Texts On Broadcasting, Copyright Education Exceptions, Metamorphise At WIPO

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Members of the World Intellectual Property Organization copyright committee today received a large compilation text of proposals on limitations and exceptions for education and research, and promptly set about totally reworking it. They also reopened negotiations on a broadcasters’ rights treaty based on a new comparative table of proposals which they quickly deemed in need of redrafting.

On broadcasting, the United States sought to clarify the scope of the committee’s mandate related to the internet in response to concerns expressed by some delegations [corrected].

The 24th WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is meeting from 16-25 July.

This morning, delegates discussed the new document on education and research, and in the afternoon they discussed broadcasting. This evening, simultaneous informal meetings were being held among regional coordinators plus a few countries on the education and research issue, as well as a proposed treaty for print-disabled and other visually impaired people.

Tomorrow morning, the education issue is expected to be on the floor again, as it was for the first two-and-a-half days. It will be followed in the afternoon by the first appearance on the floor of the print-disabled treaty.

On Saturday morning, an informal meeting will be held on the broadcasting treaty, and it is expected to come to floor again on Monday.

The goal of the committee is to bring each text – including also a possible treaty on limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives – as close to completion as possible by meeting’s end.

The print-disabled and broadcasting treaties, in particular, are being eyed for possible recommendations to the annual WIPO General Assembly in October to call a diplomatic conference (a high-level treaty negotiation) in 2013.

Both of these draft treaties were addressed at the last SCCR in December 2011 (IPW, WIPO, 5 December 2011).

Compilation on Education/Research

The compilation text circulated today by the secretariat, available here, searchable version here [both pdf, note: last 2 pages of comments missing for technical reasons], likely will be changed by tomorrow. The committee chair asked for a small group to work to “rationalise” the document, and restructure it.

Members appear to be seeking substantive reductions and other changes before detailed discussions can move forward. There are suggestions to rearrange text under fewer and more specific headlines, reduce duplication, or remove items that may be beyond the scope of the subject.

Many countries called for the separation of the section at the end containing comments and views, from the rest of the text which is taking the shape of provisions of a legal instrument. Group B developed countries prefer to keep the commentary in the same text, they said, citing the previously negotiated parallel text on libraries and archives as an example.

Prof. Ruth Okediji, a US law professor who is on the Nigerian delegation, told the plenary that education in developing countries is not the same as in developed countries, as it happens “in a diversity of fora.” Therefore, the exceptions should be broad enough to allow access for educational purposes.

Broadcasting

On broadcasting, today a new comparative table document, available here [pdf], was delivered by the secretariat today.

It sets out the existing proposals from Japan (SCCR/24/3), South Africa and Mexico together (SCCR/24/5), and an earlier South Africa and Mexico (SCCR/23/6), along with past comments from various delegations.

A number of countries asked that there be one single text from which to work, indicating that proponents should work it out and come back.

There was a return of an earlier debate about whether a broadcasting treaty should include transmissions over the internet. Countries have previously stated that the treaty should cover traditional broadcasting. Today, the United States said that in this day and age the treaty would not be worth negotiating if it did not protect against internet piracy [paragraph corrected].

“In our view, a treaty that does not provide protection against signal theft using new forms of technology would not be worth concluding in the 21st century,” Shira Perlmutter, the new US Patent and Trademark Office international director, told the plenary. Any treaty should be technologically neutral, she said.

This question is different asking which entities are covered by the treaty, she said. “The latter is an issue of subject matter protection while the former is an issue of scope of rights. Those delegates that are not yet ready to go beyond protection for traditional broadcasters may nevertheless find it important to protect their traditional broadcasters against unscrupulous actors who stream their signal over the internet.”

William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

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