Good news out of Geneva earlier this week: instead of rushing forward with a Diplomatic Conference to finalize the controversial proposed broadcast treaty, as recommended by the chairman of the relevant WIPO committee, WIPO's General Assembly opted to hit the brakes. WIPO certainly didn't bring the process to a full stop. But it slowed things down in a way that could permit a much-needed change of direction.
Yes, WIPO still approved the convening of a Diplomatic Conference near the end of 2007. But first, there will be two meetings aimed at achieving consensus on the treaty's approach and scope. WIPO's decision indicates that if no consensus is reached, the Diplomatic Conference may not happen.
Moreover, the decision calls for discussions to focus on a "signal-based approach." CDT and a variety of industry and public interest groups have argued
that a treaty narrowly focused on protecting against signal theft could be unobjectionable. But the current draft takes an entirely different approach, creating a complex set of new intellectual-property-like rights for broadcasters and cablecasters. For a discussion of the problems raised by such a rights-based approach, see our policy post
. Any move to a signal-theft approach would be a very welcome development.
Thus, a lot will depend on the WIPO committee meetings now slated for January and June 2007. It remains to be seen what kind of revised treaty proposal, if any, will emerge. But for the moment, it appears that the critics of current draft treaty have considerable momentum.
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