ip watch: this week at wipo

As Jesse posted earlier, we attended the Access 2 Knowledge Conference 2006. It was informative and we got a chance to listen to and talk with a great variety of people working in this area.
One very important issue that was surprisingly only raised on occasion and receives even less coverage in the mainstream media is the Treaty for the Protection of the Rights of Broadcasting, Cablecasting and Webcasting Organizations being presented this week at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. A panelist at A2K, Jamie Love, who is from the Consumer Project on Technology posted on the Huffingpost last year on this treaty. CPT is a great resource for drafts of the Treaty and well as analysis from various media covering the issue. Thiru Balasubramaniam also gives a good update on the controversial treaty.
The proposed treaty seeks to add a new layer of IP over any broadcast media, including the media delivered via the Internet. Here, webcasting refers to not only the colloquial meaning for streaming video but also the general transmission of web content over the Internet. Love notes that this treaty grants to webcasters IP rights over what they transmit, which is “separate and in addition to the rights (if any) of copyright owners.” Therefore, webcasters would retain rights over even material in the public domain.
Love further gives this explaination:
“If you download a file from the Internet, you would have to get the permission of the web page operator before you could republish the data elsewhere. This permission would be in addition to any permissions you would need from the actual copyright owner, and it would even be required if you are seeking to publish something that was either in the public domain under copyright law, or that had been licensed for distribution under something like a creative commons license.”
This treaty would dramatically change the IP landscape of broadcasting. Aside from the fact that the treaty would give rights to broadcasters that never existed before in the US, its passage would severely limit the democratic culture of self publishing that made the Internet important in the first place.

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