National Association of Broadcasters knifes NPR and PBS at the United Nations anti-podcasting treaty negotiation

Jun 21, 2007 10:24 pm
From Cory Doctorow in Boing Boing:
The National Association of Broadcasters of America has broken its own by-laws and trampled the position of NPR and PBS, endorsing a controversial policy at the United Nations.

This week, the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization is holding a critical debate on the "Broadcast Treaty." This treaty would establish a new copyright-like right, but whereas copyright goes to people who make creative works, Broadcast Rights go to companies that broadcast other people's copyrighted works. The Broadcast Right isn't subject to the same fair use limits as copyright, which means that even if copyright lets you record a broadcast for criticism or parody, you will need to separately get an exemption under the Broadcast Right. More gravely, if means that if you license your work under Creative Commons, the people who distribute the files or air the program can overrule your generosity and insist that your fans not copy your work.

This treaty threatens the Internet as we know it. Novel services like YouTube and novel practice like podcasting would not exist today if this treaty was already implemented.

The General Assembly of WIPO has ordered Jukka Liedes, the chairman of the relevant committee to cut this out, instructing him to oversee a much narrower treaty that will block "theft of signals" (hacking free cable or satellite), while leaving all this other business off. The chairman has gone rogue, ignoring the direction of the Assembly and producing a draft that's even worse than the previous draft.

The Chairman isn't the only one who's gone rogue, though: the National Association of Broadcasters of America has been lobbying hard all week for the treaty. One problem: PBS and NPR -- members of NABA -- oppose the treaty and have not authorized the association to lobby for this measure.

"National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service do not support a Diplomatic Conference to adopt a treaty based on the April 20, 2007 non-paper because they do not believe the treaty provides adequate protection for the fair use of broadcast and cablecast matter for newsgathering and other purposes. Bell ExpressVu does not support a Diplomatic Conference because it believes the proposed exclusive retransmission right exceeds what is necessary to prevent signal piracy or protect investment and does not contain a reservation that would permit a signatory to limit or not apply the application of the retransmission right."
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