Thursday, December 07, 2006

WIPO Casting treaty: Where are we and where are we going?

by Manon Ress

At the WIPO General Assembly, on September 30, 2006, the outcome from informal consultations (Sept 27-30, 2006) resulted in a statement by the chair that outlined what the agreement was and what the next steps would be:

The GA approved 1) the convening of the Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of the Rights of Broadcasting Organizations under the conditions set out in paragraph 4 below from November 19 to December 7, 2007, in Geneva. The objective of this Conference is to negotiate and conclude a WIPO treaty on the protection of broadcasting organizations, including cablecasting organizations. The scope of the treaty will be confined to the protection of broadcasting and cablecasting organizations in the traditional sense.

2) The Revised Draft Basic Proposal (Document SCCR/15/2) will constitute the Basic Proposal with the understanding that all Member States may make proposals at the Diplomatic Conference.

A first meeting of the 3) preparatory committee will be convened for June 2007 to prepare the necessary modalities of the Diplomatic Conference. The preparatory committee will consider the draft rules of procedure to be presented for adoption to the Diplomatic Conference, the lists of States, as well as intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to be invited to participate in the conference, as well as other necessary organizational matters.

and 4) two special sessions of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights to clarify the outstanding issues will be convened, the first one in January 2007, and the second one in June 2007 in conjunction with the meeting of the preparatory committee.

These two special sessions of the SCCR should aim to agree and finalize, on a signal-based approach, the objectives, specific scope and object of protection with a view to submitting to the Diplomatic Conference a revised basic proposal, which will amend the agreed relevant parts of the Revised Draft Basic Proposal referred to in Paragraph 2. The Diplomatic Conference will be convened if such agreement is achieved. If no such agreement is achieved, all further discussions will be based on Document SCCR/15/2.

Finally, 5) the WIPO Secretariat will organize, in cooperation with the Member States concerned, and at the request of Member States, consultations and information meetings on the matters of the Diplomatic Conference. The meetings will be hosted by the inviting Member States.

If approved, there will be Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of the Rights of Broadcasting Organizations, from November 19 to December 7, 2007.

As the first special session is soon, ie January 17-19, 2007, the question of whether the final text will really be a signal-based approach is not that settled. We heard that during informal consultations in Geneva, some delegations were pushing again for including exclusive rights. A coalition of public interest groups sent a request for a public meeting with the US Delegation before the January special session hoping among other things to clarify the approach that will be discussed.

Nobody is really paying much attention to the truly new beneficiary of the proposal, the cablecasters, and the effect of the additional cost of creating yet another layer of required permission for cablecast program on the public, small broadcasters, librarians etc.