Thanks to reports from our allies in Geneva, we've learned that the WIPO General Assembly has decided that there will be no Diplomatic Conference on the Broadcast Treaty this year.
In my last post on the topic, I noted that the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), the subset of WIPO that was drafting the Broadcast Treaty, failed to reach an agreement, and reported this back to the General Assembly.
The General Assembly, keep in mind, was the body that had ordered the SCCR to come up with a draft treaty over the past year. Since the SCCR couldn't, as a body, decide upon the terms of the treaty, it recommended that the GA make the following statement:
1. The General assembly is invited to
(i) Take note of the current status of the work in the SCCR on the
protection of broadcasting organizations and cablecasting
(ii) acknowledge that progress was made in the process towards better
understanding of the positions of the various stakeholders;
(iii) recognize the good faith efforts of all participants and
stakeholder organizations throughout the process,
(iv) express the wish that all the parties continue to strive to
achieve an agreement on the objectives, specific scope and object of
protection, as mandated by the General Assembly;
(v) decide that the subject of broadcasting organizations and
cablecasting organizations be retained on the agenda of the SCCR for
its regular sessions and consider convening of a Diplomatic Conference
only after agreement on objectives, specific scope and object of
protection has been achieved.
The General Assembly adopted this decision.
Of course, this means that the Broadcast Treaty stays on the SCCR's agenda, and there's still the chance that it could be picked up. How likely that is depends a lot upon the leadership of the SCCR, and the lobbying power of the interested countries. The countries that kept pushing for a strong rights-based treaty (the European Community bloc, Japan, Costa Rica, and others) want to start off the next SCCR session talking about the Broadcast Treaty again, hammering at it until they get their internationally mandated layer of IP rights. Those who favored a more limited, signal theft-based treaty (South Africa, Brazil, Chile, India, and others) are pressing for the SCCR to take up other issues as well, such as treaties on access to information and limitations and exceptions to copyright. Others, like Australia, are taking a middle ground, calling for more discussion and factfinding on the broadcasting question, especially as more new technologies take off.
It's worth noting that the SCCR already has a treaty on audiovisual works languishing on its agenda. Even at the last few meetings on the broadcast treaty, artists' groups kept mentioning this, and asking when that treaty would be taken up again. So the fate of the treaty depends upon how the SCCR wants to manage its time. Both sides are noting that the Broadcast Treaty has been nine years in the making so far. Proponents of the treaty say this means it's time to finish the job. Opponents can point to the lack of progress in nine years and say that it's time to move on to more constructive things.