Civil society organisations urge WIPO Member States to admit Wikimedia as an observer

Today, 55 civil society organizations, including COMMUNIA, sent a letter to the Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization to express their concerns with regard to the outcome of the sixty-second series of meetings of the Assemblies of the Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization, not to admit the Wikimedia Foundation as an observer to that organization.

The signatories of the letter recall that the WIPO discussions, where norm setting in copyright is concerned, are of utmost important to access to knowledge organisations:

“Given the key role of WIPO in shaping normative and practical work around copyright that impacts how researchers, educators and the public at large access and use knowledge, not admitting the Foundation as an observer would be unacceptable and it would run counter with the established practice on criteria for admission of observers at WIPO.”

This is the second time the application of the Wikimedia Foundation for observer status at WIPO was not approved. China was again the only country to reject the Foundation’s application, suggesting that the Wikimedia Foundation was spreading misinformation via the Wikimedia Taiwan chapter. The United States expressed their support for the Foundation’s application, calling for a transparent process, accessible for civil society organizations. The regional coordinator for Group B (the group of industrialized countries at WIPO, which includes many European Union member states) followed suit, underlining that the Foundation’ application had complied with the admission criteria.

According to Amanda Keton, General Counsel of the Wikimedia Foundation, “the Wikimedia Foundation’s absence from these meetings deprives our communities of an opportunity to participate in this process”. The Foundation said it will reapply for official observer status in 2022. We hope that by then WIPO Member States will have done everything in their power to facilitate admission of the Foundation, so that Wikimedia can start participating in the discussions of this UN agency without any further delays.

Etching of a printer's press by Abraham Bosse.
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