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Revenge of the Podcasters
Podcasters have raised serious concerns about a proposed UN treaty intended to protect the rights of broadcasters. The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) published a letter signed by podcasters and podcasting organizations stating that the "draft World Intellectual Property Organization Treaty for the Protection of Broadcasts and Broadcasting Organizations...and its proposed extension to the Internet" would "stifle innovation in podcasting-related technologies...."

The podcasters are also concerned that "the Treaty would require signatory countries to provide legal protection for technological protection measures (TPM) and is likely to lead to technology mandate laws controlling the design of broadcast-receiving devices."

Podcasters are not alone in opposing the treaty. A letter signed diverse organizations including Intel, AT&T, Sony, CTIA - The Wireless Association, the US Public Interest Research Group, and the American Association of Law Libraries asserted that "Creating broad new intellectual property rights in order to protect broadcast signals is misguided and unnecessary, and risks serious unintended negative consequences."

EFF, which also signed the statement, wants the House and Senate Judiciary committees to "issue a letter to the Copyright Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office requesting that they provide a public analysis of the implications of the treaty. Then they should issue a Federal Register notice to seek public comment on that analysis."

Winston agrees that a notice-and-comment process is appropriate. Winston also notes that any report produced by the Patent and Trademark Office would be subject to the PTO and OMB Data Quality Guidelines. Public participation and data quality are essential to ensuring full ventilation of the issues raised by the draft treaty.

  • See podcaster statement
  • See statement signed by technology companies, NGOs and other stakeholders
  • See EFF WIPO Broadcasting Treaty page
  • See Patent and Trademark Office Data Quality Guidelines

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