US Now Supporting Ridiculous Broadcast Treaty; Suggests It Could Cover The Internet Too

from the more-ridiculousness dept

Every few years, news of a ridiculous “broadcast treaty” pops up. This is a treaty that would effectively create a brand new copyright-like right for broadcasters. So, for example, if NBC broadcast some public domain content, it could then lock that up because of its “broadcasting rights” over it, even though the content is in the public domain. Yeah. This isn’t needed in any way, shape, or form. It’s just a handout to the broadcasters at the expense of the public. There is no actual reason to support it. Usually these talks go nowhere. Last year, the idea popped up again, but basically everyone who wasn’t a broadcaster came out against it, and it went nowhere. The US government has gone back and forth on this issue, but was generally seen as not being supportive of it… until now.

Jamie Love has been reporting from the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) meeting that the US has surprised some by shifting its policy to now support a broadcast treaty. Even more ridiculous? Shira Perlmutter, the USPTO’s Administrator for Policy and External Affairs (and a known IP maximalist and former entertainment industry lobbyist) is suggesting that it should apply to the internet too. This makes absolutely no sense, no matter how you look at it. Copyright already exists for nearly all content being broadcast. Those copyright laws apply on the internet as well. Granting an additional new copyright-like right for broadcasters also is only going to make things even messier with even more content being locked up for no reason whatsoever. It’ll also make it that much more difficult to actually do something (legally) with content, because you’re now adding the number of permission slips you need to get signed (and the number of players you have to pay off). Why anyone would support it is beyond me.

You would hope that after SOPA and ACTA, that the US government would hold back on overreaches in IP expansionism, but apparently that’s too much to ask for.

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Comments on “US Now Supporting Ridiculous Broadcast Treaty; Suggests It Could Cover The Internet Too”

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Anonymous Coward says:

This year’s basis for discussion is the proposal sent out by South Africa and Mexico, in which only the signals are protected; the content of the broadcasts isn’t. I believe the US also said it would support this measure as long as the protections only were afforded to that particular broadcast, and not the work itself.

Of course, this is still a bad idea, but I thought that this would be worth mentioning.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

(not trying to come across as against your comment, but more rhetorically..)

And exactly what the hell is that supposed to mean. Copyright signals but not the content? What on earth would be the purpose because a strict relay/amplifier/mirror? What is even the point. That sounds like getting your signal out to a larger audience without having to pay for the cost of doing so…

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I am confused by this as well. Do they mean that the pattern of electromagnetic disturbances created is what is protected? So you couldn’t capture and rebroadcast those even if you could put a DVD in a player and broadcast the same content?

If so, that’s even crazier, and would be logically inapplicable to the internet, where there are no such “signals”, only bits.

Kenneth Michaels (profile) says:

Re: Anti-Aereo

If it only protects the “signals” (whatever that means), it sounds like an anti-Aereo service treaty. With the Aereo service, the signal is captured and then rebroadcast (over the Internet) without permission from the broadcasters. How much of a transformation of the captured signal would have to take place before you have only the content and not the same “signal.” This treaty would also be an issue for Slingbox as well, possibly.

So, someone at the MPAA convinced Mexico and South Africa to introduce this treaty.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why anyone would support it is beyond me.

I think I’ve got this one figured out.
Broadcasters want a piece of the “income for nothing” pie, and the government’s policy of “more ‘protection’ is always better” is seeing a bunch of old content that no longer has any protective layers around it and wants to add some.

DannyB (profile) says:

One possible fix

One possible fix might be to get law on the books that makes public domain, or other free for public use licenses (example: Creative Commons) to trump copyright exclusions.

Thus, even if X broadcasts Y, where Y is public domain (or CC), then Z can also broadcast Y.

Rights override exclusions.

The rights to use granted from author, or granted in law (like fair use rights) always override exclusions.

If I give anyone the right to use my song, then NBC cannot take that right away by broadcasting my song.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘You would hope that after SOPA and ACTA, that the US government would hold back on overreaches in IP expansionism, but apparently that’s too much to ask for.’

that would mean using common sense as well as sense. problem is, those people concerned are yet again the same ones that haven’t got a bloody clue about copyright or patents, let alone the internet. however, you cant put sense of any sort where there isn’t room and it appears there are a lot of US politicians and people sitting on god knows what board that fall into that category!

Thomas (profile) says:

Bribery at work!

The government is just doing what the entertainment industry is bribing them to do. Businesses control the government, so why is anyone surprised at the stupidity of proposed laws? The DOJ is pretty much owned by the entertainment industry – just look at how many ex-RIAA/MPAA attorneys work “for” the DOJ and are probably still receiving paychecks from the RIAA/MPAA, but perhaps in swiss accounts to cover the bribery.

btr1701 (profile) says:


This will only last until some internet nobody gets there first and ‘broadcasts’ some public domain work, then sues the shit out of Disney or NBCUniversal or some other Big Copy conglomerate for violating *his* broadcast copyright when they happen to do their own big budget version some years down the road.

It’ll be funny to see the “But this was supposed to benefit *us*, not the little guy. It was clearly the intent of Congress– and we know because we paid handsomely for that intent– to allow Big Media to lock up the public domain, not for some pissant nobody to lock it up and sue *us*!” arguments they’ll try and make.

colin s says:

Proposed new broadcast copyright

This could not be introduced without fundamental violence to copyright basics – that for copyright to arise, the subject matter must be in a material form – which can be transitory or even projected on smoke – but a broadcast per se cannot be material. The anti-decrypting laws in many territories already protect pay-tv companies and the like. Broadcasters generally do not create the content they transmit – will they fight with Viacom over whose copyright is dominant? I can hardly wait for that one.

Broadcasts should remain as they are – non-material and therefore un-copyrightable. Leave copyright to content and associated rights holders. Technology can protect broadcasters.

The whole idea is daft but copyright maximalists sometimes get blind-spots when it comes to theory.

Sheogorath (profile) says:

Broadcast right on teh webz

I upload a copy of ‘Trolley Troubles’ to Youtube, Disney spots it and uploads their own copy so they can use ContentID (YouTube’s due process-lacking DMCA replacement) to get my vid pulled. I respond that the cartoon is in the Public Domain to get my vid restored before turning around and suing Disney for infringing on my broadcast right with their later video. How is that not useful?

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