Centre for Internet & Society

The twenty-second session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights is being held in Geneva from June 15 to June 24, 2011. Nirmita Narasimhan and Pranesh Prakash are attending the conference. CIS delivered its statement, on the Broadcast Treaty, and made it available in print form as well.

The Centre for Internet and Society would like to associate itself with the comprehensive statement made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).  We are one of the signatories of the joint statement, which EFF referred to, of the many civil society non-governmental organizations, cable casters and technology companies opposing an intellectual property rights based Broadcasting Treaty.

We believe that the protection that may be afforded to broadcasters under existing international treaties, including Article 14 of the TRIPS Agreement, are sufficient to safeguard the interests of broadcasters, and that the Broadcast Treaty, which has been under discussion for more than a decade without any progress is, as the WIPO Chair observed in the conclusion to the informal summary prepared after the 16th SCCR (SCCR/17/1/inf), an expenditure of "time, energy and resources to no avail". Without prejudice to that position, we would like to make a few points on the content of the treaty as well.

There has been talk of ensuring a technology-neutral approach.  While a technology-neutral approach is useful since technology keeps changing, we believe that that necessarily means the differences between different technologies should be recognized. The capital costs and investments of traditional  broadcasters, which are—as has been highlighted in the many statements here today—the basis on which broadcasters' rights are demanded, are not in the least comparable with the capital costs and investments of webcasting.

These differences have not come out adequately in the various regional seminars that WIPO helped organize, since those were mostly with traditional broadcasters and did not cover webcasters.

"Communication to the public", while that is a technologically neutral formulation, is an element of copyright, and is not the same of broadcast rights, which is a related right.

Any departure from a signal-based approach would require the assent of the WIPO General Assembly, which has in 2007 specifically requested for signal-based approach for the treaty.

Specifically, we believe that Paragraph 16 of the WIPO Development Agenda, which relates to preservation of a vibrant public domain, will be endangered by a right being given to webcasters which is separate from the underlying content of the transmission.

In this regard, we strongly support the delegations of South Africa and India, in their strong pronunciation of public interests while looking at such a treaty. We further support the delegation of Canada, for strongly emphasizing the need to allow countries the flexibility to opt-out of the provisions of the treaty for certain forms of broadcasting.

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