On Wednesday, 10 December 2014, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) will convene a side event entitled, “The Broadcasting Treaty: A Solution in Search of a Problem?”; the event will take place in Room B of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) from 13:30 to 15:00. Speakers include: Nehaa Chaudhari, (Programme Officer at Centre for Internet and Society, New Delhi/Banglaore), Jeremy Malcolm, (Senior Global Policy Analyst, Electronic Frontier Foundation), James Love, (Director, KEI) and Viviana Munoz Kieffer, (Coordinator, Innovation and Access to Knowledge Programme, South Centre).
Since its first SCCR (Nov 2-10, 1998) WIPO and member states have been asked to resolve the requests for new legal protections for broadcasting organizations. All participants to the SCCR were asked then “to submit, by the end of March 1999, proposals and/or views in treaty language or in other form.”
Since then the rights of broadcasting organizations have been on the agenda. While the committee is still trying to identify precisely the problems Broadcasters’ rights (or right?)to be solved (piracy in its broadest definition?), the proposal for a new international norm setting may create a new layer of post fixation rights in content that broadcasters do not create, license nor own.
The demandeurs i.e. some of the broadcasting organizations representatives and some member states are listing endless rights such as transmission, retransmission or deferred transmission whether simultaneous or near simultaneous on demand of a broadcast signal to the public, as well as transmission over the internet. Most of these rights exist in some form or another in most WIPO member states. However, for many SCCR participants, if the committee truly wants to move forward on this new norm setting exercise it must focus on a narrow treaty based on a single right corresponding to the core need of broadcasting organizations for protection from signal piracy.
After 15 years of negotiations, formal and informal, text based or not, it is time to answer some of the following questions:
Would adding a new layer of rights over content on the internet be consistent with the committee’s mandate to limit protection to the broadcaster’s signal?
Would the new international right (or rights) have an impact on consumers and creative communities globally?
Would the new instrument have the necessary exceptions for quotations or news of the day?
Would the extension of the rights under discussion to cable television (and services which already require subscriber fees) create a redundant layer of protection to services already protected under other legal regimes and thus be anticompetitive?
Would the protection of over the air broadcast signal be sufficient for broadcasters? If not why not?