Could WIPO be defunded?

Defunding the World Intellectual Property Organisation could have an impact on the technology industry in short order. It's conceivable that any restraint on software and content piracy abroad could be lifted.

Defunding the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) could have an impact on the technology industry in short order. It's conceivable that any restraint on software and content piracy abroad could be lifted.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation, which aims to curb piracy around the world, could be defunded quickly should the Palestinians look to join under a US law from 1994.

The Christian Science Monitor noted that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation decision to recognise Palestine as a state could wreak havoc on certain groups if they follow suit. For instance, the US defunded the UN culture and education agency shortly after Palestine was recognised.

Under a 1994 law, the US has to cut financial ties with any UN agency that gives Palestinians full membership. The Christian Science Monitor also noted that if the Palestinians wanted to join WIPO the country would be a lock. WIPO has 184 member states.

CBS News reported:

The lopsided vote to admit Palestine as a member of UNESCO, which only the United States and 13 other countries opposed, triggered a long-standing congressional ban on US funding to UN bodies that recognise Palestine as a state before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached. The State Department said a $60 million payment to UNESCO scheduled for November would not be made as a result, and US officials warned of a "cascade" effect at other UN bodies that might follow UNESCO's lead.

Now Palestine may have other priorities that rate higher than digital piracy, but you can't rule out a US move to defund it. The US has been a strong supporter of WIPO as it tries to cut piracy of movies and software. WIPO broke down its funding on its website:

WIPO is unusual among the family of UN organisations in that it is largely self-financing. About 90 per cent of the organisation's budgeted expenditure of 618.8 million Swiss francs for the 2010-2011 biennium will come from earnings from the services which WIPO provides to users of the international registration systems (PCT, Madrid system, The Hague System, etc). The remaining 10 per cent will be made up mainly of revenue from WIPO's arbitration and mediation services and sales of publications, plus contributions from Member States. These contributions are relatively small. The five largest contributing countries each donate about one-half per cent of the organisation's budget.

WIPO extends into patent and copyright issues as well as piracy and features a bevy of intellectual property treaties.

In other words, defunding WIPO could have an impact on the technology industry in short order. It's conceivable that any restraint on software and content piracy abroad could be lifted.

Via ZDNet US