GRAIN | 20 September 2001 | Seedling - September 2001
Sprouting Up: WANT TO LET OFF STEAM ABOUT IPRS?
Seedling September 2001
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) decided to celebrate all the benefits of intellectual property rights with an International Day of Intellectual Property Rights on April 26, 2002. Part of the process leading up to it is an essay contest in response to the question: "WHAT DOES INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY MEAN TO YOU IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?"
Shortly afterwards, WIPOUT, an international organisation consisting of academics, artists, musicians, and other activists, launched the Intellectual Property Counter-Essay Contest The counter contest is intended to challenge the over-protection of intellectual property, which is doing much damage to education, health care, the environment, and economic security for millions around the world.
Entrants are being asked to address the same question that WIPO has posed and expects rather different answers to those WIPO is seeking out. WIPOUT's website also has a space for shorter 'Point of View' pieces on the same topic for those who have something to say, but do not want to write an essay. WIPOUT's contest will run until 15 March, 2002. The winning essays will be chosen by an international panel of judges and the results announced on 26 April, 2002, the same day that WIPO announces the winners of its contest. WIPOUT's prize fund currently totals £1,500 (approx. $US2,100).
Unlike submissions to most essay contests, WIPOUT's essays will be immediately posted on the website and accessible to all readers, not just the judges. And although WIPOUT is hosting a 'contest', we see the competitive aspect of the contest secondary to the purpose of enabling a public and critical debate on the over-protection of IP. More than 40 groups and individuals from 10 countries have, to date, announced their support for WIPOUT. WIPOUT sees the contest as a way of building on recent high-profile issues such as the South African anti-HIV drugs case, the growing protests against the TRIPS agreement and the WTO, and public concern about genetically modified crops and the patenting of human genes and plants. Essays can be submitted to WIPOUT in English, French, German, and Spanish. A selection of initial essays, submitted for judging purposes or for the shorter non-judged "point of view" section of the website, has already been posted on the website.
So what can you do? First, go and check WIPOUT's website, www.wipout.net, and look at the contributions already posted. Then if you want to become a part of the contest and join in the campaign against the over-protection of intellectual property, you can:
1) Write an essay or a 'Point of View' and submit it to WIPOUT.
2) Become an official endorser of the competition.
3) Make a contribution to WIPOUT's prize fund.
4) Put a link to WIPOUT on your website (a .jpg button can be provided).
5) Talk about it in your newsletter/magazine.
6) Download the WIPOUT poster and put it up in your workplace, university, school, etc
7) Spread the word.
The Intellectual Property Counter-Essay Contest is at www.wipout.net
You can email WIPOUT at firstname.lastname@example.org
Details of the WIPO contest can be found at: www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/alert/2001/ma03rev.htm
Reference for this article: GRAIN, 2001, Want to let off steam about IPRs, Seedling, Sprouting Up, Volume 18, Issue 3, June 2001, GRAIN Publications
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