WIPO Copyright Committee Opens With Debate Over Broadcasting Treaty 02/07/2014 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The World Intellectual Property Organization copyright committeebegan a week of discussions with delegates trying to decide what rights the treaty protecting broadcasting organisations should confer and if it should include internet transmissions. At the outset, a proposal to include industry “experts” into informal consultations to answer technical questions was challenged by several countries. And limitations and exceptions to copyright are coming up for discussion next. A series of consultations were held prior to this week’s 28th session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) to agree on the work programme for the week, as no conclusions could be agreed at the last session (IPW, WIPO, 5 May 2014). Delegates agreed to work for the first two and a half days on broadcasting and the remainder of the week on the second topic of the SCCR, limitations and exceptions to copyright for libraries and archives, and for education, research and people with other disabilities than visual impairment. In order to address significant differences, the meeting was moved to informals on the first afternoon and remained there until the third day. The last SCCR meeting’s conclusions [pdf] by Chair Martin Moscoso, which were not approved, included a mention that some delegations had requested further clarification of technical issues at this session of the SCCR. Moscoso proposed informal discussions to address the main issues on broadcasting, with regional coordinators plus six of their member countries. He also suggested that three technical experts belonging to the broadcasting industry be included in such discussions to provide technical assistance and answer specific questions, in particular on the different technical platforms used by broadcasting organisations. The three proposed experts belonged to broadcasting organisations from Asia, Brazil and North America. A number of countries, although saying that technical assistance would be useful, challenged the process of including private sector stakeholders without the prior approval of member states. Uruguay, for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC),said during the informal meetings prior to the session that such an eventuality was discussed but not approved. Moscoso then noted the “legitimate” transparency concerns of GRULAC and some other countries, and stated that the three proposed experts would remain available outside of the room in which informal discussions are held, to respond to specific technical questions. He also said the consultation would not be limited to those three experts. The Football Model WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said the current FIFA World Cup was a “perfect” example of the economic and social importance of broadcasting. “How is it [World Cup] capturing the attention of the whole world?” he asked. “Because you are all watching the broadcasts!” “From our technical point of view as copyright specialists,” he said, “we are all concerned that this is the last component of the international legal framework that has not been updated for the digital environment.” The challenge, he said, is to develop a shared understanding among member states on how best to address the needs and issues faced by broadcasting organisations in the digital age. Limitations/Exceptions Still Show Dividing Line Positions of regional groups were reaffirmed on the first day in opening statements with developing countries insisting on the importance of limitations and exceptions to copyright and developed countries reiterating that the current international copyright system provides answers to the issue. Bangladesh, speaking for the Asia and Pacific Group said, “the advancement of science and digital technology had quite transformed the mode and means of information but not all the countries are benefitting from this development in the same way.” “Due to lack of resources to meet individual needs and the prevalent digital divide, libraries, archives and other educational and research institutions are the only means to impart education and to preserve history for the members of our group,” he said, underlining the importance of limitations and exceptions. The African Group talked about new technologies, such as the Kindle and e-books. “The uptake of the technology is rising fast and as its popularity increases libraries and a archives will be forced to embrace it too,” said Kenya on behalf of the group. “These changes are challenging how libraries and archives conduct their work as the copyright system as it stands now only provides flexibilities in the traditional formats,” he said. “How will libraries and archives for example preserve an eBook, or for that matter an eBook offered through a technological medium like the Kindle?” he asked. “How will libraries conduct cross border exchanges of eBooks and Kindle copies?” he went on. Although those are changes for the better, he said, they “present challenges for libraries and archives in performing their functions, as the copyright system as it is currently designed is not sufficient to enable these new changes to be accommodated without infringing on the law.” The European Union said “the current international copyright framework already provides for sufficient legal space for member states of WIPO to devise, adopt and implement meaningful limitations and exceptions (in an analogue and digital context), while respecting the necessary balance to ensure that copyright continues to be an incentive and a reward to creativity.” GRULAC also underlined the importance of limitations and exceptions, and said they were in favour of an international legal instrument. US Advocates for Narrow Treaty The US delegate said the best way forward to finding consensus on the broadcasting issue “is to focus on a narrow treaty based on the core needs of broadcasters for protection from signal piracy.” The proposed approach, she said, is a single right to authorise the simultaneous or near-simultaneous transmission of signal to the public over any medium. This approach could permit cutting through the long-standing divergence in proposals and achieving an international agreement. The approach “recognises the importance of the new technologies that are used for engaging in signal piracy.” It also addresses concerns that have been voiced at the SCCR, such as concerns about a new layer of protection being created for the content that is being broadcast. “It is clear that the right would be limited to the protection of the signal and not to the content contained in the fixation of the broadcast,” the US delegate specified. “It would also avoid interference with the rights of the rights holders of the content that is broadcast and would avoid any impact on consumers who are engaged in private activities such as home copying,” she said, adding that “many other delegations” had expressed interest in this approach. WIPO Launches Accessible Books Consortium At a side event last night, WIPO launched its Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), which is a multi-stakeholder initiative including representatives of the print disabled and rights holders (IPW, WIPO, 4 March 2014). The initiative provides technical assistance to help developing and least-developed countries to produce and distribute books in accessible formats, and promotes technologies and industry standards supporting “born accessible” publishing, according to the WIPO website. This inclusive publishing seeks to promote the production of books simultaneously for sighted and visually disabled people. The International Publishers Association (IPA) issued a statement of support for the WIPO initiative. In a release, IPA Secretary General Jens Bammel said the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled “would affect only a small proportion of readers and titles,” as some 80 percent of the global population speaks a language in which accessible books are unavailable. He said effective collaboration between all stakeholders has been lacking, and the ABC “will ensure that all partners work together to develop the capacity to make accessible books.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."WIPO Copyright Committee Opens With Debate Over Broadcasting Treaty" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.