[A2k] SCCR 21: Initial impressions from day 1

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Mon Nov 8 09:13:31 PST 2010



SCCR 21: Initial impressions from day 1
By thiru
Created 8 Nov 2010 - 7:39am
The 21st session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and  
Related Rights (SCCR) commenced its work at 10:33 AM on 8 Monday 2010.

This unusually quick start is perhaps indicative of Member States'  
commitment to examine the three substantive agenda items up for  
consideration during this five day negotiation; these three issues  
include: 1) protection of broadcasting organizations, 2) protection of  
audiovisual performances and 3) limitations and exceptions.

As a welcome step in transparency, in contrast to a prominent  
intergovernmental organization based in Geneva overlooking the lake  
with competence in international trade, WIPO is providing closed  
captioning available at the following link: http://streamtext.net/text.aspx?event=WIPO 
  [1]. The electronic key to access this service is: wipo4me. This  
close captioning provided much of the source material for this blog.

Here are some highlights from the morning session. Assistant Director  
General Trevor Clarke opened the deliberations by exhorting Member  
States to "advance the work of the SCCR" and to "compromise on the  
language that is persistently causing these difficulties in reaching  
conclusions" on future work relating to limitations and exceptions,  
the protection of audiovisual performances and the protection of  
broadcasting organizations. The Chair (Jukka Liedes, Finland) urged  
members to adopt a 'spirit of compromise' recalling the difficult  
sessions of SCCR 18, 19 and 20. Mr. Liedes outlined his objective to  
reach conclusions by 6 PM on Friday, 12 November 2010 in contrast to  
the midnight sessions of the last two Committee meetings.

France, on behalf of Group B (industrialized countries), opened SCCR  
21's round of general interventions. Here are some key extracts from  
the Group B statement.

"We continue to support the conclusion of a treaty on the protection  
of performances in audiovisual media for we believe such an  
international legal instrument would greatly contribute  to cultural  
and economic development as well as promote cultural diversity. In  
view of the proposals made by several Member States since the last  
session of this Committee, holding consultations would be all the more  

Group B also remains convinced of the need of a treaty to address the  
challenges of signal piracy encountered by broadcasting organizations.  
We think such a normative solution should be found rapidly.

On exceptions and limitations, Group B recognizes the special needs of  
persons with print disabilities which Group B members already address  
in their national and regional legislation. The careful examination of  
possible solutions in this Committee reinforces our conviction that  
the dual track approach involving taking forward both the work of the  
stakeholders platform and a potential international instrument  
promises to be the most likely to produce concrete results.

We commend the work done by the platform with the recent launching of  
its new project TIGAR which will facilitate the transmission of  
publishers titles to trusted intermediaries. We would like to remind  
everyone that there are two proposals on the table from Group B  
members, Each tackle the main obstacle to the access to the protected  
works for people with print disabilities, namely, the cross-border  

We look forward to having substantive discussions on this issue, for  
we believe working on the substance can help us make progress. We also  
stand prepared to discuss in future work of this Committee the other  
important issues under exceptions and limitations raised by the  
African group."

Bangladesh took the floor on behalf of the Asian Group. The delegate  
also expressed regret that the 20th Session could not reach an agreed  
outcome". With respect to the protection of broadcasting  
organizations, the Asian Group took note of Part 3 of Professor Robert  
Picard's study on the Socioeconomic Dimension of the Unauthorized Use  
of Signals [2] which reinforced the need for expanded limitations and  
exceptions in the public interest in any instrument designed to combat  
signal piracy. With respect to limitations and exceptions, the Asian  
Group stated:

"The Asian Group adds great importance to sharing a balance between  
the right holders and the larger public interest. Exceptions and  
limitations to copyright are crucial in this regard. The Asian Group  
wishes to thank the Secretariat for the updated report on the  
questionnaire which should be a useful basis for furthering our  
discussions in this Committee.

With respect to the issue of greater access to copyright protected  
works by the visually impaired and other print disabled persons, the  
Asian Group appreciates the work being done in the WIPO Stakeholders'  
Platform. We welcome the fourth interim report of the Stakeholders'  
Platform and appreciate the progress that's being made at the  
Stakeholders' Platform. It is encouraging to learn about the launch of  
the project to facilitate access to visually impaired persons to  
published works.

Mr. Chairman, it is our firm belief that norm-setting in WIPO should  
not be seen as limited to intellectual rights and protection but  
should reflect a broader social and development context if WIPO is to  
remain the principle international body responsible for intellectual  
property it's norm-setting activities should reflect the broader  
context of current IP debates and if possible try to address some  
ramifications of IP which spill over onto other sectors, especially  
those concerning the common good.

With a view to bringing in a greater balance the Asian Group considers  
it is important to have a framework for safeguarding the public  
interest which is now being dealt with as exceptions and limitations  
clauses since such a framework does not currently exist. In this  
context our group would like to reiterate our readiness to proceed  
with the work on the basis of the treaty proposal  put forward by  
Brazil, Ecuador Paraguay and Mexico as well as the other proposals  
which had been put forward during the last session. As all of us in  
this Committee seem to be in agreement that something needs to be done  
to alleviate the situation with persons with print disabilities the   
Asian group urges that this Committee moves forward on substantive  
discussions and not preempt any outcome at this stage in this  
particular regard. At the same time we hope that this Committee  
commences a broader and more meaningful discussion on establishing a  
normative  framework for exceptions and limitations encompassing other  
areas of public policies.

In this context the group suggests that future work programme for this  
Committee be comprehensive in nature with the possible sequential  
approach being built into the programme to facilitate substantive  
discussions on issues that have attained a certain degree of maturity.  
Mr. Chairman, these are some of the broad comments that we had wished  
to make on behalf of the group, individual Member States of the group  
would express their own specific viewpoints in separate statements."

Brazil, on behalf of the Development Agenda Group, made a strong  
statement concerning the protection of broadcasting organizations  
noting that the main concern of the Development Agenda Group was

"related to the risk that granting stronger copyright protection or  
additional rights protection measures will increase costs and affect  
access to broadcasts in developing countries. In order to better  
understand the issues involved member countries of this Committee  
requested the Secretariat at the 18th Session to commission a study to  
take stock of the current condition of the broadcasting environment  
and social economic dimensions of unauthorized use of signals. That  
study by, prepared by Professor Picard will be discussed in this  
session this is an interesting study and we look forward to discussing  
it in great detail under the appropriate item it has the perspective  
of multiple stakeholders and looks at social welfare and how to  
safeguard public interest.

The study by Professor Picard finds for example that the array of data  
and analysis needed to directly measure or forecast the effects of the  
treaty with accuracy are not yet available this is partly due to the  
uncertainty about the overall scope and scale of the losses due to  
unauthorized use discovered by that treaty.

The study also clearly establishes the differences in how theft or  
piracy of signals differ from piracy of copyright goods such as books,  
DVDs, et cetera and notes the economic effect of signal piracy is  
weaker for broadcasting and cablecasting as compared to copyright  
groups and may not affect company revenue depending on consumer demand  
issues. This is an example of highlights from this study prompt us us  
to recall that anyone working the SCCR must be pursuing the line of  
mandate given to reach by the General Assembly."
The mandate of the 2007 General Assembly states that:

"the subject of broadcasting organizations and cablecasting  
organizations be retained on the agenda of the SCCR for its regular  
sessions and consider convening of a Diplomatic Conference only after  
agreement on objectives, specific scope and object of protection has  
been achieved."

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
thiru at keionline.org

Tel: +41 22 791 6727
Mobile: +41 76 508 0997

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