NGO letter to WIPO SCCR delegates expressing grave concerns about proposed WIPO treaty for broadcasting

On May 28, 2018, at the opening of a five day to talks at the 36th WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), 11 civil society and library groups sent a letter to negotiators expressing deep concerns over the proposed treaty on broadcasting.

The groups signing the letter were:

  1. Centre for Internet and Society, India (CIS-India)
  2. Civil Society Coalition (CSC)
  3. COMMUNIA International Association on the Digital Public Domain
  4. Corporación Innovarte
  5. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
  6. Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL)
  7. Fundación Karisma
  8. Global Expert Network on Copyright User Rights
  9. Instituto Proprietas
  10. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
  11. Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
  12. Le Conseil international des Archives (CIA)/ International Council on Archives (ICA)
  13. Public Knowledge (PK)
  14. Society of American Archivists (SAA)
  15. Third World Network (TWN)
  16. #BibliotecariosAlSenado (formed by):
      Asociación de Egresados de la Escuela Interamericana de Bibliotecología – ASEIBI
      Asociación de Bibliotecas de la Costa Atlántica de Colombia – ASOUNIESCA
      Grupo de G8 Bibliotecas
      Fundación Conector
      Mesa de Bibliotecas de Instituciones de Educación Superior de Antioquia – MBIES
      Open Connection S.A.S.
      Asociación de Servicios al Público de Unidades de Información – SERVINFO
      Sistema Universitario de Manizales – SUMA
      Red de Bibliotecas Populares de Antioquia – REBIPOA
      Red de Bibliotecas de Instituciones de Educación Superior del Meta
      Red de Egresados de Ciencia de la Información
      Red de Unidades de Información de Risaralda – REUNIR

A PDF version of the letter is here:

For background and context on this negotiation, see:

Here are some reactions to the proposed WIPO treaty for the protection of broadcasting organizations collected by KEI during WIPO SCCR 36.

“In an age where everyone can be a broadcaster online, it makes less sense than ever to be granting companies special rights over content merely for having broadcasted it. When such content is protected by copyright anyway, this secondary layer of rights is superfluous and will complicate licensing. When it isn’t protected by copyright, then the outcome is even worse; inhibiting access to the public domain for as long as 50 years after broadcast. If it attempts to do anything more than protect broadcasters against signal piracy, the Broadcasting Treaty would be positively harmful.” (Jeremy Malcolm, Senior Global Policy Analyst, Electronic Frontier Foundation)

“In many ways, the longer this negotiation has dragged on, the worse the proposals have become. The most recent Chair’s text, by Daren Tang, would give broadcasters rights over material they never created, owned or licensed, for decades after copyrights had expired. Even though the broadcasters have no claim to authorship or performance, the text proposes the most restrictive language on exceptions of any international copyright or related rights treaty. Broadcasters now have language in the chairman’s text that would extend this new layer of rights to works that were first transmitted on the Internet, and streamed on demand. The treaty creates all sorts of new problems, largely because negotiators have pandered to broadcasters, and ignore everyone else.” (James Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International)

“We are particularly concerned that the new text disproportionately favors the interests of broadcasters, creating a new exclusive right that would be operationally protected in perpetuity. The complete disappearance of a clause containing a list of exceptions and limitations calls into question the exercise of human rights. It must be acknowledged that the regime is already much more inclined to protectionist thinking, and the slight reference in the text to limitations and exceptions prevents the re-use of copyright-protected works that are not even owned by broadcasters.” (Amalia Toledo, Coordinadora de Proyectos, Fundación Karisma)

“This is an ever-changing solution to an undefined problem for which there is no evidence or urgency. After 20 years, the sky hasn’t fallen. WIPO and the world do not need another Washington Treaty on Integrated Circuits that was unnecessary and obsolete when it adopted in 1989 and still hasn’t entered into force 29 years later. This proposed treaty, as it stands, will result in potentially serious costs and complexity causing harm to the internet and copyright law by imposing a totally unnecessary layer of rights at a time of rapidly changing technology, regulation and business models.” (Howard Knopf, Civil Society Coalition)

“The proposal on the table not only offers the wrong solution to the problem in hand, but in doing so creates new problems. These range from lost revenues for other rightholders, and new barriers to libraries, archives and museums in their work of preserving and giving access to audiovisual heritage, in the absence of complete exceptions and limitations.” (Stephen Wyber, Manager, Policy and Advocacy, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions)

“Communia is worried that the proposed broadcast treaty will be pushed forward without legislative mechanisms to protect users rights and the public domain. We believe that international treaties that focus only on the protection of private interests have long lost their social legitimacy. We thus urge the SCCR to deliver a draft that balances the interests of the broadcasting organizations with the public interests related with access to knowledge, education and culture.” (Teresa Nobre, Legal Expert on Copyright, Communia International Association on the Digital Public Domain)

There are hardly any safeguards in the treaty to limit the adverse effects this treaty is set to have on the knowledge economy. Oft-repeated claims of how the treaty purports to protect the signal per se are in deep ignorance of the reality that signal and content go hand-in-hand, and excessive control of the former is bound to affect the flow of the latter. Despite many civil society organisations raising legitimate fears about the potential misuse of this protection by broadcasters, negotiators have failed to take cognizance and provide suitable safeguards/ remedies in the public-interest (Anubha Sinha, Centre for Internet and Society, India).”