Digital Civil Rights in Europe

Article published in EDRi-gram 8.3

On January 28 and 29, the Council of Europe held a consultation meeting on the launch of work on a new international instrument that would create neighbouring rights for broadcasting organisations. The purpose of this initiative is to take up the work of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) which, following twelve years of negotiation has been unable to reach any agreement on the objectives and scope of a proposed treaty for the protection of broadcasters and cablecasters. The draft WIPO treaty has been proposed as the basis for negotiations at the Council of Europe.

Negotiations at WIPO have stalled over two issues concerning the scope of the proposed treaty. First, the majority of WIPO’s Member States want any treaty to be limited to protecting broadcasters’ signals, rather than creating 50 year intellectual property rights to the content carried by those signals, which in most cases, is already protected by copyright. Second, many countries oppose the extension of the treaty to the Internet because that would restrict freedom of expression and the free flow of information on the Internet. Despite this, broadcasters have continued to press for treaty based on IP rights, and want exclusive rights over Internet retransmissions of recorded broadcast and cablecast programming. The current draft WIPO treaty also includes a number of other elements that raise concerns for consumers’ existing rights under national copyright laws, competition policy, and innovation, including obligations for legal entrenchment of broadcasters’ and cablecasters’ technological protection measures and an overbroad ban on decryption devices that would extend to personal computers.

See the entire article published in EDRi-gram 8.3

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