Over the years, Governments of the Caribbean have recognized the vital importance of communication and information, and especially broadcasting to the social and economic development of the region. As a result they have made significant investments in broadcasting, which have been rewarded with a vibrant sector involving both state and private interests, which makes critical contributions nationally, regionally and globally.
This very dynamic sector enjoys wide opportunity, in large part driven by technological development. However, these technological advances have also given rise to significant threats to the continued survival of the sector. Broadcasters in the Caribbean, like their colleagues globally, are suffering many kinds of predatory practices including piracy of their intellectual property.
This particular challenge has been recognized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) which is working on a new treaty to update legal protection of broadcast signals at the international level. The CBU and its members are keen to be proactively involved in this process so as to ensure that it will provide new tools for Caribbean broadcasters to remedy the serious problem of signal piracy that harms their ability to provide top quality services to their audiences in the region. Piracy of broadcast signals harms not only the broadcasting organizations but also the owners of content in the broadcast, including authors, producers, performers and other contributors to the broadcasters’ output. Protecting the broadcast signal also protects the interests of their audiences in receiving quality broadcast programming in the most convenient ways.
The next meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) takes place in April 29-May 2 2014. The Committee will continue text based work with a view to finalizing a Draft Treaty Proposal that would be a the basis for final negotiations at a Diplomatic Conference, which many delegations hope can take place sometime in 2015.
The objective of the proposed treaty is to update the international regime for protection of broadcasting organisations which is wholly outdated having been established in 1961 as it does not address cable, satellite or internet technologies. The rights of other stakeholders have been updated to this end in 1996 by the WCT and WPPT, and in 2012 for performers of audio visual works. It is not only broadcasters whose rights have not been updated, and hence this is a priority matter at the SCCR. The objective is to provide broadcasters modern day protection in a manner that does not compromise the rights of holders of copyright and related rights in works and other protected subject matter carried by broadcasts. A number of proposals are under consideration but the CBU believes that the one submitted jointly by Mexico and South Africa (the “alternative A” parts of the SCCR working document) provides the preferred basis for work.
Please find attached some background information on the proposed Treaty as well as the draft proposal, which we believe is in the best interest of broadcasters and all stakeholders, especially in the Caribbean. The Secretariat of the CBU also stands ready to provide additional responses to any questions you may have on this issue.
The member systems of the CBU, strongly urge your advocacy and support for the Broadcasters’ Treaty, by means of vocal interventions at the forthcoming SCCRs, and for finalizing work on a text to go forward to a Diplomatic Conference in 2015.