WIPO is offering free online courses starting next week in what lawyers like to call "intellectual property", but here is the breakdown of what they will cover, and it's very diverse:
The general course includes such areas as copyright, patents, trademarks, geographical indications, industrial design, plant breeders' rights, unfair competition and international registration systems. Some 38,000 people from over 180 countries have taken it since the Academy was founded in 1998.
The Academy will also offer advanced courses in copyright, patents and trademarks, starting in May.
Later in the year, the WIPO Academy will launch, for a range of fees, first-time courses on the intellectual property aspects of traditional knowledge, biotechnology and the “international protection of plant varieties.”
I went to register, and only the primer course is still open for registration. The more diverse course is closed, but it will be repeated in October, and registration for that begins July 1. My experience with online courses has been wonderful, and while I'm sure this will be top-heavy in favor of rights holders, the knowledge can be used in other ways, and I hope many of you will be able to take the courses. I can't vouch for the quality, because this announcement is new to me too, but I'm definitely going to look into signing up, at least in May, if I can afford it. The paid courses are $450, which is quite a lot. But the more we all know, the better. You don't have to be a lawyer or have any legal training to sign up.
I've been looking for a crash course in patent law, though, and I hope you are too. If anyone knows of any online that I could take, I'm all ears. I am convinced that is the real battle ahead.
They do offer an advanced, paid course in international copyright law, and that interests me a great deal.
Here is where you sign up. Before you do, read this page. And there is more information here. This WIPO press release says courses are available in languages other than English, specifically in French, Spanish and Portuguese.
However, WIPO evidently didn't get the memo that some people don't use Windows, and the Distance Learning page says, in listing the technical requirements, that you must have Internet Explorer 5 or higher. I don't have it period, because my Windows computer died, and I'm not going to replace it, so I'll email them and see what, if anything, can be done. I don't intend to buy an operating system I don't need just for a class, but their software may well be tied to the Windows operating system. Maybe if they hear from enough of us, they'll figure out a way.
Here is the list of courses available in English. Anyway, we can investigate this resource together. Maybe some mainstream media journalists will sign up too? It's an opportunity to get the big picture clearly in mind, which can only come in handy when covering stories like the SCO v. Everybody story.