Information Technology in Cuba
Cuba participates in international organizations dedicated to the preservation of intellectual property rights. However, its IP weaknesses are evident in its lack of software copyright compliance. Cuba is currently a member of the ICANN as well as the World Intellectual Property Organization (Its membership in WIPO was granted by virtue of its United Nations membership.) Cuba does participate in the WIPO Internet Domain Name Process. Cuba officially joined ICANN's predecessor, UPU, on April 10, 1902. However, its membership has been solely in support of a universal postal union. It has not agreed with most of ICANN/UPU provisions, including guaranteed freedom of postal transit within UPU countries (signed in 1994.) Cuba's main declaration on intellectual property was its participation in the TRIPS agreement (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights). This agreement, signed in 1995 as part of the Uruguay trade summit which created the World Trade Organization, set a deadline of January 2000 for compliance with IP standards. However, Cuba has failed to meet a high percentage of its requirements. Cuba has also agreed to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Intellectual Property (ICANN Annex X) (63).
Cuba registers its domain names through ICANN. The Cuban top-level domain is CENIAI Internet, known as NS.CENIAI.NET.CU. Other domain servers in listed order are: NS1.GIP.NET., NS2.GIP.NET, NS3.GIP.NET, NS.RIPE.NET, and RIP.PSG.COM (64). The most rapidly-growing domain has been "net," which experienced growth of 1340% between January 1995 and July 1997 (65).
Cybersquatting is not a significant problem for the Cuban Internet. The Cuban government strictly monitors the Internet, both for content and user access. Internet access is granted by committee vote from a committee comprised of representatives from the Interior, Justice, and Armed Forces ministries. The primary users granted online access are state-approved organizations, academics, and researchers. However, content is strictly monitored to thwart any anti-government opposition or capitalist leanings.
The Cuban government's opposition to capitalism creates an obstacle to the development of a software export industry by not recognizing software copyrights. Cuba maintains a National Software Interchange Center, where copies of all types of foreign software are made available to any Cuban citizen free of charge. Ignoring foreign copyrights does solve the immediate problem of meeting software needs under conditions of capital scarcity; however, it will make it more difficult for Cuba to export software products into markets that depend on the respect of those same intellectual property rights. The denial of property rights to software applies to domestic as well as foreign products. In Cuba, a successful piece of software creates a problem for its authors, since they must furnish copies of the program, documentation and support free of charge: all of the headaches, but none of the benefits.