Importance of intellectual property rights stressed

MUMBAI: While many of today's speakers dwelt on various technologies Richard Owens took a different route by focusing on protecting the copyright of content in the digital era.

Owens is head of copyright, e-commerce, technology and management division World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Emphasizing the fact that digitisation has contributed to the growth of piracy, he said that file sharing mechanisms on the net increase the magnitude of the problem. He estimated the music industry to be losing around 10 billion pounds each year. As bandwidth increases Owens warned that the film fraternity was next in the firing squad.

WIPO has two Internet treaties signed in 1996 which India is not a part of. These are WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances and Phonograms treaty. The aim is to prevent tampering of rights management information. It also aims at circumvention of copy and access controls. This refers to digital encryption.

"Our aim to is to promote respect for copyright at a time when perfect copies can be made and distributed across the globe. Another challenge we face is that of content neutrality. There is also the problem of collective management of copyright. Also to what extent do we hold ISPs responsible for the illegal content that passes through their gateways and facilities? This has been a subject of raging debate over the last few years," said Owens.

Another problematic area pertains to the rights of artistes not covered by the two acts previously mentioned. Protection attached to content creation must be platform neutral. We are looking at expanding our business models in the form of watermarking, DRM Technology," he added.

Owens also spoke about the broadcast sector as pertaining to their rights to prevent signal piracy saying," A new international treaty has been in the making for ten years. The last treaty was the Rome convention way back in 1961 and many changes have occurred since. The problem I have is how does one separate the signal from the content being carried on it. Do we also apply the definition of a broadcaster to include webcasters, cable casters?"

Owens also spoke of the WIPO dealing with controversy over domain names. Already 4000 cases of cyberquatting have been arbitrated. He gave the example of Lagaan where the businessman who had usurped the name had nothing to do with the film whatsoever. This has been done by the organization forming the uniform dispute resolution policy. The organization is also working on making domain names in other scripts such as Chinese and Arabic.


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