More than 275 artists and celebrities have been featured. signed on to an open letter endorsing a patent waiver for coronavirus vaccines and slamming the “flimsy” arguments made by industry lobbyists defending the global intellectual property regime, which has fueled massive inequities in vaccine access.
The letter was signed by Naomi Klein, actor Mark Ruffalo and producer Lilly Wachowski. It also includes hundreds of other signatures.
The Intercept reported earlier this year that “the Motion Picture Association, which represents major movie and television studios, deployed five lobbyists to influence Congress and the White House over the waiver. The Association of American Publishers as well as Universal Music have similarly revealed that they are actively lobbying against it.”
“Industry sources say the lobbyists are concerned that the waiver will be too broad in scope and could open the door for increased piracy,” The Intercept noted. “But the copyright industry push relates to a provision of the proposal that would waive copyright enforcement for the ‘prevention, containment and treatment of Covid-19.’”
In the new open letter, creators write that industry interests are “using false arguments based on copyright laws for our creative works” to prevent the sharing of “lifesaving treatment with countries in need.”
“We fear that these groups will continue to lobby in our names to hinder this urgent process upon which many of our livelihoods depend,” the letter reads. “Sharing lifesaving technology will not harm musicians, actors, writers, or other creative professionals. It will save many people who live in different countries around the world and allow us to travel, perform, share, and even share our creative work with the rest of the world. It is absurd that some of the associations that claim to represent creators’ interests are instead fighting for Big Pharma.”
“In solidarity with billions of people around the world,” the letter continues, “we demand that representatives from artist and creator associations immediately stop any lobbying efforts to weaken, delay, or disrupt the Covid-19 TRIPS waiver at the WTO.”
The updated “No Covid in Our Name” letter was released days after the WTO postponed its biannual Ministerial Conference following the detection of the Omicron variant, which public health campaigners argue is a predictable resultApartheid against vaccines is a deeply rooted practice.
Supporters of the waiver of patents on vaccines, including U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders(I-Vt.), have asked the WTO for approval of the proposal immediately, despite the postponement.
Lia Holland, campaigns and communications director at Fight for the Future — one of the groups that helped organize the letter — said in a statement Thursday that “it’s extremely disturbing to see organizations that purport to represent the interests of creators acting in such stark opposition to the health, safety, and business interests of the entertainment and creative industries.”
“While pharmaceutical companies stand to profit from desperation-fueled pricing the longer the pandemic stretches,” Holland added, “creators can only lose in a world where we can’t gather to enjoy and celebrate their art.”
You can read the entire letter here:
To all individuals and organizations that are opposed to sharing lifesaving pandemic tech:
You do not represent us.
Access to Covid-19 vaccinations, treatment, testing, and monitoring is a key human rights crisis in this century. We salute global leaders who speak up to save lives. As Senator Bernie SandersPharmaceutical companies must save many lives before they can make a profit.
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of a global campaign, and despite pressureBig Pharma: In May, the U.S. entered discussions to share lifesaving technologies. We are horrified. major film, publishing, and music associationsThis was stopped by these groups. These groups discouraged America from sharing lifesaving treatment with other countries in need. false argumentsBased on copyright laws for our creative work. These groups are likely to lobby in our name to impede this critical process, upon which many of us depend for our livelihoods.
We join the following groups to support quick action for a World Trade Organization (WTO), waiver that allows sharing Covid-19-related healthcare technologies: a coalition of over 100 countries; the majority of House Democrats; frontline unions like National Nurses United and the Association of Flight Attendants – CWA and the American Federation of Teachers; as well as hundreds of internationally recognized organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and the ACLU.
Everyone must be able to access the knowledge and tools that will save lives due to Covid-19 as soon and as possible. These include vaccines and ventilators as well as medical technology, designs, information, and knowledge. Without an emergency waiver at the WTO of the intellectual property rights that block sharing these resources, many countries may not receive meaningful access to Covid-19 vaccines until as late as 2024—if at all. This is unacceptable. Before new, devastating variants of a deadly disease can be introduced, we need to share our knowledge and technology immediately.
Sharing lifesaving technology won’t harm actors, writers, and other creative professionals. It will save many people who live in different countries around the world and allow us to travel, perform, share our creative work with the rest of the world. It is absurd that some of the associations that claim to represent creators’ interests are instead fighting for Big Pharma. The proposed waiver text is clear. will not harm creators. The waiver did not target creators and the latest draft clarified that it was only for health products or technologies. The proposalOnly for the prevention, confinement, and treatment Covid-19, will intellectual property protections be waived. The waiver does NOT affect creative works like music, films, or books in any way. We support all four provisions regarding intellectual property that can help end the pandemic. Each provision is crucial to stop Covid-19. If the design and knowledge necessary to use patent rights are not shared, it is impossible to save lives by waiving them.
We stand with billions around the globe and demand that representatives of artist and creator associations cease lobbying efforts to weaken or delay the Covid-19 TRIPS Waiver at WTO.