August 22, 2003 · Lessig
The thread about Ms. Boland’s (mis)characterization of open-source software (remember the days when statements were either true or false?) reminded me of an odd fight I found myself in the middle of at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva in February.
I was asked to give one of three keynotes launching the second preparatory conference. At a press conference before the keynote, a reporter asked what I was going to talk about. I indicated vaguely I would discuss the importance of the public domain to innovation, etc. (same old boring stuff). But I was then astonished when the moderator of the event, Maria CATTAUI, Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce, scolded me that issues of “intellectual property” were not to be discussed because they were “exclusively” the concern of WIPO.
I promptly threw away the talk I had intended to give, and gave a completely different talk about how — Ms. Cattaui’s scolding notwithstanding — it was crucial that a summit on the world “information society” consider the role of the public domain in spreading knowledge and culture even if WIPO claimed exclusive jurisdiction of the matter. That assured I won’t be invited back to WSIS anytime soon (or at least by Ms. Cattaui).
It is therefore extraordinary now that people purporting to speak for WIPO would say that WIPO too is not to consider issues about the public domain. Neither at WIPO, nor at WSIS, nor apparently anywhere. Except among us commies I guess. (Fellow travelers, for our next secret communist meeting, be sure to read the latest great work by some of the most prominent IP commies out there. Linked here.)