Podcasters unite to challenge copyright landgrab

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Podcasters unite to challenge copyright landgrab

Electronic Frontier Foundation rallies the troops.

A new broadcasting right proposed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo) is being opposed by freedom organisation the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). 

The Broadcast Treaty seeks to allow 50 years of copyright-like control over the content of broadcasts, even when the broadcaster has no copyright in what it shows, according to the EFF.

The campaign group is urging podcasters to sign a letter opposing the treaty being extended to cover the internet. 

"A TV channel broadcasting your Creative Commons-licensed movie could legally demand that no one record or redistribute it, and sue anyone who does," explained the EFF.

"TV companies could use their new rights to go after TiVo or MythTV for daring to let you skip advertisements or record programmes in DRM-free formats. "

Some countries also support expanding the treaty to cover the internet. "That means that anyone who feeds any combination of 'sound and images' through a web server would have a right to meddle with what you do with the webcast simply because they serve as the middleman between you and the creator," said the EFF.

"If the material is already under copyright, you would be forced to clear rights with multiple sets of rights holders. Not only would this hurt innovation and threaten citizens' access to information, it would change the nature of the internet as a communication medium."

The Broadcast Treaty also does not incorporate traditional fair use, a legal defence to copyright infringement, according to EFF fellow and author Cory Doctorow.

"Fair use does not apply to the broadcast right. It will have its own rules for fair use, separate from copyright," Doctorow wrote on the Boing Boing blog. 

"You will have to pay your lawyer twice: once to make sure you've got a fair copyright use, and again to make sure you've got a fair broadcast right use. And you might get sued twice: once for violating copyright and again for broadcast right violations."

Doctorow encouraged podcasters to fight the legislation and sign the EFF open letter.

"If you are a podcaster, or better yet a podcasting organisation, sign this letter now," he wrote. "It will be presented on Monday morning to the Wipo committee that's creating the Broadcast Treaty in Geneva. This is your best-ever chance to be heard."
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