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LCA Opposes Proposed IP Protection for Broadcasters at WIPO

On Wednesday, March 12, Carrie Russell and Lori Driscoll, still in Geneva for the WIPO meeting, gave a brief “intervention” on behalf of the Library Copyright Alliance, in opposition to a treaty for broadcasters.

(”Intervention” is a term used by WIPO that equates to a public statement. Until recently, non-governmental organization (NGOs) could not speak at all, but in the last few years the chair has usually saved time to hear from them.)

The Library Copyright Alliance continues to have serious reservations about the proposed Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations.

There is insufficient justification for a broadcast treaty, given the absence of any evidence of harm to broadcasters under the current international regime, enforced by the application of the Rome Convention and copyright law.

This lack of a clear benefit can be contrasted with the harms risked by a treaty that requires granting broadcasters an intellectual property right in signals. As part of their core mission, libraries house and transmit to the public a wide variety of media, including broadcast material. In making use of this material, libraries rely upon limitations and exceptions to the copyright in the underlying work. If these broadcast works are subject to an additional layer of intellectual property rights, with a separate set of exceptions and limitations, their current uses would become unlawful.

Libraries are particularly concerned about the impact on classroom instruction and distance education; educational and research uses; and ordinary public discourse. All of these uses would be permitted by the limitations and exceptions in the Copyright Act, but absent a parallel set of limitations and exceptions for the broadcast right, they would expose libraries to liability.

We therefore ask the Committee to seek a treaty that can accommodate the existing environment and system of copyrights, exceptions, and limitations. If a proposed treaty cannot work without overturning existing systems, it should be abandoned.

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Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.

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