WIPO Broadcasting Treaty

The World According to WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) "Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations" is protection, all right: a protection racket for middlemen in the TV and Internet worlds.

If adopted, the WIPO treaty will give broadcasters 50 years of copyright-like control over the content of their broadcasts, even when they have no copyright in what they show. A TV channel broadcasting your Creative Commons-licensed movie could legally demand that no one record or redistribute it—and sue anyone who does. And TV companies could use their new rights to go after TiVo or MythTV for daring to let you skip advertisements or record programs in DRM-free formats.

If that wasn't bad enough, some countries at WIPO have supported expanding the treaty to cover the Net. That means that anyone who feeds any combination of "sound and images" through a web server would have a right to meddle with what you do with the webcast simply because they serve as the middleman between you and the creator. If the material is already under copyright, you would be forced to clear rights with multiple sets of rightsholders. Not only would this hurt innovation and threaten citizens' access to information, it would change the nature of the Internet as a communication medium.

Proponents say they need this treaty to prevent "signal piracy." But the treaty goes well beyond that by creating rights to control "fixations" of broadcasts that only apply after you've received and recorded a signal. EFF and an international coalition of NGOs support a real treaty against signal piracy. We've drafted a treaty that does just that, but treaty proponents have refused to adopt it.

Before creating a brand new set of exclusive rights for broadcasters, cablecasters, and webcasters, there should be a demonstrated need for such rights, and a clear understanding of how they will impact the public, educators, existing copyright holders, online communications, and new Internet technologies. If you agree, tell your representative to scrutinize the treaty before it's too late.

» Action Alert: Let the Public Decide Broadcasting Treaty's Fate!

» Latest News: What's Next for the Webcasting and Broadcasting Treaties? May 12, 2006

EFF comments and statements regarding the proposed Broadcasting Treaty

Notes of EFF and others taken at WIPO Meetings regarding the Broadcasting Treaty

Notes from 14th Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights - May, 2006 Notes from 13th Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights - September, 2005 Notes from 12th Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights - November, 2004 Notes from 11th Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights - June, 2004

Relevant WIPO documents

Other resources