Thursday, June 14, 2007

WIPO Broadcasting Treaty - June 18-22, 2007 in Geneva

The WIPO Broadcasting Treaty discussions resume next week (June 18-22, 2007) in Geneva.

The latest WIPO “non-paper” draft treaty is here.

Despite concern of a number of very influential countries that the previous versions of the draft treaty created unnecessary exclusive rights and that the exercise should be reigned in so as to be addressed only at signal theft, this draft would still create an exclusive retransmission right and “deferred” transmission right, whatever that may mean (i.e. how long is “deferred?) . (Article 7)

It would also create tough DRM/TPM provisions that could effectively lock up the underlying content, even if the content is in the public domain. (Article 9)

The draft does allow for limitations and exceptions consistent with the three step test approach. However, it seems unclear or even unlikely to me that such limitations and exceptions could avail against the DRM/TPM regime that would be expected.

We all look forward to seeing what position Canada will publicly take. In the past, Canada has questioned an exclusive retransmission right - and if Canada maintains this position, there’s not a lot left in this draft that Canada could support. An exclusive retransmission right would mean that many border stations that are now retransmitted “free” on cable could collect royalties worth potentially a very large amount of money. The CRTC has recently rejected the demands of domestic broadcasters for payments (“fee for carriage”) for retransmission of their basic over the air channels.

Canadian retransmitters oppose the exclusive retransmission right and Canadian broadcasters are said to be currently somewhat divided in their support.

At the Copyright Right Society of the USA meeting earlier this week, US Register of Copyrights, the Hon. Marybeth Peters, indicated that she didn’t think that much progress had been made in narrowing this effort down to a purely signal theft based treaty. While I don’t recall her exact words, I got the impression she didn’t think that enough progress had been made to hold a diplomatic conference later this year. If her view is in harmony with the US negotiators in Geneva, this would suggest that the US Government may oppose a diplomatic conference for later this year - unless there is a major breakthrough next week.

The best critical discussions of which I am aware and collection of documents are found at Jamie Love’s CPTECH site and that of the EFF and IP Justice. CPTECH also has a blog on this, which may heat up next week.


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