Egad. We're a country run by fools...
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was convinced by Jamie Love and others to hold a meeting about "open collaborative models to develop public goods." One of those models is, of course, open source and free software. Lobbyists for Microsoft and others apparently (according to this extraordinary story by Jonathan Krim) started lobbying the US government to get the meeting cancelled. No surprise there. Open source and free software is a competitor to MSFT's products. Lobbying is increasingly the way competition is waged in America.
But the astonishing part is the justification for the US opposing the meeting. According to the Post, Lois Boland, director of international relations for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said "that open-source software runs counter to the mission of WIPO, which is to promote intellectual-property rights." As she is quoted as saying, "To hold a meeting which has as its purpose to disclaim or waive such rights seems to us to be contrary to the goals of WIPO."
Read the rest in Lawrence Lessig's blog