October 06, 2006 | Michael Holloway

WIPO Broadcast Treaty scheduled for further scrutiny

There are concerns proposed WIPO legislation will further extend the social and cultural dominance of trad broadcasters over the internet, as mentioned here on this blog. An announcement this week by the WIPO General Assembly regarding the draft Broadcast Treaty offers encouragement to activists, and has been hailed as a "huge victory for the public interest." Reports call for celebration on two counts.

The proposed legislation will now at least face further scrutiny. Rather than procede directly to a Diplomatic Conference (DC) next Summer - WIPO's mechanism for passing new laws - the draft will be considered in two interim meetings intended to bring about a consensus. The draft's sponsors hoped to avoid this scrutiny and simply force the legislation through, but popular opposition from a broad consensus, and disagreement amongst signatories evidently required WIPO to think more carefully. India, Brazil and the US led the calls for further review.

In addition to scheduling further discussions on the draft, it was decided to reject the controversial rights-based approach in favour of a signal-based mechanism. So the needless extension of exclusive control over 3rd party cultural productions has been rejected, in favour of legislation which pursues the less protectionist agenda of preventing theft of broadcaster's signals.

This news is genuinely heartening. WIPO gets a lot of stick for its un-democratic methods, but this announcement suggests activists and academics can influence even the most elite bureaucrats. And beyond that, the expansion of protectionist IP regimes is not inevitable; let's hope we score a similar victory with our Release the Music campaign...