WIPO Copyright Committee Opens With Ideas, Questions On Internet, Terms Of Protection 28/05/2018 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 3 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)This week’s meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization copyright committee opened today with what officials perceived as good momentum. Argentina tabled a proposal to help discussions on deferred transmissions in the context of a potential treaty protecting broadcasting organisations, which have been a sticking point in negotiations. Civil society, however, voiced concerns on the provisions of a potential treaty protecting broadcasters against signal piracy, underlining the 50-year envisioned protection and the need to carve out strong limitations and exceptions. WIPO Director Francis Gurry addresses the Copyright Committee today The 36th session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is taking place from 28 May to 1 June. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, delivering some remarks in the afternoon, underlined the momentum gathering in the committee. In particular he said it is “extremely pleasing” to see the new items that are coming from delegations. He referred to proposals by some countries to discuss copyright in the digital space, the resale right, and rights of theatre director, all in the agenda of the week. A prominent long-standing item of the agenda [pdf] is a discussion on a potential new treaty protecting broadcasting organisations against signal piracy. The negotiations on that issue has been spanning over 20 years and as technology makes big strides, new issues and realities have brought dimensions that countries have a difficult time knowing how to address, such as internet-related questions. The SCCR will also discuss limitations and exceptions to copyright for libraries, archives, educational and research institutions, and people with other disabilities than visual impairment this week. Classifying Types of Deferred Transmissions Earlier this month, Argentina submitted a note [pdf] on the draft treaty to protect broadcasting organisations. Presenting the proposal this afternoon, the Argentinean delegate stressed the fact that the proposal would only concern broadcasting organisations, and further explained that broadcasting organisations are the ones preparing the signal with different kinds of content, whether it is copyrighted or not. The signal, not the content, is the object of protection, the delegate said. The proposal seeks to address the issues met by broadcasters that make transmissions which are not live, he said. Those deferred transmissions can be of the same initial programming, or of further footage, and behind-the-scenes programmes, he explained, adding that there can also be radio or televison channels exclusively on-demand. Platforms such as Netflix or YouTube would not be able to benefit from this protection for on-demand transmission, he said, since they are not broadcasting organisations. The note particularly focuses on deferred transmissions, which is one of the pending core issues in committee. According to the note, it is essential for the future treaty to provide protection for deferred transmissions, “given the importance that such transmissions have acquired in recent years.” The protection afforded to deferred transmission must depend on their types, the note says, suggesting to classify deferred transmissions into three categories: equivalent deferred transmissions, closely-related deferred transmissions, and unrelated deferred transmissions. According to the note, equivalent deferred transmissions are available for up to a limited number of weeks or months after a live broadcast, such as on-demand catch-up services. Closely-related deferred transmissions are those that are broadcast only online, supporting offline broadcasts and available for up to a limited number of weeks or months, such as parellel sport events, extra footage, previews, or additional interviews, the document says. Unrelated deferred transmissions, according to the document, are broadcast only online, but not in support of a live offline broadcast, such as pure on-demand streaming channels, or which may be accessed by the public without time limitation. Schedule for the Week At the outset of the weeklong meeting, a rough schedule was set out for the agenda that included a focus on the broadcasting treaty from Monday to Wednesday, moving to closed informal session on Monday afternoon, and possibly reporting to plenary on progress at the end of the informals. Wednesday and Thursday were anticipated to focus on the two types of limitations and exceptions under discussion, those for libraries and archives, and those for educational and research institutions and for persons with other disabilities. Friday morning would look at “Other matters” including a proposal for analysis of copyright related to the digital environment, a proposal to include resale right on the SCCR agenda, and a proposal to strengthen protection of theatre directors’ rights. The final afternoon would be spent reviewing the chair’s summary and drafting recommendations for the annual General Assembly in late September to early October. 50 Years Of Protection a Mockery, Say NGOs Today a group of 11 civil society groups voiced strong concerns against the proposed treaty to protect broadcasting organisations. In a common letter [pdf], they said a number of issues and core concerns from civil society and copyright holders have not been addressed. They support measures to fight piracy of broadcast signals and address the “legitimate concerns of broadcasters,” they said. However, according to the letter, issues such as the term of protection, limitations and exceptions, public domain works, streaming on demand, and the role of large internet companies in streaming video are not clear and need addressing. In particular, the co-signatories found that the protection term of 50 years suggested in the text [pdf] of SCCR Chair Daren Tang (Singapore) implies the broadcasters will obtain post fixation rights in works they did not create nor licence. “A 50 year term of protection makes a mockery of the notion that this is a signal based treaty or is only concerned with signal piracy, as it effectively extends the protection beyond the term of copyright, and is a recipe for disaster as regards orphan works,” they said. To protect against signal piracy, they say, “a short term of 24 hours would make more sense than 5 decades from the date of every broadcast.” Given this long protection term, the letter underlines the need for strong limitations and exceptions. The letter also points to the fact that the treaty is likely to benefit large internet corporations rather than local broadcasters, which seems to be the aim for many delegations. In the long term, “the treaty appears to be creating a new legal regime that will create rights for the giant technology firms largely based in the United States, that are creating global platforms for video and sound recording content, including Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Google/YouTube Tv, Yahoo, Twitter, Sling TV, Facebook, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, and Pandora.” All those companies could be considered as broadcasters by owning a single broadcast station, they said. In their opening statement, the Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) called for limitations and exceptions for libraries so they can have continued legal access to the underlying content of broadcast transmissions. The Center for Internet and Society (India) said there is no rationale or justifications to grant a 50 year term of protection to broadcast. William New contributed to this report. 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