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Webcasts Safe From WIPO, for Now

Bloggers breathed a collective sigh of relief this week when the United States dropped its insistence that an international broadcast treaty extend to webcasts and podcasts. But the World International Property Organization is not abandoning the proposal. Instead, it will take it up as a separate proposal on a slower discussion track.

To say the proposal has been controversial would be an understatement. Michael Geist says the treaty is "a solution in search of a problem." James Love at The Huffington Post put it this way:

"No one who is pushing these treaties can explain why anyone who would get the right actually needs it in the first place, and there is no assessment of how this will impact copyright owners, consumers or creative communities and innovative businesses."

Thus, "slowtracking" the webcasting proposal is welcome news for the Internet community, says the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

"Extending the draft treaty's 50 year intellectual property-based rights to webcasters ... was expressly opposed by the clear majority of countries this week, and has consistently been rejected by WIPO member states in the last two meetings of the Committee in 2004 and 2005."

But while webcasting is out of the treaty talks for now, the EFF notes, the bigger question is for how long. "The U.S. ... was not happy about the outcome." Cory Doctorow likewise suggests that the issue will come up again:

"The US was put up to this by Yahoo and Microsoft, who have giant databases of webcasts that other people have entrusted to them, which they wanted to get an ownership interest over. Over and over again, the world's nations have told the US that this wasn't an option, and over and over again, the Chairman of the committee snuck away between meetings and stuck it back into the treaty."

For Doctorow, the question now is: When WIPO does again take up the discussion, will podcasters get a seat at the table?

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 9, 2006 at 09:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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