“Marathon” WIPO Copyright Session Opens With Hopes, Treaty Prospects
By William New, Intellectual Property Watch on 22/11/2011 @ 1:00 pm
Officials from around the world have gathered for the next two weeks at the World Intellectual Property Organization in hopes of resolving the fate of several longstanding copyright policies under debate at the UN agency. The hope of many is that by the end of the copyright committee meeting starting yesterday, WIPO members will be on track to treaties or instruments on audiovisual performances, limitations and exceptions for print-disabled readers and for libraries and archives, and on broadcasters’ rights. And serious negotiations have already begun. [Update: new document added]
The WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is meeting from 21 November to 2 December. The documents for the meeting are here .
[Update: the first draft "List of common topics discussed by delegations" is available here [pdf].]
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry opened what he called a “marathon session” of the SCCR, encouraging members to continue to make progress on wrapping up the various issues on the table, so the committee can begin to move forward to other topical issues in global copyright, according to participants.
Opening statements from regional groups signalled the hopes for significant progress this week. Several notable statements are here: Group B  [pdf], African Group  [doc], Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries  [doc], and Asian Group  [doc].
A key issue opening the week is limitations and exceptions to copyright for libraries and archives, broadly viewed by developing countries as essential to their development as it encourages access to knowledge. African countries have been particularly interested in this approach. Proposals are circulating for ways to go forward on this issue, toward an international instrument. But there are differences emerging on what this instrument would look like.
The committee today decided to ask the secretariat to draft a composite of the various proposals, to be discussed this afternoon. Several delegations had suggested a “cluster” approach on the various proposals, according to participants.
The United States opened the second day with a new paper on “Objectives and Principles for Exceptions and Limitations for Libraries and Archives,” available here  [pdf]. Discussion ensued as other members sought to understand the document, but it appeared to differ from other proposals by being non-binding. The proposal appears to have the support of the Group B developed countries.
Developing countries recalled that the committee has previously committed to working on a text-based instrument. But the US said it is not decided whether any instrument will be legally binding or not, and the European Union argued that it was not agreed to move to drafting text on broader limitations and exceptions, and that presentations of national experiences and practices could be useful. The US suggested that its paper on objectives and principles is not intended to replace discussion of a text but rather to help clarify the issues.
This week, library associations from several countries are in attendance in significant numbers, and have submitted a “treaty proposal on limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives.” The text is intended to complement a proposal for limitations and exceptions by the African Group. Brazil presented a document for this meeting, SCCR/23/3, is entitled, “The Case for a Treaty on Exceptions and Limitations for Libraries and Archives: Background Paper by IFLA, ICA, EIFL and Innovarte.” This is being referred to as the Brazilian proposal. [Update: Brazil has stated to the plenary that this is a background document and not a proposal. Its proposed text comes in the proposal with Ecuador, below.]
Already on the table is the African Group proposal for a draft WIPO Treaty on Exceptions and Limitations for the Persons with Disabilities, Educational and Research Institutions, Libraries and Archives,” document SCCR/22/12.
Ecuador today attempted to move the discussion into detailed work on a text, and presented specific language to that effect, such as on permitting library lending. The Ecuadoran proposed text, along with Brazil and Uruguay, (in Spanish and English) is available here  [pdf].
The International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO), which represents collecting societies, is among the participants with greater representation this week. IFRRO Chief Executive and Secretary General Olav Stokkmo said it has been attending SCCR meeting for the past 15 years and collective licensing is more important today as a tool in forming solutions between rightholders and users of copyrighted material. In its statement to the committee, IFRRO said it acknowledges that libraries face challenges, which it said should be addressed through collaborative efforts. IFRRO would commit to participation in stakeholder dialogues to examine practical solutions to these issues, it said. The IFFRO statement is available here .
Print Disabilities Treaty
Another key issue at the meeting is a proposal for a treaty on limitations and exceptions for persons with print disabilities, which left off hopefully at the last SCCR meeting (IPW, WIPO, 24 June 2011 ).
The chair of the meeting, Manuel Guerra Zamarro, the director general of Mexico’s National Copyright Institute, prepared a “Proposal on an international instrument on limitations and exceptions for persons with print disabilities,” document SCCR/22/16.
A related working paper was issued last week by the Yale Law School Information Society Project (ISP) entitled, “Addressing the Proposed WIPO International Instrument on Limitations and Exceptions for Persons with Print Disabilities: Recommendation or Mandatory Treaty?” Authored by Margot Kaminski and Shlomit Yanisky-Ravid, the paper, here , argues for a legally binding treaty at WIPO.
Separately, Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, issued a statement before the meeting urged the SCCR “to work assiduously to agree a binding WIPO treaty for blind and other reading disabled disabled people.” The SCCR should act to remove the “copyright barriers which prevent access for reading disabled people,” he wrote.
Audiovisual, Broadcasting, Jamaican Rights
Also encompassed in the SCCR meeting will be preparatory work for a high-level negotiation (diplomatic conference) for an audiovisual performances treaty to take place next year (IPW, WIPO, 30 September 2011 ).
And there is hope among some that a longstanding issue of a treaty on broadcasters’ rights will be resolved. An informal consultation on this topic will take place over the coming weekend, and there are numerous documents related to this treaty proposal on the table for the committee.
The end of the first day of the meeting opened with a reception in the lobby of the new WIPO office building celebrating the work of two Jamaican artists to the upbeat sounds of live reggae music. When the singer gave a rendering of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song, WIPO officials might have been forgiven for believing the question of “How long will they steal our profits…” might have referred to copyright piracy. And at a reception full of copyright lawyers, questions abounded over whether works were properly licensed and who had the performance rights.
Article printed from Intellectual Property Watch: http://www.ip-watch.org
URL to article: http://www.ip-watch.org/2011/11/22/%e2%80%9cmarathon%e2%80%9d-wipo-copyright-session-opens-with-hopes-treaty-prospects/
URLs in this post:
 are here: http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/details.jsp?meeting_id=22210
 available here : http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/SCCR23-List-of-common-topics-first-draft.pdf
 Group B: http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/SCCR-23-Opening-Statement-Group-B.pdf
 African Group: http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/SCCR-23-Draft-African-Group-Opening-Statement.doc
 Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries: http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/GRULAC-statement-sccr23.docx
 Asian Group: http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Asian-group-Statement-SCCR-23.docx
 available here: http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/SCCR23-US-LE-Paper.pdf
 available here: http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/SCCR23-Brazil-Ecuador-Urug-Propl.pdf
 available here: http://www.ip-watch.orgwww.ifrro.org
 IPW, WIPO, 24 June 2011: http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2011/06/24/wipo-committee-sees-breakthrough-on-audiovisual-treaty-after-11-year-delay/
 here: http://http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1959694
 IPW, WIPO, 30 September 2011: http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2011/09/30/in-boost-to-multilateral-system-and-wipo-audiovisual-treaty-set-for-2012-completion/
 WIPO Copyright Committee Negotiating Texts Available: http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/07/23/wipo-copyright-committee-negotiating-texts-available/
 WIPO Copyright Committee Agrees To Extra Time On Visually Impaired Access: http://www.ip-watch.org/2010/11/15/wipo-copyright-committee-agrees-to-extra-time-on-visually-impaired-access/
 WIPO SCCR Constructs Library Exceptions Topics For Discussion: http://www.ip-watch.org/2011/11/23/wipo-sccr-constructs-library-exceptions-topics-for-discussion/