[A2k] Public Knowledge Oral Statement at WIPO SCCR20

John Bergmayer john at publicknowledge.org
Wed Jun 23 06:33:17 PDT 2010

A number of groups have made great statements this morning.  I hope we get get as many as possible online.

PK text and PDF available here: http://www.publicknowledge.org/node/3193

Text also pasted below:

Thank you, Chairman. I would like to address three issues.

First, the study on the unauthorized use of signals prepared by Screen Digest is very informative. While signal theft can be a real issue, a treaty that creates a new intellectual property right to protect broadcasters is the wrong approach. Many of the cited examples relate to programs and content, not to signals. In fact, the Screen Digest study supports our conclusion that layering rights on top of rights is likely to create needless complication. It says that as to an unlawful copy, I quote from paragraph 41, "it would be near impossible to determine whether the source of each episode of the show on a pirated physical medium was a broadcast signal (by unauthorized copying of the signal) or from the DVD/CD/Bluray box set of the show which has been legally released/acquired. In such a scenario, there arises the question as to what legal provisions (if they exist) are violated – broadcast laws or copyright laws." This demonstrates how difficult to administer, and ultimately counterproductive, overlapping layers of rights can be. Signal protection is not an intellectual property issue. Narrow measures and the enforcement of existing law should suffice to address it.  

Second, and speaking as US organization, to the extent that the AV Treaty merely ensures that US performers can be paid out of money that is already being collected overseas, its adoption would be a positive development. But if only for practical reasons, we are wary of proposals to change well-settled practices in the US, or treaty language that is incompatible with US law.  The process that was announced yesterday should ensure that the treaty remains narrowly focused on its limited aims.

Third, with the various proposals before the SCCR this meeting, it is clear that there is now an international consensus that governments must recognize the right of the reading disabled to access knowledge and culture. The best way to protect these rights is through a binding, international treaty, that allows for the creation and cross-border movement of accessible works without the permission of the rightsholders, and without unnecessary hurdles and complications. The proposals of the US and the EU both have good points, but fall short of this. While we would not stand in the way of any progress toward recognizing the rights of the reading disabled, nothing should delay progress toward a binding treaty. We continue to believe that other instruments should be in addition to, rather than instead of, a treaty. We were therefore gratified to hear the statement of the United States yesterday that its proposal could form the basis of a treaty. We encourage the US and the EU to work together with the Africa Group and Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Mexico, and other proponents of the WBU proposal to adopt a timeframe for moving forward. 

Thank you.

John Bergmayer | Staff Attorney
Public Knowledge (202) 861-0020

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