May 24, 2024

WIPO Considering a Ban on Computers

Ernest Miller points to a draft treaty being considered by the World Intellectual Property Organization. It’s a truly remarkable document. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

Here’s the most amazing part, from Article 16, Alternative V:

2. In particular, effective legal remedies shall be provided against those who:

(iii) participate in the manufacture, importation, sale, or any other act that makes available a device or system capable of decrypting or helping to decrypt an encrypted program-carrying signal.

Every computer is “capable of decrypting or helping to decrypt” such a signal, so this provision, if adopted, would apparently require signatories to the treaty to ban the importation, sale, or distribution of computers.

Note this this is just an “alternative” under consideration. It was proposed by Argentina, and Switzerland proposed language that “roughly corresponds” to it. I don’t know whether the U.S. has taken a position on this, but I assume the U.S. is still in favor of computers being legal.


  1. WIPO – It’s a Wrap

    Reports Cory @ BoingBoing: The Broadcast Treaty is a proposal from a WIPO Subcommittee that’s supposedly about stopping “signal theft.” But along the way, this proposal has turned into a huge, convoluted hairball that threatens to make the PC illegal,…

  2. Ban On Computers

    Freedom to Tinker highlights some severe lunacy by the World Intellectual Property Organization. Here’s the most amazing part, from Article 16, Alternative V: 2. In particular, effective legal remedies shall be provided against those who: … (iii) par…

  3. And I thought April Fool’s day came on the 1st day of April, not the 7th day.

    Hmm, on the 7th day the creator rested and the WIPO banned thinking.

    I mean why not?

    Of course, who would have thunk it. Especially coming from WIPO, the organization set up to stimulate knowledge, science and the general improvement of humanity.

    Sorry, folks … every time I read this one I can’t stop laughing.

  4. Laura Borst says

    I believe this is too much censorship. They might ban computers. Or would they cause computers to be even more amenable to surveillance than they already are. This is potentially dangerous. Some copyright holders(such as the Diebold Corporation of voting machine infamy) have misinterpreted new copyright law to think of it as enabling them to exercise censorship of critics of what they might produce. Anything that restricts such free speech is dangerous because that would restrict ability to expose the abuses perpetrated by corporations and other copyright holders.

  5. Broadcast Flag, Supersized

    Two essential posts on the WIPO Treaty for the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations (PDF), a broadcast flag Writ Large that threatens to remove many of the public’s rights under the copyright laws of most countries in the world: Edward Felten,…

  6. Doesn’t this also ban pencils, pens, and paper, not to mention mathematics?

    Shouldn’t they think just a tad before they write up stuff, even “alternatives” and the like?

  7. Hamilton Lovecraft says

    Hmm, watching TV illegal? I guess we’d better put in a provision which also makes it illegal to not buy advertisers’ products and to not subscribe to cable. Then all the stakeholders will be happy. Heck, you could even save the cost of producing the shows at that point! I smell profits.

  8. Bored Huge Krill says

    as I just posted over at /. on this subject, it’s worse than that:

    as framed, it makes *televisions* illegal. After all, they must decrypt the content in order to allow you to watch it. Part (iii) doesn’t say anything about the purpose for which it was decrypted. Decrypting is not allowed, period. That’s what it says.

    Incidentally, part (i) of this provision would make *watching* the illegal TV illegal too, by the same argument.

    I’m thinking this isn’t what they had in mind, but it shows what WIPO can achieve if it really sets its mind to writing draconian legislative proposals without thinking too hard first.