ENDitorial : The End of Multilateral Broadcast Treaty

By EDRi · July 4, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The summer special session of United Nation’s World Intellectual
Property Organization’s (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and
Related rights (SCCR) ended with an outcome that effectively killed the
proposed treaty for protection of broadcast organisations (Broadcast
Treaty). The committee called off the Diplomatic Conference that was
supposed to take place in November to approve the treaty. Even if the
treaty remains on the agenda of SCCR, it is unlikely that there will be
any serious push to overcome the vastly different positions on key
issues relating to objectives, scope and object of protection.

There were several reasons for this outcome. The treaty was unwanted by
many countries. The United States lost interest after webcasting was
removed from the scope of the treaty and – perhaps more importantly –
after the US technology and telecommunication industries made their
opposing position loudly known. There was also disagreement within the
North American Broadcasters’ Association. This left the EU and Japan in
a much weaker position against the countries known as “Friends of
Development”, who saw little use in new property rights for broadcasters
but instead considered the treaty as an opportunity to inject new
elements such as competition, access to knowledge and cultural diversity
into the global copyright regime.

The second reason was spirited opposition by the rest of the
stakeholders (i.e. other than broadcasters) against the treaty. In
particular the organizations representing civil society constantly asked
questions about the rationale of the treaty and brought transparency to
the process by transcribing the discussions during the plenary sessions.
This exposed in almost real-time the lack of any real substance to the
proponents’ arguments.

One can also speculate on the role of the long-time chairman of the
committee, Jukka Liedes, in the demise of the treaty. It became widely
known that he and Mr. Tilman Lüder (who represents the European
Commission) did not agree on a strategy (or much else for that matter).
Mr. Liedes also took many times positions that were seen as detached
from the reality of the committee as he tried to push the treaty to the
Diplomatic Conference. Still, the outcome of the negotiations was always
likely to be a failure because of the divergent political situation on
global IP policy.

The big question now is what the outcome will mean for WIPO and SCCR. A
rather direct hint could be found from this comment by Tom Rivers, external
legal adviser to the Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT):
“If Wipo is not the right forum for this issue to be addressed then
broadcasters will need to raise (their) concerns at regional or bilateral
level instead”.

So, in practice the broadcasters will try to use the sympathy of European
Commission civil servants to advance their agenda by forcing the
developing countries to accept extensive “investment protection clauses”
to their bi-lateral trade agreements. This will be a key issue for EDRI.

Finally, a more fundamental question must asked. Why are these kinds of
investment protection schemes, which have nothing to do with creativity
or culture, dealt with under the copyright system in the first place? It
unfortunately seems that the so-called related rights have become a
sweet spot for blatant corporate rent seeking. The European Commission
seems to accept all kinds of demands from the stakeholders without the
merest hint of economic justification. Even when their own studies find
clear evidence that these types of protection are harmful (such as with
the sui generis database right), there is no reaction on their part.
Isn’t it time that European IP policy was based on economic evidence
rather than the interests of a small number of large right holders?

Second Special Session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related
Rights (SCCR) (18-22.06.2007)

Piracy collapses broadcasting treaty (24.06.2007)

EDRI-gram: Results of the WIPO’s SCCR Special Session 1 (31.01.2007)

EFF’s resource page on the WIPO Broadcasting Treaty

Some NABA (North American BroadcastersAssociation) members opposed the
treaty (20.06.2007)

(Contribution by Ville Oksanen – EDRI-member Electronic Frontier Finland)