WIPO Member states Make Significant Headway in Talks on Broadcasters' Rights
Geneva, June 10, 2004
Press Releases PR/2004/386
Member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) made significant progress towards updating international intellectual property standards for broadcasting in the information age. The Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), which met in Geneva from June 7 to 9, 2004, recommended that the WIPO General Assembly, the Organization's top decision-making body, consider convening a diplomatic conference on the protection of broadcasting organizations. A diplomatic conference is the final step in developing a new international treaty. Endorsement of the SCCR recommendation by the General Assembly at its September 2004 session would be a significant step forward in this process.
"We welcome the adoption by the SCCR of a resolution asking the WIPO General Assembly to consider convening a diplomatic conference at an appropriate time. This was possible because most member states are confident that differences on this important issue can be narrowed in a reasonable time frame, thus paving the way for the adoption of a new treaty that would update the rights of broadcasting organizations," said Mrs. Rita Hayes, Deputy Director General who oversees WIPO's work in the area of copyright.
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 in earnest 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.
Noting the cultural importance of the broadcasting sector in all countries, SCCR Chair Mr. Jukka Liedes of Finland stated that the SCCR session had "created a roadmap towards a new international instrument, the goal of which was to balance the real needs of broadcasters with those of other rightholders and society at large."
Differences remain on issues such as the scope of a new treaty and its beneficiaries, namely whether only traditional broadcasters should be protected or whether protection should also extend to cablecasters and webcasters, entities that transmit directly over the Internet. Different views were also expressed on the scope of rights to be granted. Some delegations supported limiting protection to rights necessary to fight signal piracy, to avoid overlap with content-based rights held by authors, performers or producers. Views also differed on the question of the term of protection of any new rights.
The next meeting of the Committee will take place from November 17 to 19, 2004, and will discuss a revised text containing brackets around proposals having obtained limited support, such as protection of webcasters. Based on its review of the new text, the November Committee meeting could recommend dates for the diplomatic conference.
The SCCR also considered the issue of protection of non-original databases. Collections of data, such as telephone directories, which are not sufficiently original to qualify for copyright, may still deserve protection for the significant investment in their creation and maintenance, and to avoid unauthorized copying and dissemination, for example, over the Internet. The Committee decided to revisit the matter in the second half of 2005.
The SCCR was attended by delegates from 90 member states, and 8 intergovernmental and 55 non-governmental organizations, including policy-makers, representatives of broadcasting organizations and the content industries (such as film and music), users and consumer organizations.
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