WIPO Copyright Committee To Meet After Year-Long Hiatus 16/11/2005 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a 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 last time the UN World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) copyright committee met it ended in acrimony, with still-bitter memories for some member governments who argued their objections to the outcome were wrongly ignored. But after a year and numerous regional consultations, many participants are looking ahead to an agenda laden with important policy items to be addressed at the next meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyrights and Related Rights (SCCR), to be held on 21 to 23 November in Geneva. Agenda items include a discussion of a Chilean proposal on exceptions and limitations to rights for the purposes of education, libraries and disabled persons; a study on member states’ voluntary copyright registration systems; the possibility of a new form of protection for data collections; and a proposed treaty on the protection of broadcasting organisations. Carole Croella, counsellor in the WIPO copyright law division, said a decision to put the issue on the agenda was made in the November 2004 meeting. The meeting opens with an “information meeting on educational content and copyright in the digital age.” Presentations will be made by representatives of the Commonwealth of Learning, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, the International Publishers Association, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers, the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations, Creative Commons, Open Publishing, and WIPO member governments. According to Croella, the information meeting is intended to “provide an overview of the present situation regarding the provision of educational materials in digital form taking into account the main interests at stake.” The presentations will “contribute to a better understanding” of the key aspects of the operation of the copyright system relating to education, especially in developing countries. On voluntary copyright registration systems, Croella said there would be a “point of information” on a study done by the WIPO secretariat in co-operation with member states. The study will be available at the meeting. A questionnaire on voluntary registration systems was circulated to 14 WIPO members with such systems. Replies have come back from 12: Argentina, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, Spain and the United States. The database protection issue has not been discussed since the June 2004 SCCR, when it was removed at the request of several countries. The issue is whether to create international protection for collections of data that are not protected under copyright law, but which “may still deserve protection for the significant investment in their creation and maintenance, and to avoid unauthorised copying and dissemination, for example, over the Internet,” Croella said. Databases are essential for online services for news and information, health care, tourism services, shopping, betting, games, film and music, she said. Proponents include database producers, publishers and several developed countries including the European Union, which adopted a community directive on database protection in 1996. Items To Watch: Broadcasters’ Rights and Committee Procedures Broadcasting protection treaty negotiations were not agreed to in the October WIPO General Assembly, but the members there agreed to keep talking about it. The process is to discuss the issue in two SCCR meetings “to accelerate discussions” on draft texts developed since the last committee meeting, held in November 2004. As directed by the assembly, the committee will discuss the draft consolidated text (SCCR/12/2 Rev. 2) and a US proposal (SCCR/12/5 Prov) on webcasting and simulcasting (simultaneous Internet streaming of a broadcast), with the “aim to agree and finalise a basic proposal for a treaty … in order to enable the 2006 WIPO General Assembly to recommend the convening of a diplomatic conference in December 2006 or at an appropriate date in 2007.” A diplomatic conference is a high-level negotiation. Key sticking points in the broadcasting text include the length of time the rights should apply, ranging from 20 to 50 years, as well as which rights to grant to broadcasters, according to sources. Many countries have shown a willingness to begin negotiations, while others strongly oppose it. Proponents of a treaty argue that broadcasters’ rights have not been updated for decades to account for technological innovations. Opponents fear additional protection would reduce access to works in the public domain or give new and unnecessary rights to broadcasters at the expense of others. The webcasting proposal has been soundly opposed by nearly all member states to date. At the last meeting of the SCCR in November 2004, the chairman’s conclusion suggesting consensus on proceeding with the talks was strongly contested by several member governments who said their objection to the characterisation of the outcome was improperly overruled. Typically there are two SCCR meetings between general assemblies, but no other formal meeting has been held before now. The chairman’s conclusion called for the second revised version of the text and the working paper on webcasting. These papers were based on the discussions in the disputed 2004 meeting, and provided the basis for a series of consensus-building regional meetings WIPO held during the course of 2005. WIPO took the discussions to the regions, ostensibly at the request of member governments. There were seven invitation-only informal consultations that have been praised by some members as helpful and by others as lacking transparency and inclusiveness. WIPO’s report on the first six consultations (the seventh was with the Group B industrialised countries, some of whom also attended earlier regional meetings) stated that 75 of the 182 WIPO members had attended the meetings. WIPO said conclusions were adopted at the meetings that called for a diplomatic conference as soon as possible. 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