Thursday, January 18, 2007

WIPO attempt to finalise broadcasting treaty

James Love is in Geneva watching developments at the World Intellectual Proerty Organisation as they try to finalise negotiations over the proposed broadcasting treaty.

"One faction in the negotiations wants to revamp provisions in a 1962 treaty (one that the United States and 80 other countries never signed), with new or expanded intellectual property rights for anyone who "broadcasts" third party content. Relying upon the current 108 page draft of the treaty, they propose that anyone who qualifies as a "broadcaster" or "cablecaster" would get a set of exclusive rights to prevent others from re-publishing or using the information, including on the Internet, without permission from the broadcaster or cablecaster. This right would be in addition to the rights and permissions (if any) associated with the copyright in the work, and would apply even to works that are in the public domain, or where the copyright owner was willing to freely distribute the work. It would create an entirely new set of liability problems for companies that aggregate third party content, a fact that lawyers for Yahoo and News Corp (treaty supporters) have apparently not explained to their CEOs...

Opposing this scenario are a growing group of countries that want the treaty to take a much narrower approach, only prohibiting the "theft" of programing signals, but not extending an intellectual property right in other people's copyrighted works. The problem is, no one can explain why such protection is needed, since it is already illegal to steal cable or satellite service under many existing laws, including existing copyright laws."

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