WIPO Webcasting treaty

This is another amazing comment by James Boyle in FT regarding the WIPO Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organisations, also known as the Webcasting Treaty. Boyle’s point is undeniably strong as usual. Why does the broadcast industry need a new right? Why is there need for further protection of a multi-million industry that is under no threat?

But what is the treaty? The broadcast right provides an extra layer of copyright protection by giving broadcast organisations a series of exclusive rights found under copyright (communication to the public, fixation, making available to the public, reproduction and distribution of the broadcast). This would generally seem fair enough, if an organisation broadcasts a drama, it will have several rights over their work. This would stop the fixation of shows in digital format and their online distribution through BitTorrent or other P2P services. The problem with the right is that it has the potential of extending copyright once more, as a work that is broadcast just before it is to enter the public domain could earn a new lease of life (50 years according to the treaty). This is unacceptable, and as Boyle points out, countries that do not have a broadcast right have not suffered from it.

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