Thursday, July 28, 2005

IPR and IG for development

I think that the WGIG report was a good start at defining IG and the issues involved. The 4 clusters in the background report are, IMO, very good as a categorisation that can be taken forward for quite a while. There were over 40 issues considered by the WGIG in the context of IG. Many of these were not strict IG issues according to the definition, but were considered becasue there was at the time no other organisation looking at said issues.

The IPR issue was left, by the WGIG, to the WIPO, as the WIPO is working on IPR and development issues (unfortunately the last meeting ended in a stalemate as the USA and Japan stonewalled). However, IPR issues do have a forum in which they can be debated and discussed. The WGIG report included a discussion of the issues for educational purposes, but clearly left the management of IPR to WIPO. The WIPO is currently working on opening the process to business and CS. It hasn't happened to the extent that CS would like, but the recent meetings have been open. WIPO also ran an extensive online consultation recently, to which many developing country reps contributed.

Coming from a developing country that has benefited from current IPR legislation, both in terms of software/hardware development for the oil industry as well as the entertainment industry, I don't necessarily subscribe to the belief that extending the IPR regime to digital product is bad for developing countries. The issue at hand is that the majority of IP that has been created was created or registered by developed countries. The solution is not to attack IPR rights but to develop our own IP and then use the current regime to protect it the way developed countries and companies and individuals do.

The choice of a licensing scheme has to be left up to the creators of the IP. If we choose to give away our IPR to assist in development, then that has to be our choice. If there is a push for a regime which forces creators to give up their IPR to developing countries, it is clear that this will stifle creation and innovation, as many musicians, filmmakers etc have already stated.

With regard to national laws - there is already pressure for national laws to conform to the international regime. If these laws do not conform or are not enforced, then the creators of the IP have every right to refuse to allow their material to be used in those countries. The current level of digital protection (software activation etc) is only IMO detrimental to privacy in that it allows the identification of infringers of copyright (people who have broken the IPR laws, aka criminals). As a producer of IP, I cannot see this as a bad thing - to allow me to find out who has stolen my property.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

MDGs and resource scarcity

I have been looking at the MDGs in the context of global resource scarcity. Right now, a large part of the increased cost of oil is the push on the demand side by developing countries that are pushing development goals, tied into the decline in oil production by the large producers (mainly Saudi Arabia). Has anyone considered the requirements in non-renewable resources if the MDGs are met with the current technology (oil based)?
This came into my mind when I was reading about the problem that Nicaragua in particular and some other Caribbean countries are having with sustaining growth with the increasing price of oil. The current price floor is US$50/barrel. If it goes up (as it is expected to), then how can developing countries afford to develop?
UNLESS the development is tied to intense research and development and implementation of alternative energy sources, such as wind, wave, solar.
IMO, blind charging ahead to implement the MDGs without looking at the resources needed (and not just financial) and the impact on the environment, to me might lead us to a worse case than we are at now.
Take a look at for some articles including the one on Nicaragua.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Hurricane part 3

Still raining. Lots of rain. Pouring rain. High winds. No flooding in my area, but other areas, still to the East (a couple of miles) have lost power, phone and there is flooding, trees down, etc. No reports of injuries or anything like that yet.
Emily has started to strengthen a lot. Last report claims a "burst of energy". Wonder where she got that from? The other islands to the North are starting to get blasted. Poor Grenada is getting hit AGAIN, 8 months after Ivan destroyed 90% of the housing on the island. Most rebuliding has only now started, and some are glad that they haven't - imaging rebuilding only to lose your house again...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Hurricane part 2

It's been raining really hard for about 3 hours now, and the storm is only now approaching. Wind is picking up, but nothing is flying around in the air or anything yet. No flooding in my area yet. Other areas more to the east (like Tobago and Toco) are being hit first, and we're hearing a lot of flooding, high seas, some trees down, but no injuries or anything like that yet.
I think I'll be fine. I live in a pretty sheltered area.
Getting lots of email from friends abroad. Nice to get the concern.
Emily is now a hurricane - only Category one. Can't compare to Ivan, Dennis or any of the great storms, but it's bad enough for me.

Hurricane - first one to hit Trinidad in recorded history

Hurricanes always miss Trinidad. They hit Tobago, most famously and destructively in 1963 (Flora) and Grenada (Ivan, 2004). But Trinidad, NEVER! At the last minute, they always veer North or East, and we don't even get rained on.
Well, all good things must come to an end. Tropical Storm Emily is heading our way. Not turning North at all. 12:30 PM the PM gave an order for everyone to go home. I was lucky - living 2 miles from work, it only took me 1 hour! Makes no sense for the entire country to get out onto the roads at the same time! Good thing the storm is only scheduled to hit 6 hours later.
So - I decided to start the blog on this. Lets see how it goes.
I've got the water, taped the windows, checked batteries for flashlights, radio, etc., cleared the yard of anything that might fly (debris, furniture etc) while being laughed at by my neighbours, as it wasn't raining.
So I'm inside, checking the NOAA site and waiting.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Caribbean on the Road to WSIS

So I'm here in the lovely isle of St. Kitts in the Caribbean, at a workshop to discuss the Caribbean and the Information society. Lots of interesting work going on. BUT how come I have to come here to hear about it? What is the media doing with regard to the Information Society? From what I've heard, or rather, not heard, in the news media, a big fat nothing!
There are major events going on worldwide on national programmes for bridging the Digital Divide. The Caribbean has some of the most innovative and interesting programmes. But our national and regional media are ignoring the events. How much have we heard in Trinidad and Tobago about the fastforward initiative? I heard more about it from Kenyan and other African people than from Trinidadians! It's considered a great project outside. I couldn't say, as there has been no discussion of it in the media or in the society in general in T&T (that I've heard, or that many of my friends have heard) except for the adverts starring David Rudder and George Bovell III after he won his medals in the Olympics.
So when is the local media going to get interested in this issue? The Internet Governance issue is HUGE. There were major stories last week about the US DoC's statement on IG, ICANN nad control and oversight of the Internet.
Where were the local media stories? Where was the discussion of what this could mean to us in the Caribbean? When will this be documented in the local media?

The new Board of Directors of IGovTT

The new Board of Directors of  IGovTT  was presented with congratulatory letters by The Honourable Maxie Cuffie, Minister of Public Admini...