UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Copyright Committee – 14th Session

Accessibility 4 All by Claude AlmansiThe 14th Session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Copyright Committee will take place from June 7 to June 9 in Paris. Two of  the available working documents for that meeting give further information on UNESCO’s “anti-piracy” policy (already discussed in UNESCO, World Anti-Piracy Observatory and YouTube on this blog):

UNESCO World Anti-Piracy Observatory IGC(1971)/XIV/5B

WAPO covers 52% of UNESCO member countries

UNESCO World Anti-Piracy Observatory IGC(1971)/XIV/5B  (available in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic), apart from the information already made available by UNESCO on the World Anti-Piracy Observatory (WAPO) site and in the French Wikipedia article about it, reveals that only 52% of the UNESCO member countries answered the survey on which WAPO bases the information concerning national copyright laws and “anti-piracy” measures.

Some UNESCO “electoral colleges” (regions) are particularly under-represented in WAPO: Asia and the Pacific, where only 34% of the countries answered the survey  and Latin America and the Caribbean, where only 39% of the countries answered. The fact that China is not represented in WAPO  is particularly puzzling, considering that it was one of the 18 members of the Intergovernmental Copyright Committee during its 13th session (2005) where the creation of WAPO was decided, and that, according to the final report of that 13th session , China had supported the principles embodied in WAPO:

The delegate of China informed the Committee of the measures taken by her country to fight against piracy. She pointed out the serious negative effect of piracy on her country’s sustainable development. She said that piracy was a global issue. Therefore regional and international cooperation was needed. She further expressed the wish that UNESCO and WIPO jointly play an active role in providing guidance and assistance for efficient copyright enforcement, as well as assistance in training and exchange of experience.

UNESCO’s online promotion of WAPO

This document also says:

As a new web-based reference tool, WAPO’s launch needs promotion and marketing. The communication strategy developed in this context aims to make the website well known and visible. In addition to direct promotional activities e.g. written communications and information material to Member States, national copyright authorities, civil society and other stakeholders at the national and international level, the communication strategy of the Secretariat also includes online website promotion. . . .

An article about WAPO has been posted to Wikipedia.

This online promotion strategy would be more efficient if UNESCO made a wee effort to understand the workings and apply the rules of the online tools it uses: as mentioned in UNESCO, World Anti-Piracy Observatory and YouTube, users seeing their comments to its YouTube videos delayed indefinitely for moderation tend to interpret this delay as arrogance and/or censorship. If the person in charge of UNESCO’s YouTube channel  does not have time – or does not know how –  to moderate comments, s/he should disable them instead.  YouTubers would prefer that to the present limbo.

And as to  the French version of the Wikipedia article about WAPO mentioned in this document, it was started anonymously but from a computer whose IP address is on 2010-02-15. Wikipedia generated a user page and a talk page for that  address. This talk page starts with an identification of as belonging to “a school institution: United Nations Éducational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.” It also  contains a warning about vandalism perpetrated from the same IP address in another Wikipedia article (2009-08-16) and a message about the deletion of a picture uploaded from that IP address, on the ground of misidentification (2010-04-23).

Moreover, the history of this French article on WAPO shows that the WAPO logo, originally inserted in the article by someone using the UNESCO computer, was removed on 2010-04-11 because UNESCO had not answered the permission request to use it sent from Wikimedia Commons a month before. In fact, even if the logo had been inserted from a UNESCO computer, there was no evidence that the person who did the insertion had the right to publish it under Wikipedia’s BY-SA Creative Commons license – especially considering the former misuses of Wikipedia listed in the talk page for that IP address.

As to the English Wikipedia article on WAPO, its history shows that the present version (first created 2010-03-12 by Moonriddengirl) replaces an original one that was deleted for copyright violation.

Piracy: current trends and non-legislative measures to counteract it – IGC(1971)/XIV/5A


As already mentioned, WAPO was created at the request of members of  UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Copyright Committee during its 13th session (2005). WAPO’s strict adherence to the position of the content industry reflects the line of the preparatory document by Dr Dareell Panethiere – formerly a representative of “Warner Music, ESPN, LO-MAX Records, Circus Records, London Symphony Orchestra” and  “legal adviser to IFPI member companies and national groups on all aspects of copyright law” according to his biography on musictank.co.uk – in his  The persistence of piracy: the consequences for creativity, for culture and for sustainable development working paper for that 13th session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Copyright Committee.


In his Piracy: current trends and non-legislative measures to counteract it IGC(1971)/XIV/5A working document for the he 14th Session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Copyright Committee, Luis Villaroel offers a much more balanced view. He first examines the concept of piracy, reminding readers that:

The only international standard-setting instrument that defines the concept of piracy is the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) of  the World Trade Organization (WTO). . . .

The term “piracy” is not defined as such by the Universal Copyright Convention (Paris, 1971), by the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Paris, 1971), the Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (Rome, 1961), nor by the WIPO Internet Treaties (1996). None of these legal instruments neither mentions the term nor makes an explicit reference to pirated goods.

He also explains the problems arising from the fact that while there has been a globalization of prohibitions under copyright law, restrictions to these prohibitions remain national and differ from country to country:

Moreover, it is a well-established rule that copyright protection is governed by the principle of territoriality. According to this principle, works or copies deemed as infringing in a country can be authorized in another. A practical example of the principle of territoriality can be found in the reproduction of works for quotation purposes. While in some countries, it is allowed to reproduce the image of a plastic work for quotation purposes, others only allow quotations of literary works.

Villaroel also qualifies available data about the economic impact of “piracy”:

However, because there are no official studies, as it has been mentioned previously, it is only possible to refer to studies and surveys prepared by representatives of the affected industries. It might be important to note that according to some observers, “the statistics provided by industry associations, since they are intended to highlight the extent of the problem of the trade in infringing products, are inevitably biased upwards.” [this quotation is attributed in a footnote to M. Blakeney, Policy Responses to the Involvement of Organized Crime in Intellectual Property Offences, WIPO Advisory Committee on Enforcement: Fifth Session, 2009]

His  final recommendations reflect the need for a balance between protecting the rights of the authors and ensuring users’ access to knowledge and information:

Building on the strategies that have been used in the past and taking into account the tendency of constant increase of illegal uses, it seems appropriate to give priority to the following policies and measures:

1. Strengthen the education of users by:
a) highlighting the benefits of copyright;
b) informing on the negative effects of the purchase of illegal and pirated goods;
c) informing on the exercise of exceptions to copyright and on alternatives of access to works via flexible licenses or public domain.

2. Train public authorities, including those in charge of enforcement (judges, police officers, officials and others) on:
a) the rationale of the protection of intellectual property;
b) protection measures, legislative or not, and their costs;
c) the context and importance of an appropriate enforcement of the law and its effects, including exceptions and limitations as parts of the solution to piracy;
d) the importance of developing methodologies and standards for a transparent and objective assessment of piracy levels and its consequences.

3. Train and raise awareness of cultural industries on:
a) the importance to develop new pricing policies that encourage the purchase of legal goods;
b) the necessity to improve the legal offer and to create new business models and  new distribution systems.

4. Promote agreements between the interested stakeholders. Authorities, cultural industries, authors and artists, collective management organizations, telecommunications and Internet service provider companies, should aim to reach agreements with the purpose of putting in place equitable compensation systems for creators of contents and protect access to information in the context of an “information society” that should be inclusive.

5. Create forums of debate and promote dialogue between all stakeholders with a view to developing and implementing coherent anti-piracy policy measures that take into account all interests at stake.

6. Develop indicators to measure progress of policies, contributions and commitments of the parties involved, concerning the prevention of piracy and enforcement of intellectual property rules; as well as their costs, results and effects on the market and the society.


If  UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Copyright Committee

then maybe people will pay attention to what UNESCO states about copyright and use the WAPO tool (when it hopefully represents more than 52% of its member countries).

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