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WIPO Diplomatic Conference On Broadcasting Rights To Go Ahead

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

04 October 2006

In a move that signals entry into the final phase of treaty negotiations, the General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on Monday in Geneva agreed to convene a diplomatic conference from November 19 to December 7, 2007 to update the rights of broadcasting organizations.

The objective of this diplomatic conference is to conclude a treaty on the protection of broadcasting organizations, including cablecasting organizations.

The decision comes despite controversy regarding the content of the proposed treaty, which broadcasters argue is necessary to prevent the theft and retransmission of their signals, but critics argue could merely increase the cost of using broadcast material for personal or educational purposes, in addition to slowing innovation.

Under the agreement reached on Monday, two special sessions of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), the forum where formal negotiations have taken place, will be held "to clarify the outstanding issues". The General Assembly decision says 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".

The SCCR sessions will be held in January and June 2007.

Currently the Revised Basic Proposal constitutes the Basic Proposal for the diplomatic conference. That said, the General Assembly decision states that the two meetings of the SCCR can bring agreed amendments to the document, allowing at least the possibility that the concerns raised by NGOs, technology firms and developing countries may be addressed.

The discussions are confined to the protection of traditional broadcasting organizations and cablecasting. This followed a decision by the 14th session of the SCCR from 1 to 5 May, 2006, to examine questions of webcasting and simulcasting on a separate track.

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