A couple of days ago the National Academy of Sciences hosted a debate on the WIPO Broadcast Treaty. Unfortunately there was only a small audience.
"First up was Jen Urban of the USC law school, who gave a terrific presentation detailing her concerns with the treaty and how it would not provide for the exemptions and exclusions under copyright law. She also talked about how, since webcasting was not necessarily limited to video, that data could be protected under the treaty, in contravention of this country’s law banning the protection of facts. Jen was followed by an equally excellent presentation by Mike Nelson of IBM, speaking for the Internet Society, who gave a primer on how the Internet and distributed computing work. Mike also talked about how extending broadcaster rights to webcasters would raise a myriad of problems, such as the fact that anybody who sends streaming video over the Internet would be considered a webcaster under treaty. His thesis was that broadcasting and webcasting are different, and regardless of the substance of the treaty, should not be treated the same. Wrapping up was the International uber-advocate Jamie Love of the Consumer Project on Technology, who reiterated the lack of need for the treaty and that it was not accomplishing its intended purpose – signal theft protection. He also chided WIPO for always defaulting to increasing protection, even where it has not been shown to benefit creators or the public, particularly in third world countries. He argued that WIPO has other more pressing matters before it, including the development agenda, which seeks to develop IP policies that help, rather than hinder developing countries."