GENEVA (Reuters) - Negotiators have made progress toward agreeing a
new international treaty on broadcasting, helped by a U.S. concession
that webcasting need not necessarily be included, U.N. officials said
Members of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are
seeking to update the 1961 Rome Convention on the Protection of
Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations,
which has been under discussion at the United Nations body since 1997.
But many developing countries had been resisting pressure from the
United States, and to a lesser extent the European Union to include at
least aspects of webcasting in any pact.
"It was a big move to take it (webcasting) out," said Rita Hayes,
deputy WIPO director-general, who is overseeing the work on the new
At the latest closed-door talks, which concluded last Friday, states
agreed to hold regional meetings ahead of the next round of treaty
negotiations scheduled for mid-2005, officials said.
"We have made progress," Hayes told a news conference.
But she added it was not certain that one more negotiating session
would be enough for states to call a diplomatic conference, the final
step in the treaty-making process.
In any case, such a conference appeared unlikely before 2006 at the
earliest because the decision to call one would have to be approved by
WIPO's next general assembly, which will not be held before next
autumn, diplomats noted.
The need to update the existing treaty, which pre-dates much of modern
television technology, has been made more acute by a growing
signal-piracy problem in many parts of the world.
Signal piracy, a problem particularly affecting developing countries,
was growing at between 11 and 14 percent a year in Asia, leading to
significant loss of income for broadcasters, Hayes said.
Piracy is one thing on which states agree on the need to act, with
some developing countries, led by Brazil, Argentina, India and Egypt,
seeking to limit the scope of the treaty largely to that issue.
Their stance is backed by many activist organizations, which
question whether the broadcasters need any further protection than
that already given them by international copyright and other existing
forms of intellectual property protection.
The scope of a future treaty, as well as the duration of any
protection granted, are two of the issues still outstanding,
U.N. officials said. Some countries want the period of protection
limited to 20 years, while others are pushing for 50.
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