WIPO Members Conclude Year Positively With Copyright Committee, Despite No Changes To Text 14/12/2014 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments 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’s last committee meeting of the year finished on an amiable note last week. The committee on copyright did not advance on text drafting but, according to the chair and a number of delegations, the weeklong meeting was an opportunity for extensive discussions on substance, the best in a long time. The WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) met from 8-12 December. The first part of the week was dedicated to a potential treaty protecting IP rights of broadcasting organisations. The second part of the week addressed exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives, and for education, research and people with disabilities other than visual impairment. On broadcasting, delegates mainly kept to informal discussions on three informal technical documents on concepts, object of protection, and rights to be granted to broadcasters (IPW, WIPO, 10 December 2014). SCCR Chair Martin Moscoso said on 11 December that more work is needed on those concepts, as views are still divergent. The informal discussions revealed the need for some technical expertise, he said. Acknowledging this, the summary by the chair [pdf] issued at the end of the session on 12 December states that “the Committee agreed that technical experts, with emphasis on experts from developing and least-developed countries, will be invited for a half-day information session” at the next session of the SCCR. Moscoso also remarked on 11 December that during the informal discussions, the importance of including flexibility in the treaty was stressed so that countries might implement it through related rights, or some other type of legislative framework. For example, according to sources, some countries do not cover broadcasting and cablecasting organisations in the same manner and in some of those countries, the cablecasting organisations do not benefit from copyright or any IP rights. For those countries, the inclusion of cablecasting organisations in the potential treaty is problematic. A request was made in informal consultations, Moscoso said on 11 December, to update two previous studies. One of the studies is a technical background paper [pdf] prepared by the secretariat in 2002, entitled, “Protection of Broadcasting Organizations.” The other study [pdf] was undertaken in 2010 “on the Socio Economic Dimension of the Unauthorized Use of Signals: Current Market and Technology Trends in the Broadcasting Sector.” The summary by the chair indicates that the aim is to present the results of that study and provide opportunities for technical discussion at the next SCCR session. However, Moscoso said it has been requested that such studies “should be done in a way that is contributing to the process and not putting additional obstacles to the process.” The summary by the chair was noted by the SCCR after a number of delegations asked for modifications, most of which were declined by Moscoso, as he remarked that this was his summary and contained only factual, neutral information, just to be noted by the committee. In the corridors, the tone was moderate. Several delegations said although substantial discussions had been useful, positions remained unchanged and some of them said underlying the lack of real progress on textual drafting are political issues, and notably around the issue of limitations and exceptions, to which most developed countries oppose a binding international instrument. NGOs Concerned Knowledge Ecology International said the current “technical documents” indicate that services such as iTunes or Amazon or Netflix, or streaming services, could benefit from protection from the treaty if they are able to show that the content was sent over a cable television station, a satellite, a TV, or a radio to somebody, somewhere on the planet, at least once. “It is like giving a property right to a bookstore because they sell a book,” he said. “It is a pretty frightening instrument that you are designing here,” he added. He asked that the technical documents be made public so the public at large understands the conversation about something that affects the internet and these new technologies. The Computer and Communications Computer Association concurred and added that a broadcast signal ceases to exist upon reception of the live signal by any device capable of either retransmitting it or making it perceivable to a natural person. The representative suggested to make clear that protection is not going to be extended to fictional objects, such as any kind of a fixed signal. A group called Latin Artis said broadcasting companies should not have any exclusive right for any of the signal stream. If a treaty is agreed upon, the representative said, it should be understood that all broadcasting companies wanting to benefit from the treaty have to respect the rights of the content they are exploiting. Exceptions and Limitations for Libraries and Archives The part of the agenda devoted on limitations and exceptions opened with a presentation by copyright attorney and former professor Kenneth Crews of an updated study on copyright limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives. The study [pdf] was unanimously hailed by delegates for its quality and led to a discussion on copyright law that spanned a full day. The study is an update of a previous study Crews did in 2008 on the same subject (IPW, WIPO, 12 December 2014). According to the chair’s summary, the secretariat is to prepare “a document combining both study documents and reflect the additional information on national library and archive limitations and exceptions provided by delegations.” And the secretariat is expected to provide the section of the meeting report including the record of the presentation by Crews, and discussion among member states and observers. Proposals, New Document On 11 December, the United States further presented its proposal [pdf] for “Objectives and Principles for Exceptions and Limitations for Libraries and Archives.” The United States has said, as have a number of developed countries, that it is not supportive of an international binding instrument providing exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives. Rather, it is in favour of sharing experiences of best practices to help countries incorporate exceptions and limitations in their own legislation. The US also said this week that individual countries should have the flexibility to address their own needs on the matter without the constraints of international obligations. Brazil introduced a new document, which is the consolidation of proposed texts contained in the current working document [pdf] on exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives. This consolidated document was prepared by the African Group, Brazil, Ecuador, India and Uruguay. It was meant to consolidate the proposed text by the African Group, Brazil, Uruguay and India. The structure of the working document has been maintained, said the Brazilian delegate, as well as the number of topics and their title. Kenya for the African Group added that the changes introduced by the digital world in the activities of libraries and their challenge “will not go away” and need to be addressed. At the last session of the SCCR, those countries proposed that the secretariat work on that compilation, but that was opposed by some developed countries (IPW, WIPO, 7 July 2014). On 12 December, Moscoso proposed to adopt a methodology based on a non-paper he circulated on exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives, which was strictly forbidden to be made public. The non-paper presents a chart laying out topics, and the conclusions already adopted on those topics by the SCCR on past sessions. Topics include: preservation, library lending, parallel importations, cross-border uses, orphan works, and limitations on liability of libraries and archives. The discussions based on the non-paper would aim at reaching a common understanding, he said. Most delegations asked for time to consider the non-paper and come back with comments at the next session of the committee. On exceptions and limitations for education, research and people with disabilities other than visual impairment, the United States further presented its proposal [pdf] for “Objectives and Principles for Exceptions and Limitations for Educational, Teaching, and Research Institutions.” Much as for exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives, developed countries generally consider that the existing copyright systems in place in many countries already provide sufficient exceptions and limitations, and there is no need for an international instrument. They also underline the importance of flexibility for WIPO members to shape their own copyright laws. The European Union said it is “not considering” work leading to a legally binding instrument in this area in the SCCR. The African Group expressed “deep concern on the inability of this committee to advance discussions on the topic of exceptions and limitations for education, research institutions, and persons with other disabilities.” Kenya, on behalf of the African Group, underlined the time allocation, saying it is unfavourable to the topic of exceptions and limitations. India, on behalf of the Asia and Pacific Group, underlined the lack of resources to meet individual needs and the “continuously widening digital divide,” and the fact that the Asia and Pacific region has the largest number of disabled persons in the world. “We look forward to the compassionate understanding of all member states,” the delegate said, as nations need help from a multilateral level to build their own legislation. Leer: We Need Tangible Decisions Ann Leer, the WIPO deputy director general for the culture and creative industries sector, said at the close of the meeting that her expectations are “sky high, and they are going to remain sky high because we mustn’t miss the boat.” “We have to move beyond chair’s summary, into action,” she said. She prompted delegates to do their homework. “The last thing I want to see is that nothing happens between the end of this session and the next session in June,” she said. The chair’s summary is not enough, she insisted. “We do need some real tangible decisions. Otherwise, the technical world is going to move and run away, and we are going to be left behind, with multilateral legal frameworks which are out of date, which do not accommodate the new world.” The next session of the SCCR is expected to take place from 29 June to 3 July. Image Credits: FLickr – Timetrax 23 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 firstname.lastname@example.org."WIPO Members Conclude Year Positively With Copyright Committee, Despite No Changes To Text" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.