Friday, October 31, 2008

WIPO SCCR Meeting Geneva November 3-7, 2008

The WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) will be meeting next week in Geneva. It gets together typically about twice a year. The agenda and documents are available here.

The Chairman of this Committee for the past many years has been Jukka Liedes of Finland, who has invested much effort in trying for about a decade to get through a Broadcasters' Rights Treaty at WIPO - for which there is little consensus but which is still on the agenda.

He summarizes the latest state of play as this in his "informal paper", which is presumably somewhat more formal than his many previous "non-papers."

• The following two options arise from the assessment above in this informal paper:

A – A continuation of the process

- Another try could still be suggested on the basis of the document SCCR/15/2 rev.

- In addition, discussions could be based on informal papers.

- This endeavor should be open, inclusive and flexible.

- In the end, there could be an understanding that a new treaty might be established by a clear majority.

B – A possible new avenue

- A model based roughly on Articles 2 and 3 of the Geneva Phonograms Convention of 1971 could be envisaged; similar to that of the Brussels Satellite Convention.

- That model is different from those included so far in the working documents of the SCCR.

- That model could achieve the main objective of an international protection and the prevention of signal theft.

- To provide the delegations with an idea of the structure of such an option, its core provisions might be as follows:

“The Contracting Parties shall protect broadcasting and cablecasting organizations, who are nationals of other Contracting Parties, against unauthorized acts, including:

- retransmission

- fixation

- [other acts that might be agreed on].

The means by which this Treaty is implemented shall be a matter for the domestic law of each Contracting Party. The means shall be adequate and effective, and shall include one or more of the following:

- protection by means of copyright, rights related to copyright, or other specific rights;

- protection by means of the law relating to unfair competition or misappropriation;

- protection by means of administrative legislation or penal sanctions.”

• Finally, if after consideration of the options above (A/B) and possible other options, it will not in the present situation be possible to decide on the establishment of a new treaty, the SCCR should end these discussions through an express decision in order to avoid further spending of time, energy and resources to no avail. Such a decision could include a timetable for later revisiting and reconsidering the matter.

There are other perhaps more urgent and important issues on the table, such as limitations and exceptions. Moreover, various spokespersons for the blind are pushing hard to get WIPO to do something specific in their interest. See, for example, this initiative from Canada's own CNIB.

William New of IP-Watch provides more information here.

Under the new leadership of its new Director General, Francis Gurry, WIPO can potentially accomplish a great deal that could benefit many if not most sectors and countries that are concerned about IP. Let us hope that the SCCR can move beyond the largely unproductive past decade into areas where work should be done and positive progress seem more likely.

The Canadian position(s) going into this meeting are not known.


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