Letter supporting Wikimedia Foundation’s application for observer status at WIPO

Today, on the October 8th, 2021, 55 organizations signed and sent the letter to Delegations, supporting the Wikimedia Foundation’ application for observer status at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The latter is a response to Chinas blocking of the Wikimedia Foundation’s bid for observer status at the WIPO for the second time after the Foundation’s initial application in 2020. The signatories of the latter, including Intellectual Property Institute (IPI), called on Delegations to do everything in their power to facilitate admission of the Wikimedia Foundation at the next series of meetings of the WIPO Assemblies, without any further delays.

The Wikimedia Foundation operates Wikipedia, one of the most popular sources of information for people around the world. Amanda Keton, General Counsel of the Wikimedia Foundation, pointed out that “the Foundation’s exclusion sets a worrying precedent for other organizations – nonprofits and for-profits – that are committed to promoting access to information, culture, and education.”

Creative Commons pointed out, that WIPO plays a pivotal role in shaping international rules that influence the sharing of free knowledge, and that this decision deprives the Wikimedia Foundation’s vast global communities of the opportunity to participate in this process. Creative Commons, furthermore, reaffirmd its support for Wikimedia Foundation’s application and called on WIPO members, including the People’s Republic of China, to reconsider this decision. Communia was also one of the organisations to support Wikimedia Foundation’s application, and is also reporting on this issue on this link.

Furthermore, in their letter, the signatories have pointed out that the Wikimedia Foundation is an active and respected stakeholder in the areas of access to knowledge and information, as well as copyright policy, and that its projects have a global outreach. The Foundation and its network have contributed to national and regional legislative processes that are aimed at shaping the legal framework for user rights.

Given the key role of WIPO in shaping normative and practical work around copyright that impacts how researchers, educators and the public at large access and use knowledge, not admitting the Foundation as an observer would be unacceptable and it would run counter with the established practice on criteria for admission of observers at WIPO.