So two days of negotiations have gone by, and it's not looking like the various countries are coming any closer to a real agreement on the WIPO Broadcasters Treaty. You can hear some of the highlights from Day 1 on the latest In the Know podcast. A more comprehensive play-by-play can be found at KEI.
So far, the Committee overseeing the process has until Thursday to come up with something that looks like a treaty everyone can live with. From there, the committee will begin preparations for a diplomatic conference that will finalize the treaty in November. However, it'd be a huge waste of everyone's time if a diplomatic conference is convened and doesn't conclude successfully. And while that's certainly possible, it will take a lot of work over the next few days if that's going to happen.
That's because there has only been the barest amount of discussion on the current “non-paper–” the unofficial working draft of the treaty. Yesterday, some countries made general statements about their position, and this morning, a wide variety of non-governmental organizations provided statements to the Committee. (PK's statement ishere.) But those hoping for a quick resolution may have been disappointed by the afternoon session, which was mostly spent debating the preamble of the treaty. Make no mistake, though, these discussions have real import. Countries like Brazil and India, with support from countries like Iran, Pakistan, and South Africa, want to take language in the preamble that says the treaty must balance broadcasters' rights with the public interest, protection of competition, and cultural diversity. This was not received well by Europe or Colombia, and the United States was not a big fan of these provisions, either.
In the coming days, the Committee will move down through the document, debating each line at a time, hopefully until consensus can be reached. For a long time, though, it's been clear that while the EU and Japan are pushing for very strong IP rights for broadcasters, some major developing countries are pushing back hard. Two of the 800-pound gorillas in the room, though, China and the US, have remained relatively quiet. The US, however, feels that without more agreement than there has been, a diplomatic conference was not likely to be successful. The US also noted that it would be “unacceptable” if broadcasters gained rights that interferes with creators' copyrights or that are greater in scope than copyrights. This doesn't, however, spell out the US's position on whether a treaty should be signal theft-based or could allow for IP rights. The US also noted that they had come a long way in compromising by dropping their proposal to include webcasting in the treaty, and hoped that others would similarly compromise.