The Geneva Declaration is an impressive step towards the creation of a broad coalition of people, organisations and countries1 demanding that the international community re-think the goals and mechanisms for awarding monopoly control over different kinds of knowledge. It offers many constructive, concrete suggestions for changes in WIPO goals, policies and priorities, and provides ample and insightful arguments for redesign of the copyright and patent bargains to better serve the public interest of all of humankind.
We are convinced that new answers sometimes require new questions, not more careful repetition of old questions. A World Intellectual Property Organisation will always, understandably, lean towards applying the pre-selected tool-set of monopolisation that it refers to as Intellectual Property; a term that we find to be ideologically charged and dangerously oblivious to the significant differences that exist between the many areas of law that it tries to subsume.
While it may look at better, possibly more socially sustainable ways of granting ownership-like monopolies over different forms of knowledge, WIPO will not have an easy time looking for alternative solutions. WIPO is not what we need.
We need a World Intellectual Wealth Organisation, dedicated to the research and promotion of novel and imaginative ways to encourage the production and dissemination of knowledge. Granting limited monopolies and limited control over some kinds of knowledge may be part of this new organisation's tool-set, but not the only one, and maybe not even the most important one.
We endorse and support the Geneva Declaration, and invite its drafters, signatories, and the United Nations to start thinking now not only about what the role of WIPO should be, but rather what kind of organisation we need in its place.
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