations.
>
>In 2002 the European Commission submitted a proposal for a Directive "on the
>patentability of computer-implemented inventions" which would legalize
>software patents in Europe. Civil society organizations joined forces to
>voice their opposition against this initiative, which would have implemented
>in Europe a system similar to the one in force in the United States and
>Japan. On 24 September 2003, the European Parliament voted to incorporate a
>set of amendments into the Directive, reaffirming the non-patentability of
>programming and business logic and upholding freedom of publication and
>interoperation. Still, the debate in Europe with regard to software patents
>is far from being over.
>
>Furthermore, if we take a look at how Southern countries are affected by the
>expansion of "Intellectual Property Rights" (IPR), spurred by industrialized
>countries through the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), we
>can see that far from encouraging direct investment and stimulating transfer
>of technology, an illusion of such phenomena is created through the movement
>of funds and technology to and from parent companies of multinational
>corporations and their foreign subsidiaries. The smallest companies, for
>their part, are forced to allocate a significant portion of their budgets to
>paying for licenses, thereby greatly curbing local development initiatives.
>Moreover, when arguments are wielded in favour of extending IPRs to
>scientific and educational information, which is currently in the public
>domain, the future of the least industrialized countries turns even bleaker,
>as they risk being trapped in their role of consumers of Northern-produced
>technologies.
>
>In August 2004, governments of Southern countries, led by Brazil and
>Argentina, presented a proposal for a Development Agenda at WIPO. Some of
>the proposals specially addressed the concerns of developing countries,
>while others aimed to redirect WIPO to give more weight to general consumers
>' and public interests, including patents and copyrights. On October 2004,
>the WIPO General Assembly issued a decision that creates a rapid evaluation
>of the Development Agenda. This opens an opportunity to promote changes in
>WIPO's policies. Prior to the General Assembly meeting hundreds of
>nonprofits, scientists, academics and other individuals had signed the
>"Geneva Declaration on the Future of WIPO," which calls on WIPO to focus
>more on the needs of developing countries, and to view IP as one of many
>tools for development - not as an end in itself.
>
>When ICTs are being consolidated as a means to share knowledge and
>information, limiting access to these technologies is seen by many as a
>violation of fundamental rights. The future of the flow of information and
>communication in the South largely depends on finding solutions to these
>issues, which should be at the heart of the debate around ICTs global
>governance at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
>
>---------------------------------------------------------
> Software patents and copyrights: Background information
>---------------------------------------------------------
>
>*  Software Patents: Questions, Analyses, Proposals
>What is the effect of patents on the economy in general and on software in
>particular? Why do software patents tend to be so trivial? What exactly have
>the rules of patentability in Europe been and how did they change? Under
>what constraints is the patent system moving? What are our choices? With
>this collection of articles, members and friends of the FFII workgroup on
>software patents try to give answers.
>--> http://swpat.ffii.org/analysis/index.en.html
>
>*  Software Useright: Solving Inconsistencies of Software Patents
>This paper gives an overview of the principles, the economic impact and the
>potential juridical contradictions of patents and especially software
>related patents.
>--> http://smets.com/it/policy/useright/
>
>*  Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
>Based in San Francisco, USA, EFF is a donor-supported membership
>organization working to protect fundamental rights regardless of technology;
>to educate the press, policymakers and the general public about civil
>liberties issues related to technology; and to act as a defender of those
>liberties.
>--> http://www.eff.org/IP/
>
>*  Intellectual property and computer software, a battle of competing use
>and access visions for countries of the South
>Source: IPRsonline.org
>Alan Story
>This case study produced by the UNCTAD-ICTSD Capacity Building Project on
>IPRs and Sustainable Development (May 2004) claims that "intellectual
>property protection" have erected a clear barrier to the spread of software
>across the South. It also states that free software formats might offer
>advantages for technology transfer and that they are not a mere policy
>choice for developing countries but an important alternative for building,
>maintaining and changing rules that govern information flows. PDF format.
>--> http://www.iprsonline.org/unctadictsd/docs/CS_Story.pdf
>
>*  Software patents: A really bad idea
>Source: ZDNet
>Robin Gross, IP Justice Director and former IP attorney for the Electronic
>Frontier Foundation, gives a US perspective on the dangers of the EU
>following North America's lead on software patent laws.
>--> http://insight.zdnet.co.uk/software/developer/0,39020469,39155171,00.htm
>
>*  Issues in the regulation of Intellectual Property Rights, Computer
>Software and Electronic Commerce
>Source: IPRsonline.org
>Ruth L. Okediji
>Among other conclusions, the author expresses that developing countries must
>insist on the possibility of enacting domestic limitations to WIPO and WTO
>agreements, including the application of compulsory licenses, to digital
>works. PDF format.
>--> http://www.iprsonline.org/unctadictsd/docs/CS_Okediji.pdf
>
>*  The political economy of Intellectual Property protection: The case of
>software
>Source: London School of Economics
>Kenneth Shadlen, Andrew Schrank, Marcus Kurtz
>The authors perform an analysis of new transnational factors in "IP
>enforcement": countries' multilateral obligations under the World Trade
>Organization's IPRs provisions; and bilateral pressures from the United
>States to increase the protection of IPRs. They conclude that for most
>(especially developing) countries, the benefits obtained by increasing
>copyright protection would appear to be outweighed by direct and indirect
>costs. PDF format.
>--> http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/DESTIN/pdf/WP40.pdf
>
>*  Open Source Software: Free provision of complex public goods
>Source: IPRsonline.org
>James Bessen
>The author states that in the case of complex goods as software, the FOSS
>development model can increase social welfare. PDF format.
>--> http://www.researchoninnovation.org/opensrc.pdf
>
>-------------------------------------------------------
> The debate in Europe
>-------------------------------------------------------
>
>*  Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII)
>Non-profit association registered in Munich, devoted to spreading
>data-processing literacy. FFII supports the development of public
>information goods based on copyright, free competition, and open standards.
>Considered the most comprehensive repository of information on the European
>software patent debate.
>--> http://www.ffii.org/index.en.html
>
>*  Petition for a Software Patent Free Europe
>Petition directed to the European Parliament to warn European Authorities
>against the dangers of software patents. This petition was supported by the
>EuroLinux Alliance, European companies and non-profit associations.
>--> http://www.noepatents.org/index_html?LANG=en
>
>*  EuroLinux Alliance
>The EuroLinux Alliance for a Free Information Infrastructure is an open
>coalition of commercial companies and non-profit associations united to
>promote and protect a European Software Culture based on copyright, open
>standards, open competition and open source software.
>--> http://www.eurolinux.org/index.en.html
>
>*  The File on Software Patents
>Includes information on legal, economic and social aspects of Software
>Patents.
>--> http://www.noepatents.org/reference/index.html?LANG=en
>
>*  Free Patents
>Information and news on software patents in Europe.
>--> http://www.freepatents.org/
>
>*  The Greens - European Free Alliance in the European Parliament
>Contains information concerning the latest Software Patentability
>Conferences in Europe.
>--> http://www.greens-efa.org/en/issues/?id=14
>
>*  Free Software Foundation - Europe
>The FSF Europe supports all European aspects of Free Software; especially
>the GNU Project. It also provides an assistance centre for politicians,
>lawyers and journalists in order to secure the legal, political and social
>future of Free Software.
>--> http://fsfeurope.org/
>
>-------------------------------------------------------
> Alternatives to traditional copyright
>-------------------------------------------------------
>
>*  Copyleft
>Copyleft is a general method for making a program free software and
>requiring all modified and extended versions of the program to be free
>software as well.
>--> http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/copyleft.html
>
>*  GNU General Public License
>Copyleft is a general concept; there are many ways to fill in the details.
>In the GNU Project, the specific distribution terms used are contained in
>the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL). The GNU GPL is intended to
>guarantee developer's freedom to share and change free software, to make
>sure the software is free for all its users. The GPL applies to most of the
>Free Software Foundation's software and to any other program whose authors
>commit to using it.
>--> http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html
>
>*  Creative Commons (CC)
>CC offers a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors and
>artists. Built upon the "all rights reserved" of traditional copyright CC
>has created a voluntary "some rights reserved" copyright.
>--> http://creativecommons.org/
>
>*  BSD Licence
>The BSD license was initially created in 1979 for the distribution of BSD
>system, the first free/open version of Unix. It was created by the
>University of California at Berkley.
>--> http://www.freebsd.org/copyright/license.html
>
>*  Labyrinth of Software Freedom (BSD vs GPL and social aspects of free
>licensing debate)
>Nikolai Bezroukov
>The author compares the BSDL and GPL, and claims that "each license behaves
>differently, often unpredictably for everybody including their creators, and
>each provides a different set of advantages and drawbacks, depending of the
>stage of the lifecycle of the software project".
>--> http://www.softpanorama.org/Copyright/License_classification/index.shtml
>
>*  OpenContent License (OPL)
>This document outlines the principles underlying the OpenContent (OC)
>movement and may be redistributed provided it remains unaltered. For legal
>purposes, this document is the license under which OpenContent is made
>available for use.
>--> http://www.opencontent.org/opl.shtml
>
>-------------------------------------------------------
> Non-profit organizations involved
>-------------------------------------------------------
>
>*  Free Software Foundation (FSF)
>FSF's mission is to preserve, protect and promote the freedom to use, study,
>copy, modify, and redistribute computer software, and to defend the rights
>of Free Software users.
>--> http://www.fsf.org/
>
>*  Association for Progressive Communications (APC) - Internet Rights
>Area dedicated to the Internet and ICTs for Social Justice and Development.
>Includes a section on Free and Open Source Software.
>--> http://www.apc.org/english/news/os_index.shtml
>
>* Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
>Based in San Francisco, USA, EFF is a donor-supported membership
>organization working to protect fundamental rights regardless of technology;
>to educate the press, policymakers and the general public about civil
>liberties issues related to technology; and to act as a defender of those
>liberties.
>--> http://www.eff.org/IP/
>
>*  Open Source Software Educational Society
>Large source of information about the Open Source initiative, includes links
>to the sites of the main players.
>--> http://www.softpanorama.org/index.shtml
>
>-------------------------------------------------------
> The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
>-------------------------------------------------------
>
>*  World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
>With headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, WIPO is one of the 16 specialized
>agencies of the United Nations system of organizations. It administers 23
>international treaties dealing with different aspects of intellectual
>property protection.
>--> http://www.wipo.int/
>
>*  Intellectual Property on the Internet: A Survey of Issues
>Source: WIPO
>Report that addresses the far-reaching impact that digital technologies -in
>particular, the Internet- have had on intellectual property (IP) and the
>international IP system.
>--> http://www.wipo.int/copyright/ecommerce/en/ip_survey/ip_survey.html
>
>*  WIPO Development Agenda
>Source: Choike
>In this report we include information on the Development Agenda proposal,
>the WIPO General Assembly's resolution about it and the reactions by civil
>society, scientists and other individuals around the world.
>--> http://www.choike.org/nuevo_eng/informes/2313.html
>
>-------------------------------------------------------
> The World Trade Organization (WTO)
>-------------------------------------------------------
>
>*  World Trade Organization (WTO)
>World Trade Organization (WTO)
>Source: Choike
>In line with the final accords of the Uruguay Round of the GATT (General
>Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), the World Trade Organization (WTO) began
>operating on 1 January 1995. This report provides in-depth information about
>the organization and its policies.
>--> http://www.choike.org/nuevo_eng/informes/385.html
>
>* Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs)
>Source: WTO
>TRIPs material. Includes information on Intellectual Property, news and
>official records of the activities of the TRIPs Council.
>--> http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/trips_e.htm
>
>*  Implementing TRIPs in developing countries
>Source: Third World Network
>Carlos Correa
>With the advent of the WTO TRIPs Agreement, developing country members have
>been forced to radically reform their intellectual property rights regimes.
>In the event of a future revision of the TRIPs Agreement, developing
>countries are advised to be well-prepared and fully exercise their
>bargaining powers to neutralize any attempts to further strengthen the
>current level of protection under the Agreement.
>--> http://www.twnside.org.sg/title/ment-cn.htm
>
>-------------------------------------------------------
> Other UN agencies
>-------------------------------------------------------
>
>*  UNCTAD: Open Source Software key to bridging digital divide
>Source: UNCTAD
>The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published its 228-pages
>"E-Commerce and Development Report 2003" on 20 November 2003. One of the
>messages of the report is that the use of free and open-source software
>offers many benefits to developing countries and can be "a means of bridging
>the digital divide".
>--> http://r0.unctad.org/ecommerce/docs/edr03_en/ecdr03.pdf
>
>*  UNHCHR: Intellectual property rights and human rights
>The UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights has
>issued resolution 2000/7, on human rights and intellectual property,
>stressing the need to better integrate a broad variety of interests and to
>rebalance economic and social interest.
>-->
>http://www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/0/c462b62cf8a07b13c12569700046704e?Opendocument
>
>*  UNESCO Free Software Portal
>The UNESCO Free Software Portal gives access to documents and websites which
>are references for the Free Software/Open Source Technology movement. It is
>also a gateway to resources related to Free Software.
>-->
>http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=12034&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
>
>*  UNESCO: Copyright Bulletin
>The UNESCO Copyright Bulletin aims to provide regular information on legal
>developments in the field of copyright and to contribute to the debate in
>this area. The English, French, Chinese, Russian and Spanish versions of the
>Bulletin are published as a free on-line journal.
>-->
>http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/ev.php-URL_ID=5130&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
>
>-------------------------------------------------------
> WSIS-related information
>-------------------------------------------------------
>
>*  Civil Society Declaration to the World Summit on the Information Society
>(WSIS)
>"Governments should promote the use of Free Software in schools and higher
>education and in public administration. The UN should carry out a
>fundamental review of the impact on poverty and human rights of current
>arrangements for recognition and governance of monopolised knowledge and
>information, including the work of WIPO and the functioning of the TRIPS
>agreement. Efforts should be made to ensure that limited intellectual
>monopolies stimulate innovation and reward initiative, rather than keeping
>knowledge in private hands until it is of little use to society.[...]". PDF
>format.
>-->
>http://www.wsis2005.org/wsis/documents/summit/WSIS-CS-Decl-25-2-04-en.pdf
>
>*  WSIS Civil Society Working Group on Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks
>(PCT)
>Website of the thematic Working Group (WG) dealing with PCT and related
>issues, within the framework of the World Summit on the Information Society
>(WSIS).
>--> http://www.wsis-pct.org/
>
>*  Upstairs, downstairs: A perspective of the WSIS
>Evan Leibovitch
>"From the perspective of those advocating the use of Free and Open Source
>Software (FOSS), the WSIS process certainly was not encouraging. Official
>documents barely mentioned FOSS at all, burying its mention in a bland
>paragraph about "increasing awareness" of various software models. Earlier
>drafts that had recommended supporting or encouraging FOSS were gutted due
>to pressure from proprietary software defenders such as the International
>Chamber of Commerce (ICC)." Linux World
>--> http://www.linuxworld.com/story/39197.htm
>
>*  Infopaper for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)
>World-Information.Org has produced an infopaper on "Intellectual Property"
>issues largely absent from the WSIS agenda. The paper features 18 authors
>who discuss different aspects of the IP with regard to their ambivalent role
>in the building of a just information order: How can the information commons
>be preserved in view of advancing IP regimes that benefit large corporations
>and lock the former third world into a state of underdevelopment? How can
>open access systems contribute to an open science environment and to free
>cultural production? Why are software patents problematic?
>--> http://world-information.org/wio/readme/992021819/1071762533
>
>-------------------------------------------------------
> Related Choike's in-depth reports
>-------------------------------------------------------
>
>* World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)
>--> http://www.choike.org/nuevo_eng/informes/703.html
>
>* The right to communicate
>--> http://www.choike.org/nuevo_eng/informes/1215.html
>
>* GATS - Trade in Services
>--> http://www.choike.org/nuevo_eng/informes/1169.html
>
>* World Trade Organization - WTO
>--> http://www.choike.org/nuevo_eng/informes/385.html
>
>* Patents and medicines
>--> http://www.choike.org/nuevo_eng/informes/72.html
>
>-------------------------------------------------------
>- "WSIS Papers" and "Choike" are projects of the
>Instituto del Tercer Mundo (ITeM) -  Third World Institute
>
>- "WSIS Papers" is supported by the
>International Development Research Centre (IDRC) / PanAmericas
>-------------------------------------------------------
>
>_______________________________________________
>Plenary mailing list
>Plenary@wsis-cs.org
>http://mailman.greennet.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/plenary
>
>  
>


-- 
Taran Rampersad

cnd@knowprose.com

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