The negotiations have been tough (we hear), but the 2007 WIPO General Assemblies have come to a close with two huge victories for the public interest. On the Broadcasting Treaty, while the GA agreed to convene a Diplomatic Conference in November/December 2007, we now have two welcome safeguards in place (document after the jump).
First, there will be two more meetings of the SCCR to work through some of the issues on which countries are still clearly divided (Technological Protection Measures, and coverage of certain Internet transmissions) and a “pre-conference” before the November/December dipcon. In effect, this represents a rejection by the GA of the recommendation passed amidst controversy at last month’s WIPO Copyright Committee meeting (the SCCR). The previous schedule included only a pre-conference, at which nothing substantive would have been accomplished before a July Diplomatic Conference. The four month reprieve and two additional meetings are good news indeed. The full text of the decision follows, below.
Second, and most importantly, the GA’s compromise has an escape clause that allows for the convening of a dipcon *only if all outstanding issues are resolved* in those two SCCR meetings. By implication, for the first time, WIPO has indicated that there might not be a diplomatic conference and a new treaty if all member countries can’t reach agreement. An eminently appropriate outcome if countries are not able to reach agreement after almost nine years of negotiations.
It has also been decided that the treaty will now take a signal-based approach instead of the messy, dangerous rights-based approach that is used in the current treaty text. This, too, is good news for the Internet community, and reflects the concerns raised by many WIPO member countries at last month’s meeting. There’s much support for narrowing the treaty’s overbroad scope to signal protection. The key question will now be how the next treaty draft reflects this in practice.
The colossal effort required to broker this deal was recognized when the meeting’s Chair said, “I would like especially to thank Mr. Jukka Liedes, who must have lost a few kilos trying to work out this agreement.” Liedes, the Chair of the infamous meeting earlier in September that closed by an unpopular “silence as consent” procedure, was charged with finding a compromise at the GA, and appears to have done so this time.
On the Development Agenda, there’s good news also. The GA agreed to continue the dialogue, and most importantly, to keep all the issues on the table, not just those that have the support of the developed countries. The Assemblies agreed to extend the mandate of the Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda (the now non-provisional PCDA).
And so we end this year’s WIPO General Assemblies with good news on all fronts. We’re mighty chuffed.