Ars on the WIPO Broadcast Treaty

by on October 31, 2006

Ars has an in-depth write-up of the Broadcast Treaty now wending its way through WIPO. Their conclusion:

The most consistent criticism of the treaty is much broader than any of these specific worries. It’s a simple question: “why do we need this treaty at all?”

As the CDT puts it, “proponents of the treaty have largely failed to articulate why such a treaty is necessary.” Most broadcasters make the case that they need protection from signal theft, but the rights found in the treaty often go far beyond preventing pirates from ripping off a signal. Intel argued back in April that “the treaty should be abandoned,” and many nongovernmental organizations feel the same way.

On September 5, 2006, a group of technology and civil liberties groups (that included Verizon, Intel, and HP) banded together to sign an open letter on the treaty. “We remain unconvinced that a treaty is necessary at all.,” they said. “We note with concern that treaty proponents have not clearly identified the particular problems that the treaty would ostensibly solve, and we question whether there are in fact significant problems that are not addressed adequately under existing law.”

iCraveTV was mentioned earlier as an example of the problems that broadcasters wanted to address, but it’s noteworthy that the case was resolved without any of these new rights, and that such cases are infrequent in developed countries, where existing law is generally sufficient to address them.

Sounds about right to me. And as the article explains, this is a rare battle where the good guys seem to be winning.

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