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Delegate 'Fatigue'?

Countries Urged to Decide Next Steps on WIPO Broadcast Treaty

Countries need to decide the way forward on a broadcast protections treaty, the chair of the World Intellectual Property Organization's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) said at a Nov. 6-8 meeting in Geneva, according to a transcript. A review of the third revised draft text accomplished two things, said Owen Ripley, Canadian Heritage associate assistant deputy minister-cultural affairs. It identified issues that could be improved for clarity or to move toward a consensus document and it allowed delegates to map the areas where outstanding issues remain.

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Agreement appears to be broad on pursuing a treaty narrowly focused on signal piracy, Ripley said, but it should be limited to the transmission of program-carrying signals linked to linear transmission and not extended to post-fixation activities.

Three sticking points remain, the chair said. The first is what the minimum level of protection should be for transmissions over computer networks. The second is the overall scope of protection, specifically as it relates to stored programs and pre-broadcast signals. The question is whether the treaty should focus narrowly on the point of fixation -- the point at which a signal is pirated as part of a live broadcast -- or should more broadly apply to the value chain as it relates to stored programs and pre-broadcasts. The third outstanding issue is the document's approach to copyright limitations and exceptions, particularly as related to current international agreements.

Ripley plans to update the latest text to give delegations a clean version that addresses those issues. However, he added, "I really think this committee needs to decide what the way forward on broadcasting is." The current text isn't perfect but there's a "good understanding of the points of agreement." The outstanding items are "unlikely quite honestly to be resolved through technical expert level discussions like this," he added: "It is really up to you to decide what to do with that information." The next SCCR meeting date hasn't yet been set.

The discussion on broadcasting was "productive," emailed WIPO Copyright Law Division Director Michele Woods. "It was notable that many member states called for expedited treatment of this topic during their statements in the committee." But Knowledge Ecology International Director James Love cited "lots of fatigue over the broadcast issue. Lots of delegates want to move on, but don't have a real exit strategy." Broadcasters didn't immediately comment, but in a policy statement posted before the meeting, the European Broadcasting Union urged WIPO members to reach consensus on outstanding items and recommend that WIPO convene a diplomatic conference to finalize the treaty.

Ukraine submitted a statement to the SCCR about fellow committee member Russia: "Today it is 621st day since the Russian Federation initiated a full-scale invasion of Ukraine... While esteemed colleagues continue to discuss the [intellectual property rights] protection of broadcasting organizations, Ukrainian TV channels have been forced to set up studios in basements and underground parking lots. Broadcasting infrastructure and equipment have been damaged or destroyed," Ukraine said. It "remains profoundly unacceptable to engage in discussions with a country that has violated international law, caused harm to innocent civilians, and ravaged cultural heritage and infrastructure."