Geneva, Switzerland — Today, the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, was rejected for the third time from gaining accreditation as a permanent observer to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Once again, China was the only country to oppose the Wikimedia Foundation’s request for observer status, inaccurately claiming, as it has before, that the Foundation is complicit in spreading disinformation. These accusations are unfounded and misrepresent Wikipedia’s model, which prioritizes accuracy and neutrality, and is recognized for its unique and effective practices to combat mis- and disinformation online.
WIPO — the specialized United Nations (UN) agency that determines global policies on copyright, patents, and trademarks — and its 193 member states are at the core of global conversations about the future of copyright.
Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects rely on open, flexible copyright policies to ensure knowledge can be accessed and shared freely across these platforms with millions of people across the world. The Foundation champions the usage of modern and flexible copyright to benefit the public good with free knowledge and culture. In turn, the Foundation’s presence at WIPO would help to ensure that the future of copyright truly reflects the global and diverse needs of the internet.
“The Wikimedia Foundation represents a legitimate and widely-recognized community of experts on copyright and knowledge-sharing. Barring the Foundation from conversations at WIPO means closing the door on a network of global citizens dedicated to everyone’s right to access and share knowledge,” said Stephen LaPorte, General Counsel of the Wikimedia Foundation. “We regret that the Foundation has once again been denied the opportunity to participate as observers at WIPO, especially on the basis of erroneous statements. We call on WIPO leadership to find a solution that can resolve this deadlock.”
The Foundation applied as a permanent observer to WIPO in 2020, 2021, and again this year. Its application was once again denied during WIPO’s General Assembly meeting based on a lack of consensus as a result of China’s opposition. Switzerland, both in its individual capacity and as coordinator of the WIPO group of industrialized countries (which includes Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Turkey, the Holy See, and many member states of the European Union), the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Canada expressed public support for the Foundation’s application.
Wikimedia chapters are independent, nonprofit organizations that support and promote Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects in a specific geographic location. While the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia chapters collaborate in our shared free knowledge mission, each organization is governed and operates independently with its own bylaws, board of directors, and organization plan.
About the Wikimedia Foundation
The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia and other Wikimedia free knowledge projects. Our vision is a world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. We believe that everyone has the potential to contribute something to our shared knowledge, and that everyone should be able to access that knowledge freely. We host Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects, build software experiences for reading, contributing, and sharing Wikimedia content, support the volunteer communities and partners who make Wikimedia possible, and advocate for policies that enable Wikimedia and free knowledge to thrive.
The Wikimedia Foundation is a charitable, not-for-profit organization that relies on donations. We receive donations from millions of individuals around the world, with an average donation of about $15. We also receive donations through institutional grants and gifts. The Wikimedia Foundation is a United States 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with offices in San Francisco, California, USA.