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SCCR Explores Better Protection for BroadcastingOrganizations

Geneva, May 21, 2002
Press Updates UPD/2002/165

Measures to update the rights of broadcasting organizations, along with the question of protection for non-original databases, topped the agenda of a meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR). The talks were intensive, fruitful and characterized by an open dialogue between various stakeholders, including policy-makers, representatives of broadcasting organizations, and related industries, such as music and films. The meeting, which took place in Geneva from May 13 to 17, 2002, was attended by delegates from 77 member states, including the European Community, 8 intergovernmental organizations and 41 non-governmental organizations.

The Committee generally agreed on the need to define and clarify certain terms and definitions such as "broadcasting organizations," "broadcasting," "broadcasts," "transmissions," "rebroadcasts," "signal," "pre-broadcasts signals," "real-time streaming," and "web-casting" in view of the impact of new technologies and the need to balance the different interests of all stakeholders and those of the general public. Currently, the 1961 Rome Convention on the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations deals with the intellectual property rights of broadcasting organizations. The adoption in 1996 of the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) modernized and updated the standards applicable to the two first categories of rightholders but did not cover the rights of broadcasting organizations.

Rapid and unprecedented technological developments, however, have spawned new modes of transmission, from analogue to digital, and have generated an enormous range of new choices for consumers through hundreds of channels, some interactivity by viewers and new kinds of information and entertainment services provided by traditional broadcasters. At the same time, the Internet is fast becoming an alternative way of distributing content that is protected by copyright or related rights, for example through web-casting or streaming. These developments require that the scope and definition of protection for broadcasts be thoroughly reviewed and adapted to the operational realities of the 21st century. A growing signal piracy problem, particularly of pre-broadcast signals (i.e. signals transporting programs to broadcasters for simultaneous or deferred use), in many parts of the world has also generated a need to discuss the nature and scope of protection for broadcasts. A technical background paper (available at: https://www.wipo.int/news) prepared by the WIPO secretariat which describes technological changes affecting the activities of broadcasting organizations since 1961, was presented to the Committee to clarify many technical issues.

The SCCR will pursue these discussions at its next meeting in November 2002.

The Committee also discussed the protection of non-original databases. Collections of data, such as telephone directories, the compilation of which is not considered sufficiently original to qualify for copyright protection, may still require some protection because they can be very expensive to assemble, yet easy to copy and disseminate, for example, over the Internet. Five studies on the economic and social impact of such protection in developing countries and countries in transition, commissioned by the secretariat (and available at https://www.wipo.int/news), were considered by the Committee. The Committee will continue to examine this issue at its next session.

A seminar on the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT): Opportunities and Challenges, was held on the sidelines of the meeting. Experts from business circles, academia, and governmental and non-governmental organizations engaged in a fruitful exchange of views on the exciting opportunities offered by the Internet for creators, industry and consumers alike, as well as the challenges and problems raised. The participants also considered the impact of the Internet on government policy and the implementation of the two WIPO Internet treaties which came into force respectively on May 6, 2002 and May 20, 2002. The seminar was broadcast over the Internet and can be accessed at https://www.wipo.int/news.

For further information, please contact the Media Relations & Public Affairs Section at WIPO:

Tel: +4122-3388161/3389547;
Email: publicinf@wipo.int
Fax: +4122-3388810.