Update on the intellectual property language in the UNESCO treaty

Submitted by Sasha Costanza-Chock on August 2, 2005.Copyright/Fair Use | English

Sasha Costanza-Chock

This is a short update on the intellectual property language in the UNESCO draft convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions (more commonly known as the Convention on Cultural Diversity).

Thanks to all of you who signed on to the statements of the Communication Rights campaign regarding the draft UNESCO convention. There were over 100 NGO signatures from all over the world, including several with UNESCO consultative status 'A,' which gave the statement - translated into all the major diplomatic languages - a good deal of weight.

We should be quite encouraged that, while previous drafts of the Convention mentioned the need to protect or even strengthen the existing intellectual property regime (and, of course, fight 'piracy') more than 16 times, the most recent (unofficial) draft of the text only makes one reference to intellectual property rights - and that comes in the preamble, rather than in the substantive body of the text.

We should definitely consider this a victory, and one that we made a real contribution to - the Brazilian delegation, which has been the best and most vocal in opposing the horribly unbalanced IP language in earlier drafts, thanked us repeatedly for putting forward a strong civil society position on this issue.

We should press the point home, though, by insisting that the single remaining reference to IPR, article 17 of the Preamble, which reads

"17. Recognizing the importance of intellectual property rights in sustaining those involved in cultural creativity."

still lacks balance between the need to reward creators with the need to protect access to knowledge, the public domain, and the cultural commons, in accordance with Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

regarding our other demands (especially relation to other treaties), another email will follow in the next weeks with more analysis.

sasha costanza-chock