Friday, November 11, 2011

Is Francis Gurry in an unwinnable war? (Copyrighting Azerbaijani heritage)

My analytics reported a sudden uptick in activity for a post that I wrote back on October 10. The post was entitled Was Francis Gurry Right? (Patenting the Internet). Gurry heads the World Intellectual Property Organization. In the post, I engaged in a "what if" scenario, wondering what would have happened if a company such as Xerox had patented some of the underlying technologies that support today's Internet. My conclusion - there wouldn't have been an Internet, because Xerox would have used those underlying technologies to connect photocopiers rather than people. Of course, tools are not always used for their intended purpose.

Howard Cosell: "I am perturbed by the juvenile antics of certain individuals at the National Broadcasting Corporation who continue to transmit electronic representations of their posteriors to yours truly"

However, I had the sneaking suspicion that the post was not receiving activity because of my witty prose. I concluded that Francis Gurry must have done something newsworthy again, and that people were upon my post while looking for the news that they really wanted to hear.

In the process of searching for the latest news on Gurry, I ran across this item, which begins as follows:

The Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Francis Gurry responded to the Azerbaijani Copyright Agency's appeal made in connection with larceny and misappropriation of samples of Azerbaijani folklore, works of authors and other samples of the intangible heritage by the Armenians.

Oh boy. It looks like Francis Gurry has gotten himself entangled in an ethnic war. You know how Armenia hates Turkey? Well, Armenia itself is the recipient of the hatred of Azerbaijan - which made things pretty uncomfortable when both were part of the Soviet Union - and before that time.

The item that I cited didn't provide Gurry's response in detail, but said the following:

The WIPO Director General's letter addressed to the Azerbaijani side stresses that all the facts will be considered. The letter expresses hope for further good relations with the Azerbaijani Copyright Agency.

Spoken like a true bureaucrat.

For other views on this, see what folklore enthusiast Scott M had to say in response to the Copyright Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The latter contains some disconcerting news for Trololo lovers:

The same problem occurred in connection with "Vokaliz" work, created on the basis of Azerbaijan folk music. As it has been stated in the letter, addressed to WIPO, as a result of illegal use of that song by Armenians requirements of the Law " About the legal protection of expressions of Azerbaijan folklore" (incorrect indication of origin) as well as respecting article of Bern Convention, provided for protection of unknown author's work, as well as folklore works, and also requirements of respecting articles stipulated for protection of arrangement and private non-property right were breached.
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