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September 14, 2006

WIPO committee approves recommendation of the Broadcast Treaty to full WIPO assembly

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On Wednesday in Geneva, WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) approved a recommendation that the proposed "Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations" move ahead to a diplomatic conference.

What that means is that proponents of the Broadcast Treaty won this latest battle. But there are more battles ahead for the Treaty.

First, the recommendation to proceed with a diplomatic conference must be approved by the General Assembly when it meets for its annual meeting the last week of September (yours truly will be there).

If that succeeds, the next thing will be the diplomatic conference where final language (and thus the Treaty itself) can be approved. Said conference would take place early in 2007 at a location yet to be decided.

Now, without commenting in this blog post on the merits of the Treaty itself, we must note that opponents of the Treaty were complaining that the process had not been fair. "There was no consensus" several opponents were complaining loudly and publically on Wednesday.

Now, everything at WIPO and at most UN organizations is based on "consensus." That means absolutely no voting. Just the suggestion of a vote is considered an insult to the diplomatic process. Nothing moves unless it reflects consensus.

But an important point of clarification is needed here. Consensus does NOT mean that everyone agreed. Consensus means that no one blocked. And that's a huge difference.

In other words, there was consensus and the recommendation moved forward because no member state said in a public intervention that "we cannot support a recommendation to move forward with a diplomatic conference."

If even a single delegation had blocked the recommendation of a diplomatic conference, it would not have moved forward. Just a single delegation.

So it doesn't really matter if some are unhappy about the treaty. Yes, the treaty is controversial. But WIPO is a member-nation organization, and not a single member nation blocked the diplomatic conference. So it proceeds to the next battle in 2 weeks.

My point here is that the Treaty may be controversial in some quarters, but apparently not among WIPO member states themselves.

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