New "Pseudo Copyright" for Broadcasters Will Harm the Global Public Interest

Geneva - This week, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will hold a committee meeting to debate the merits of its proposed "Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations." The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will be there to urge delegates to reject aspects of the treaty that would impoverish the public domain and thwart innovation.

EFF European Affairs Coordinator Cory Doctorow will present a letter to the committee on behalf of 20 technology companies and organizations that oppose including new webcasters' rights in the treaty.

"This coalition shatters the illusion that there is a technology consensus on this issue," said Doctorow.

The new pseudo-copyright for webcasters would curtail the public's ability to archive news footage or re-use broadcast material that is in the public domain. It would also require that all media players be closed-source, proprietary, and subject to the oversight and approval of the movie studios. EFF is joining several other non-government organizations (NGOs) in proposing an alternative draft of the treaty -- one that targets the problem of signal theft rather than adds these new rights.

Doctorow will also speak at the meeting about how digital rights management (DRM) technologies hinder technological progress. The proposed treaty would add DRM provisions for broadcasters similar to those the much-criticized US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) gives to copyright holders.

In October, WIPO made a positive move by adopting a "development agenda" proposed by a number of developing countries and NGOs. This agenda makes explicit the organization's responsibility for considering the social and economic impact of its decisions. Doctorow will urge the organization to apply the public-interest principles outlined in the agenda to its consideration of DRM.

Doctorow will be live-blogging the WIPO meeting at the EFF website.


Gwen Hinze
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Wendy Seltzer
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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