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Archived updates for Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Broadcasting Treaty Before WIPO Standing Committee on Copyrights

According to William New writing for Intellectual Property Watch, this week's meeting of WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyrights and Related Rights is off to a slow start in considering whether to recommend the full negotiation of the Draft Basic Proposal for the WIPO Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations.

Under the current draft of the so-called "Broadcasting Treaty," Broadcasting organizations shall enjoy the following exclusive rights for "signals used for transmissions . . . and not to works and other protected subject matter carried by such signals:"
  • fixation of their broadcasts (Fixation is defined as "the embodiment of sounds or of images or of images and sounds or of the representations thereof, from which they can be perceived, reproduced or communicated through a device." There are no conditions regarding the requisite permanence or stability of the embodiment.)
  • direct or indirect reproduction, in any manner or form, of fixations of their broadcasts.
  • transmission by any means for the reception by the public of their broadcasts following fixation of such broadcasts.
  • making available to the public of their broadcasts from fixations

The term of protection will extend 50 years from the end of the year in which the broadcast took place. Parties are also required to provide "adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective technological measures that are used by broadcasting organizations in connection with the exercise of their rights."

The treaty proposal also includes a "Non-Mandatory Appendix" that would extend these protections to "webcasting," defined as "the transmission by wire or wireless means over a computer network for the reception by the public, of sounds or of images or of images and sounds or of the representations thereof, by means of a program-carrying signal which is accessible for members of the public at substantially the same time."

"As currently drafted, the treaty would have a profound chilling effect on the free flow of information over the Internet," the U.S. Telecom Association reportedly said in a statement. The telcommunications industry group suggested changes to: limit the treaty to signal theft, delete the webcasting portion, permit transmissions within the home, and ensure intermediary carriers are not made liable.

Also reported to be coming out against the current draft was Intel Corporation, because "proponents have not demonstrated that the benefits of creating new exclusive rights outweigh the burdens that these new rights impose." The burdens that they reportedly cited include: control of mobile device and digital home innovation, technical protection measures, liability risk for software makers, device makers and Internet service providers, more complexity to the clearance process for using content, harm to copyright owners, and harm to the public interest.

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