Earlier this month an industry group of communications, computer and consumer electronics companies as well as trade associations, sent this letter to the Copyright Office regarding the WIPO Broadcast Treaty. The companies and associations who signed the letter are At&T, BellSouth, Broadband Service Providers Association, Consumer Electronics Association, Computer and Communcations Industry Association, Dell, Intel, RadioShack, Panasonic, Sony, TiVo, Verizon, and the US Telecom Assocation.
While the Copyright Office had engaged the group to provide a definition of webcasting for WIPO, the group first provided an outline of its objections to the WIPO draft treaty:
- The scope of the Treaty must be limited to signal theft and should not provide broad intellectual property rights to broadcasting organizations in the signals they transmit
- A term of protection is not needed in a signal theft treaty
- Without narrowing the scope there could be significant intermediary liability for networks
- Limitations and Exceptions should be symmetrical to those provided by contracting parties in their national law to permit, among other things, personal use of broadcasts
- The TPM provision may have unintended consequences, and if left in the treaty at all, should be limited to intentional theft or misappropriation of signals
The group did provide a webcasting definition, or what they prefer to call IP/casting, but stressed that its support is contingent upon narrowing the scope of the treaty. “[W]e only support this definition [of IP casting] if the Treaty is sufficiently narrowed to signal Protection.”
What we don't want to happen is for the US delegation to use this definition of IP/web casting, claim that it has industry support for it, but totally ignore the preceding two pages of objections and include it in a Treaty that fails to narrow the scope.