WIPO working on new treaty for b'casters

MUMBAI: With new technologies like broadband emerging, the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) is developing a treaty, which will update the rights of broadcasters in a digital scenario.

WIPO has noted that broadcasters are facing an increase in costs for acquiring properties. An example is the rights for sporting events like cricket and the Olympics. TV advertising has slowed down in many markets. However, this phenomenon is yet to hit India. In this global environment subscription revenue has become the main source of income for broadcasters.

Speaking at Frames, WIPO Deputy DG Rita Hayes said, "A competitive broadcasting marketplace increasingly relies on diversified delivery modes and the ability to sub-licence owned programmes. Broadcast signals need to be traded on different platforms, be it cable or DTH.

"However very often broadcasters are not in a position to control how their signals are being distributed. A CASBAA study shows that signal theft is growing at the rate of 11 per cent a year. The acquired rights lose all value when signals of premium content like sports events are intercepted without payment and authorisation. The expected income from sub-licensing to other channels is reduced to nothing," she said.

Hayes added that WIPO recognises that the time has come to anchor broadcast rights in an international regulatory framework. This will improve the performance of the broadcasting industry. She said all the creative industries would benefit from a level playing field. "Controlling signal piracy will legalise the content distribution market," she explained.

With new technologies comes the threat of piracy. WIPO is assisting member states in strengthening their enforcement mechanisms through training activities for legal authorities and police. "However, many countries are not doing enough to improve enforcement," said Hayes, adding, "It's not surprising then that you find counterfeiting and piracy are big businesses in many countries."

WIPO is working to convince policymakers in these countries that their economies and citizens will benefit in many ways if piracy is arrested. "We explain to countries that tolerating piracy will get them no respect from the world," she said.

WIPO has several ways increasing awareness about piracy across the world. When Dr Kamal Idris became WIPO DG he launched an Intellectual Property demystification campaign. It means educating people that intellectual property is not an obscure legal concept but a daily occurrence in their lives.

Copyrights and patents make the world go round. The campaign also Highlights the importance of giving due regard to the creative industries. WIPO recently produced a mini-series on creativity called Creative Planet.

Hayes concluded by urging India to make the most of its experience with other countries. "Come to Geneva. Use the WIPO secretariat as a forum for dialogue where nations can meet the challenges we all face. India is a leader in the creative industries space," she said.

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