Statement of KEI to the 2012 WIPO General Assembly: Agenda item 26: Report on the work of the SCCR

4 October 2012
Agenda item 26: Report on the Work of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR)
Statement of Knowledge Ecology International
WIPO General Assembly 2012

KEI is dismayed to hear so many governments call for a new treaty for the protection of broadcasting organizations. At the SCCR, we have yet to hear a cogent explanation of the problem the treaty is supposed to solve, or how it will work. We have asked the US government and other countries to explain what piracy problem the broadcaster treaty is expected to solve that can’t be solved by enforcing existing copyright
laws and related rights laws, and we are still waiting for an answer. On other other hand, some versions of the treaty would create a new layer of rights on top of copyright, that will harm both consumers and copyright holders.

On the topic of negotiations on access to knowledge for education, research and other topics, KEI notes that the new texts on these topics are ambitious and address an important issue — how do countries deal with pressures to ramp up the enforcement of copyright, while ensuring there is a lawful path to access to knowledge? We look forward to work on this topic, and urge delegates to take a hard look at what happened in the 1967 and 1971 revisions to the Berne, as regards developing countries, and to reflect on what went wrong then, and how to fix things.

As regards copyright exceptions for persons who are blind or have other disabilities, it is unfortunate that the United States and some countries in Europe have yet to agree that the nature of the instrument will be a treaty. They certainly don’t have a problem calling for a broadcasting treaty, even when they aren’t sure what problem it will solve, or how it will work. What is needed for disabilities is a treaty that changes access on the ground, which means it must not be saddled with complicated and unworkable procedures. It should be inclusive as regards beneficiaries. It should be build upon the most robust and effective national exceptions in practice today, with a mandate to share files between countries, when use is lawful in both countries. We expect a diplomatic conference on this topic in 2013 that would lead to the adoption of a Treaty.