Letter to WIPO on stolen EFF documents
Let me try to convey to you the depth of the weirdness that arose when all the public-interest groups' papers were stolen and trashed at WIPO. No one gets into the WIPO building without being accredited and checked over, so this was almost certainly someone who was working on the treaty -- in other words, a political opponent (none of the documents promoting the Broadcast Treaty were touched).
As the Indian delegation put it, WIPO is an organization based on information. For someone who believes in an information-protection instrument like the Broadcast Treaty to sabotage the negotiation by hiding information from the delegates is bizarre. The people who run the table were shocked silly -- this has apparently never happened before at WIPO.
We ended up posting a guard over the table -- thanks to Rufus Pollock from the Campaign for Digital Rights for yeoman duty! -- and rescuing our papers from the trash and from reserve stashes. Unfortuately, we couldn't make any more copies because the UN Secretariat -- who administers logistics -- has announced that as of this meeting, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can no longer have their materials photocopied by WIPO. Getting copies made means going all the way back into town. This new rule, combined wiht a new procedure that radically cut down on the floor time afforded to NGOs meant that we were largely silenced by the saboteurs. Lucky for us, the delegates from Brazil and India demanded that the Secretariat and Chair take pains to protect our documents and yeild the floor to us.
Times like this, I remember a Gandhi quote that I heard from EFF-founder John Gilmore: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
18 November 2004
Mrs. Rita Hayes, WIPO Deputy-Director General
Dear Mrs. Hayes:
We welcome WIPO's recent efforts at greater transparency and
support for civil society participation at these important
meetings. It is therefore with regret that we have to inform you
of difficulties we have experienced during this 12th Session of
the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights. We write
to you to request your assistance to avoid a repetition of these
Both yesterday and again today, written statements provided by IP
Justice and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which were placed
on the table designated for floor papers, were stolen within
minutes of being deposited on the table. Additionally yesterday
documents provided by the Union for the Public Domain were also
missing shortly after being placed on the table.
This morning, many of these documents were recovered from the
trash can in the first floor men's restroom. Another set of IP
Justice statements as well as copies of the alternative NGO
Proposal for a Broadcasting Treaty were recovered from behind a
desk on the ground floor. These documents provided by IP
Justice, EFF, and the Union for the Public Domain were critical
of the Broadcasting Treaty. The papers drafted by the
broadcasting industry, urging the treaty's adoption, however,
remain undisturbed on the table for floor papers.
Delegates' receipt of written statements provided by civil
society are doubly crucial because of the limited time that has
been allocated for interventions for civil society during this
meeting. The briefing papers' disappearance causes us particular
difficulty given WIPO's new procedure to no longer photo-copy NGO
floor papers for the delegates. In order for us to get
replacements, we would have to get on a bus and travel back into
town to make more copies for the delegates, who have invited us
to submit advice on these issues.
Currently, we have placed a representative from civil society
near the table for floor papers to "guard" these written
statements. But clearly this in not an acceptable situation for
NGOs or WIPO. We request that you take adequate and effective
measures to protect the materials placed on the floor paper
table, regardless of the views expressed in those statements.
Thank you for your attention to these matters.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Union for the Public Domain
cc: US Delegation, SCCR Chair