Saturday, May 6, 2006

Get Your Dirty Mitts Off Our Internet!

It seems that we have managed to prevent the big media companies from the US (MS and Yahoo!) from giving "broadcasters" rights above and beyond those given by copyright.

In essence the "Broadcast Provisions" introduced by MS and Yahoo - and opposed by pretty much every other country in the UN - gives people who do nothing but broadcast/webcast the work rights over it. Cory Doctorow explains on Boing Boing:

This is the Broadcast Treaty, which will create a new group of rightsholders, the people who transmit information (broadcasters, satellite casters, cablecasters, but for now, not webcasters). These people get a "broadcast right" to the works they transmit, over and above the copyright that goes to those works' creators. That means that even if you have the creator's permission to use a work you've received, you still need to get clearance from the broadcaster, whose only contribution to the work was putting it on the air.

Uses that are considered fair under copyright -- things you can do without the creator's permission, like quoting and parody -- won't be fair uses under broadcast rights. And broadcast rights will cover things copyright doesn't cover, like works in the public domain, factual material and government materials. And the broadcast right trumps the Creative Commons licenses that have already been applied to 53 million works in a scant three years; even though those authors want you to distribute their works, the "casters" still get to stop you.

This sort of thing is of course great for people who already host (though not necessarily own) a large amount of media. Or for those who have the infrastructure to provide the means to webcast this media. But for small people like bloggers and podcasters, it would make life very hard. Even if it was implemented, how are people going to keep track of who has the "broadcast rights" for some piece of media. What insanity.

While this is off the agenda for now, I'm sure it will pop up again. It was the hard work of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumer Project on Technology, IP Justice and many others that saved us this time. Remeber what Thomas Jefferson said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

Keep on Blogging!

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