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SCCR/37: COMMUNIA statement on the protection of broadcasting organizations

In our capacity of permanent observers of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, we are attending the 37th session of the Committee, which is taking place in Geneva from 26 to 30 November 2018.

The following is the statement made by Teresa Nobre on our behalf on agenda item 5: Protection of Broadcasting Organizations.

I’m speaking on behalf of COMMUNIA International Association on the Digital Public Domain.

We understand that illegal streaming of broadcast signals is a serious issue, but as Prof. Bernt Hugenholtz recently reminded us broadcasters in most countries already enjoy solid legal protection against signal piracy and other unauthorized uses. Copyright protection is available to them, since broadcast content will qualify as audiovisual or cinematographic works, and broadcasters may invoke protection for these works under a variety of doctrines (such as “work made for hire” rules, or transfer of rights under film production agreements). In addition, unfair competition and criminal law also offer protection against signal pirates.

We realize that the existing protection may not be perfect, but if a treaty is to be concluded at the present time, extreme caution is needed, because the changes in this industry are occurring so fast that it seems extremely difficult to overcome certain definitional problems around the subject matter of protection and the delimitation of the group of right holders. We share the view that there’s a risk of either having an outdated treaty soon after being adopted or – if the definitions are broader – of having a treaty providing unintended rights to intermediaries other than the traditional broadcasters.

With this in mind, we would also like to recall that much of the content that broadcasters transmit is of cultural importance. In order to avoid creating new obstacles to the access to culture, knowledge and information, mandatory exceptions and limitations, that are not less enabling for users than the exceptions that apply to copyright, should be adopted. In addition, no rights should be given in works that are in the public domain or that are openly licensed.

Thank you.

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