you’re going to the movies this weekend, you may
without realising it be marking this year’s World IP
Day. The theme WIPO has chosen for the annual occasion, now
in its 14th year, is "Movies – A Global
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry
(right) says the theme was chosen for several reasons: it is
something everyone relates to and there is an easy connection
with IP; there is a challenge arising from the online
environment; and globalisation has seen cinema expand beyond
the traditional powers of Hollywood and Europe to India,
Nigeria, Korea, China and elsewhere.
It is the second point, regarding digital piracy, that Gurry
describes as "particularly worrying". He says: "In the
movies there is an enormous disjunction between the cost of
production and the cost of reproduction. A movie may take 12
months and several hundred people to make and will involve all
forms of IP – music performance, the writer of the
script, all the actors; there’s an enormous
aggregation of IP, all reproduced for zero marginal cost and
He says the solution is partly about "tweaks in the
legislative framework" but more about pushing new business
models. On the former, he cites the need to revisit and refine
the first-sale doctrine, as it’s called in the US:
"What does that mean in a digital environment?"
But the major part of the transition is business models.
"We’ve seen many more successful ways of
monetising content. We now need to create the infrastructure of
the digital marketplace," Gurry says. That means for
example making it easier to license content across different
jurisdictions: "It should be as easy to get content legally as
it is illegally. That involves cooperation by all partners and
mainly by the private sector." He cites Netflix as an example
of a new, legal, means of distributing content that is "highly
World IP Day is an opportunity to spread information and
education about IP in a positive manner beyond the normally
engaged communities, and Gurry says movies provide a great
vehicle to do this: "It is an opportunity to say: you love
movies. Think for a moment about all the people involved ...
and how they earn their living. The harsh reality is that 99%
of actors make a meagre economic existence. If you want more of
those movies, people have to finance production."
Asked what message he has for children who download films
illegally, Gurry says they need to understand the economics of
the industry but also stresses that it is down to parents to
buy legitimate content: "They buy books, they pay for sporting
events, and movies and music are another example of the same
He picks out Werner Herzog’s The Enigma of
Kaspar Hauser, the 1974 movie is about a man who suddenly
appears in society, as his own favourite film. Among more
recent movies, he says he enjoyed The
Cider House Rules.
Gurry will be spending World IP Day in the US, speaking at
Conference in New York before travelling to Washington DC.
There will be a celebration at WIPO’s headquarters
in Geneva next Monday.
Gurry was recently
chosen by WIPO’s Coordination Committee to
serve for a second six-year term starting from this October.
The WIPO General Assembly will meet on May 8-9 to confirm the
In the interview, he confirmed that, for the first time,
WIPO will invite direct applications for the various deputy
director general and assistant director general positions.
Notices will be published in the summer.
In part 2 of this exclusive interview, to be published next
week, Gurry speaks about his plans for his forthcoming second
term as Director General, where he thinks WIPO needs to improve
and what lessons he learned from his first term.
Managing IP has compiled a
quiz on IP in the movies to mark World IP Day.
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