Broadcasting Treaty: will protecting broadcast signals threaten the Internet?


There is a very strong push for convening a diplomatic conference to approve the Broadcasting Treaty of the World Intellectual Property Organization at this week´s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights in Geneva.

At stake is the freedom to share cultural material on the internet, the concentration of power of large incumbent broadcasters and in general opening up with yet another absurd layer of copyright protection of a pandora´s box of new abuses and threats to digital rights and access to knowledge.

The EU and the US have different approaches to the Broadcast Treaty. While the EU is pushing for the convening of a diplomatic conference to approve a Treaty with a broad scope, the US is in no hurry and would prefer an international legal instrument with a narrow scope. Most of the countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa are not at all enthusiastic about this treaty and instead would appreciate a Library Treaty to facilitate the public mission of lending, sharing and preservation by means of exceptions and limitations.

The EU represented by the European Commission is the main force pushing for a broadcasting treaty (despite the fact that practically no one in the European Parliament know even about the existence of this proposal) more than ever to add another level of copyright protection for “traditional” incumbent broadcasters from “piracy” of their programs, specially on the internet, including “deferred” or “post-fixation” use of any broadcast. This could mean opening up great threats for digital rights and access to culture.

The US only wants a “Single right” that protects broadcasters from piracy of direct “simultaneously or near simultaneous” broadcast signals, like a live sporting event. Which means no extra protection of later use of the broadcast on the Internet.

India is also against any attempt to include webcasting, simulcasting or anything that is not live broadcasting. Broadcasters should not be given any new rights in other platforms. They should not be given any “blanket rights” nor “post-fixation rights”. If we have a treaty India supports clear exceptions for education, non-commercial use and other public interests.