United Nations / WIPO

Written submission on the project on open collaborative projects, contained in document CDIP/6/6

Author:  on:

Committee on Development and Intellectual Property: Sixth Session, Geneva, November 22, 2010 to November 26, 2010.

Summary: FSFE welcomes the orientation WIPO is taking towards the study of open and collaborative models but notes that the list of projects to be studied is incomplete for it doesn't include Free Software nor projects like Creative Commons or Wikipedia which have the longer experience in the field of collaborative project.The inclusion of such projects is necessary to have a good level of insight in the topic.

Written submission by Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE)

We highly welcome the proposal for a project on open collaborative projects, contained in document CDIP/6/6. We believe that WIPO will in future have an important role in this area, among other things in advising member states on how obtain the maximum benefits for their citizens and companies from such models.

We appreciate that the project is proposed to be structured as an interactive platform, and hope that it will be open for contributions from all stakeholders. However, the selection of collaborative project to be studied in depth strikes us as odd. We are deeply surprised not to find Free Software (also known as open source) or any Free Software projects among the the collaborative projects to be investigated.

Free Software predates most of the projects listed in the proposal for detailed investigation by a full two decades. Rather than being structured around a single company or entity, it has grown into a large and complex ecosystem with numerous different methods for collaboration, and is at the cutting edge of the latest developments in copyright and patent law, as well as in standardisation. Bringing together both global corporations and individual developers on hugely complicated technical projects, with the GNU/Linux operating system alone poised to underpin a 50 billion USD economy in 2011, Free Software is likely the most mature example of an open collaborative project that is currently available to us. At the same time, it is exceedingly well researched, and huge amounts of data are publicly available.

Similar considerations apply for other projects, such as the Creative Commons model for copyright licensing and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

We are therefore of the view that a project like the project like the one proposed in document CDIP/6/6 would be highly incomplete if it did not take these world-renowned examples of collaborative projects into consideration. Unless it does so, this project will not deliver the level of insight which member states rightly hope to reap from their investment in this project.