Senators Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter recently sent a letter to the Copyright Office and the PTO, expressing their concern about the WIPO Broadcast Treaty. In it, they voice many of the same concerns that have brought together a broad alliance of public interest groups, libraries, technology groups, and communications providers against the treaty as it is currently envisioned at WIPO.
Specifically, the senators (who are, respectively, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee) are worried that granting broadcasters a separate, 20-year-long IP right in broadcasts could interfere with the fair use of works, as well as complicating the legal hoops that consumers would have to jump through. The letter also addresses the fact that copyright owners and ISPs could run into unintended liabilities under the treaty.
The letter ends with a strong recommendation for a more narrowly tailored treaty, and, if the treaty ends up looking like its current drafts, for the U.S. Delegation to walk away from a treaty that would be contrary to current U.S. law.
We certainly think it's important that the WIPO Broadcast Treaty not make a bad IP situation worse, and it's comforting to know that the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee agree.