[free-sklyarov] WIPO, WTO, and the DMCA

C. Scott Ananian cananian at lesser-magoo.lcs.mit.edu
Mon Aug 27 10:17:03 PDT 2001

[this message cc'ed to freesklyarov.org and anti-dmca.org for use on their
 websites if they wish.  permission generally granted to use this
 explanation in support of efforts to repeal/reform the DMCA.]

Some people have asked for more details regarding the relationship of the
DMCA, the WIPO, and the WTO.  Short summary: one of the alternate names
for the DMCA bill is "WIPO Treaty Implementing Legislation". More info:

First take a look at the top of
which states baldly that:
  Title I of the DMCA amends U.S. copyright law to comply with the World
  Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and the WIPO
  Performances and Phonograms Treaty, adopted at the WIPO Diplomatic
  Conference in December 1996.

  Two major provisions in the WIPO treaties require contracting parties to
  provide legal remedies against circumventing technological protection
  measures and tampering with copyright management information. To comply
  with these provisions, the DMCA adds a new chapter, Chapter 12, to Title
  17 of the United States Code.

The timeline at
provides a more in-depth look at the interaction between the WIPO treaty
process and the DMCA legislation.  Note that, if you read this entire
document, that although it is targetted at the library community it is not
especially outspoken on the dangers of the DMCA to libraries.  The
explanation for this is simple: it was written in February 1999, and at
the time the libraries were optimistic that the exemptions they'd been
promised would actually materialize.  See
for their reaction to how the law actually turned out.
See also

Back to the WIPO:

The Digital Future Coalition (a group that involves libraries, schools,
consumer-rights groups, academics, and others) has a little more
DMCA information, as well as more WIPO-related stuff at

So now you're asking: where does the WTO fit in?
The WTO and the WIPO have a "mutually supportive relationship" with
"appropriate arrangements for cooperation", see
This mutual relationship is structured around the WTO's "TRIPS" agreement
which sets out the rules that members of the WTO must follow in setting up
systems to protect intellectual property rights within their borders.  See 
for a much more balanced overview of the TRIPS agreement.

So, the WTO and the WIPO are not the same thing, but they are definitely
working together on these issues.  And see
which discusses efforts to export this same law to the FTAA (Free Trade
Agreement of the Americas) process.  The European Union is also
considering similar legislation, see
for more details.

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              ( http://lesser-magoo.lcs.mit.edu/~cananian )
 "These students are going to have to find out what law and order is
 all about."  -- Brig. General Robert Canterbury, Noon, May 4, 1970,
 minutes before his troops shot 13 unarmed Kent State students, killing 4.
#!/usr/bin/perl -w
# 526-byte qrpff, Keith Winstein and Marc Horowitz <sipb-iap-dvd at mit.edu>
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[$_]^(($h>>=8)+=$f+(~$g&$t))for at a[128..$#a]}print+x"C*", at a}';s/x/pack+/g;eval

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