13 June 2007

Dear Wicked WIPO

WIPO is at it again, trying to bring in a big, bad broadcasting treaty:

In 2006, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was inches away from finalizing a treaty that would have crippled Internet broadcasting. Called the WIPO Broadcasting Treaty, it gave traditional broadcasters and cablecasters new copyright-like rights over their transmissions, including control over Internet retransmissions of broadcasts and cablecasts. Creating these rights is not only unnecessary to incentivize new forms of online communication such as podcasting and videoblogging, but will also inhibit the growth of these new citizen-generated media.


In an astounding turnaround last year, WIPO Member States told the WIPO Secretariat to rewrite the Treaty and make it focus more narrowly on signal protection. Thanks to the efforts of technology companies, independent podcasters, and activists, the delegates agreed that the treaty shouldn't be premised on creating new rights, which would lead to more litigation that would stifle new technologies and harm citizen-run Web broadcasting activities. Instead, any new treaty should be based on protection of broadcast signals. This was a huge victory for podcasters, their fans, and innovative business that are pushing video on the web.

Then, in May of this year, WIPO released a "new" draft of the treaty that looks disconcertingly like the old one. Sure, there was some tinkering around the edges, but the Treaty still gives broadcasters and cablecasters new exclusive rights, and it still covers transmission over the Internet. Worse, it includes an expanded technological protection measure provision that could ban any unauthorised "device or system capable of decrypting an encrypted broadcast" - which means all modern personal computers!

Don't let them get away with it: sign the Dear WIPO petition.

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