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Statement by the Centre for Internet and Society on the Broadcast Treaty at SCCR 30

Posted by Nehaa Chaudhari at Jul 02, 2015 01:20 AM |
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The 30th Session of the World Intellectual Property Organization's ("WIPO") Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights ("SCCR") is underway in Geneva from 29 June, 2015 to 03 July, 2015. While CIS was unable to attend this meeting, we have the following statement to make on negotiations on the Proposed Treaty for Broadcasting Organizations.

This statement was prepared on behalf of CIS by Nehaa Chaudhari. Many thanks to Pranesh Prakash and Amulya Purushothama for their inputs.


Mister Chair,

Our intervention will speak to the presentations made by broadcasting organizations on Day 1 and Member and Group Statements on Days 1 and 2.

First, Mr. Chair, generally on technical panels- If this is the manner in which this Committee will be appraised of new developments, without prejudice to our reservations about this ad-hoc manner itself, we strongly suggest that other interest groups and stakeholders be provided a similar opportunity to present their side of the story, in front of this Committee, for one entire day. Industry representatives, including those from telecommunications, information technology, consumers electronics, and performers- and not just various public interest NGOs have been expressing reservations and concerns about this Treaty from at least as far back as 2006, if not earlier. We appreciate Group B’s ask in their introductory statement to “continue to hear the voices of the real world” – We only ask that you award all stakeholders an equivalent, if not equal opportunity to be heard in the manner that you have the broadcasters; without privileging the interests of the broadcasters above the others. There must be a recognition of the rights of other stakeholders including content owners- not just in the Treaty as noted  by India yesterday, but also in the discussions leading up to it.

Second, Mr. Chair, on Technical Background Paper document SCCR 7/8 – which you had flagged off as relevant for this session in your summary of SCCR 29 – but, of course, I stand to be corrected if I have understood incorrectly. Mr. Chair, this document is more than a decade old – it seems to have seen no updates since 2002, and even in that form, it is wanting. The document excludes from its scope the rationale for the treaty as well as the scope for protection, which we find problematic, especially given as these have been among the most contentious topics in this Committee. Additionally in only dealing primarily with the Rome Convention with but a passing reference to other international instruments, if at all, it presents an incomplete overview of the legal framework already available to broadcasters. I also have other comments to this document, which I will send in writing. We’d strongly urge that an updated version of this document be presented to this Committee so that we can have a more accurate discussion, just like the one on market and technology trends has been updated as SCCR 30/5.

Third, Mr. Chair, on the presentations and statements themselves. A reason oft cited in this Committee, Mr. Chair, has been the need to protect the underlying investment and the purported loss of revenue. From their presentations on Day 1 Mr. Chair, it seems to us that the broadcasters are doing perfectly alright without a Broadcast Treaty.  Mr. Knapp for IHS in fact said that Despite digitization, TV homes, paid TV homes are growing globally”, stating also, that there was a very high average revenue per user in North America and a “double digit growth in the pay TV sector” in other regions, which meant a “fairly healthy industry despite all the digital disruption side”. We have also heard from TV Globo who told us of the progress made in advertising and pay TV and smartphone penetration in Brazil, and from Zee Telefilms from India who spoke of a booming broadcasting industry.

Mr. Chair, Nothing we have heard so far addresses three important questions – why is there a need for a separate right? Why are protections under the Rome Convention inadequate? While piracy might well be an issue, why can’t it be covered under existing copyright law – all of which comes down to why we’re discussing the creation of a para copyright regime for broadcasting organizations.

From the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, we heard about emerging technologies and the challenges due to piracy. There was also a mention of significant investment – but if that is to be the basis for this treaty, we would ask that detailed reports of these investments and losses also be placed before this Committee. Also, none of this addresses the lacunae in the Rome Convention or existing international copyright law.

Mr. Chair, we have repeatedly heard from Group B and the European Union on the ‘significant economic value of broadcasting’, but, this economic value has had international law recognition for a while now. While the CEBS group, Japan and Russia speak highly of technological advancements to justify the need for the Broadcast Treaty, there has still been no discussion on the inadequacy of existing international law to address these technological advancements. There needs to be something more that justifies this attempt to give broadcasters an additional layer of rights. It might be useful to conduct a comprehensive study on signal theft and piracy and the legal frameworks in every member state to deal with signal theft and piracy, and an updated study on the international legal framework as well. This Committee has precedent on such an exercise in Prof. Kenneth Crews’ study on limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives that has been tabled at this SCCR.

Mr. Chair, this para copyright we’re trying to create, especially without all stakeholders being heard equally, would in effect severely limit any competition that broadcasting organizations would face from the Internet and other emerging technologies; which is undesirable for any market, besides access to free knowledge and information, as well put by the delegation of Iran.

Thank you.

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