Negotiators Narrow Focus in Talks on a Broadcasting Treaty

Geneva, January 22, 2007

A key committee of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), acting on a mandate from the WIPO General Assembly, pushed ahead with negotiations on a treaty to update the protection of broadcasting organizations on a signal-based approach. The talks took place in the first of two special sessions of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) from January 17-19, 2007.

In October 2006, the General Assembly laid out a roadmap for the last leg of negotiations stating that two special sessions of the SCCR, the forum where formal negotiations have taken place, were to be held in 2007 "to clarify the outstanding issues." The General Assembly decision said that "the sessions of the SCCR should aim to agree and finalize, on a signal-based approach, the objectives, specific scope and object of protection with a view to submitting to the diplomatic conference a revised basic proposal, which will amend the agreed relevant parts of the Revised Draft Basic Proposal (document SCCR 15/2)." The second special session of the SCCR will be held in June 2007. The General Assembly also decided that a diplomatic conference would be held from November 19 to December 7, 2007 to conclude a treaty on the protection of broadcasting organizations, including cablecasting organizations, if agreement on new text was achieved during the special sessions.

The main objective of the treaty "is to serve as a stable legal framework for the activities of broadcasting organizations against piracy, but it also provides protection against competitors and against unfair exploitation, and against free-riding," said the Chair of the SCCR , Mr. Jukka Liedes.

At the first special session in January, the general approaches and the work plan were addressed. The Chair presented a number of informal proposals for discussion by member states which served to focus and narrow the protection toward a signal-based approach . New combined articles or texts on rights and protections reducing the range of exclusive rights to be granted to broadcasting organizations were discussed. The Committee agreed that a revised version of the Chair’s informal proposals would be prepared by May 1, 2007, with the understanding that member states may submit suggestions to the Chair.

"This is a very promising development as member states have established a clear process to address this issue in accordance with the mandate received from the General Assembly and demonstrated political will to conclude the negotiations," said Mr. Michael Keplinger, WIPO Deputy Director General who oversees WIPO’s work in the copyright field.

The discussions are confined to the protection of traditional broadcasting organizations and cablecasting. This followed a decision by the 14th session of the SCCR from 1 to 5 May, 2006, to examine questions of webcasting and simulcasting on a separate track at a later date.

Updating the IP rights of broadcasters, currently provided by the 1961 Rome Convention on the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations, began at WIPO in 1997. A growing signal piracy problem in many parts of the world, including piracy of digitized pre-broadcast signals, has made this need more acute.

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