The negotiations have been tough (we hear), but the 2007 WIPO General Assemblies have come to a close with two huge victories for the public interest. On the Broadcasting Treaty, while the GA agreed to convene a Diplomatic Conference in November/December 2007, we now have two welcome safeguards in place (document after the jump).

First, there will be two more meetings of the SCCR to work through some of the issues on which countries are still clearly divided (Technological Protection Measures, and coverage of certain Internet transmissions) and a "pre-conference" before the November/December dipcon. In effect, this represents a rejection by the GA of the recommendation passed amidst controversy at last month's WIPO Copyright Committee meeting (the SCCR). The previous schedule included only a pre-conference, at which nothing substantive would have been accomplished before a July Diplomatic Conference. The four month reprieve and two additional meetings are good news indeed. The full text of the decision follows, below.

Second, and most importantly, the GA's compromise has an escape clause that allows for the convening of a dipcon *only if all outstanding issues are resolved* in those two SCCR meetings. By implication, for the first time, WIPO has indicated that there might not be a diplomatic conference and a new treaty if all member countries can't reach agreement. An eminently appropriate outcome if countries are not able to reach agreement after almost nine years of negotiations.

It has also been decided that the treaty will now take a signal-based approach instead of the messy, dangerous rights-based approach that is used in the current treaty text. This, too, is good news for the Internet community, and reflects the concerns raised by many WIPO member countries at last month's meeting. There's much support for narrowing the treaty's overbroad scope to signal protection. The key question will now be how the next treaty draft reflects this in practice.

The colossal effort required to broker this deal was recognized when the meeting's Chair said, "I would like especially to thank Mr. Jukka Liedes, who must have lost a few kilos trying to work out this agreement." Liedes, the Chair of the infamous meeting earlier in September that closed by an unpopular "silence as consent" procedure, was charged with finding a compromise at the GA, and appears to have done so this time.

On the Development Agenda, there's good news also. The GA agreed to continue the dialogue, and most importantly, to keep all the issues on the table, not just those that have the support of the developed countries. The Assemblies agreed to extend the mandate of the Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda (the now non-provisional PCDA).

And so we end this year's WIPO General Assemblies with good news on all fronts. We're mighty chuffed.

* If you're wondering where we hid all of the notes for a 6-day meeting, the answer is that not many notes could be taken at this session. Once each country's position has been staked out in public, the meetings typically adjourn to "informal sessions", unrecorded discussions held in private, where compromises were hammered out, one way or another.

WIPO General Assembly, 2006
September 30, 2006

Outcome from the informal consultations, September 27-30, 2006,

Prepared by the Chairman of the SCCR

1. The General Assembly approves 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.

3. The meeting of a 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.

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. It is understood that the 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.

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.

6. The General Assembly is invited to approve the convening of the Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of the Rights of Broadcasting Organizations, from November 19 to December 7, 2007, and its preparatory arrangements as recommended by the fifteenth session of the SCCR and as amended above.

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