Thursday, January 18, 2007

Statement by the United States @ WIPO SCCR (Day 1)

January 17, 2007

The United States Government would like to congratulate the Chair and his Vice-Chairs on their election and also welcome and congratulate the new Deputy Director General of WIPO. Mr. Chairman, the United States supports the statement of Italy on behalf of Group B. We are in an important phase of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights as we start this Special Session and your leadership, and well-known diplomatic skills, will be pivotal to advance and conclude a new treaty on the protection of the rights of broadcasting organizations. We support the method of work you have outlined this morning, and will offer comments on your papers at the appropriate time.

The United States was pleased with the decision of the 33rd Session of the General Assemblies to hold 2 special sessions of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights to clarify the outstanding issues. That decision states that “the sessions of the SCCR should aim to agree and finalize, on a signal-based approach, the objectives, specific scope and object of protection with a view to submitting to the Diplomatic Conference a revised basic proposal, which will amend the agreed relevant parts of the Revised Draft Basic Proposal of SCCR 15/2. The Diplomatic Conference will be convened if such agreement is achieved.”

The United States continues to believe in, and will be guided in this meeting and the June meeting by, the critical question of what do broadcasters need at a minimum to protect against the unauthorized interception and transmission of their signals, and by the consideration that any protection should be based on answering that important question.

The expectation of the United States is that the decision of the General Assemblies, focusing on a more limited and narrow signal-based approach to this treaty, will be respected. To that end, all of us have an important opportunity and responsibility to revise the current basic proposal, 15/2. As we stated at the September 2006 SCCR and repeated at the General Assemblies, proceeding to a Diplomatic Conference using a 108 page document with few agreed provisions does not make for a text stable enough to be considered a Basic Proposal.

15/2, in our view, must be substantially narrowed to meet the criteria set forth in the decision of the General Assemblies. At a minimum, we believe this means agreement on the scope of protection providing broadcasters with what they need to protect against signal piracy while not undermining the rights of the underlying content holders or the public interest. As we have noted before, certain provisions in the current draft would undermine any protection provided under the treaty. The United States believes that resolution of those issues is integral to resolving the scope and object of protection. Furthermore, we must be sure to avoid any unintended consequences with regard to current and future technological advances. Protection for technological protection measures and exceptions and limitations consistent with international treaties remain critical components for any convention.

Throughout this process, the United States Government has sought to achieve a treaty that is reasonably up-to-date given the state of technology now and in the reasonably foreseeable future. Fundamental to this is a treaty including, at a minimum, protection for its beneficiaries against the unauthorized simultaneous retransmission of broadcast signals over the Internet. We consider the major threat to broadcasters today to be that which arises when someone places their signal on the Internet without permission.

Since the beginning of our discussions at WIPO on this issue of protection for broadcasters, the United States has scaled back its ambition for the treaty as reflected by the withdrawal of its own proposal which proposed, on a technologically neutral basis, protection for netcasting organizations. The United States believes that flexibility in this process is required of all member states in order to achieve an agreement that will enjoy consensus. However, an agreement without identifiable benefits for broadcasting and cablecasting organizations will be a pointless exercise, particularly if it derogates from existing protections and sets negative precedents.

We hope all member states will demonstrate the necessary flexibility so that we can achieve a positive outcome. We remain committed to the successful conclusion of a treaty that responds to the needs of all stakeholders. We are confident that you will ably guide our discussions going forward and we stand ready to assist you.