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Senators Smack Down WIPO Broadcast Treaty

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the read-my-lips-no-new-rights dept.

Television 100

Tighthead writes "Two influential US senators want the US to support a pared-down version of the WIPO Broadcast Treaty that is still being negotiated. In a letter sent to the US delegation, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the ranking Republican member, Arlen Specter, expressed their concerns that the Broadcast Treaty 'would needlessly create a new layer of rights that would disrupt United States copyright law.' They instructed the US delegates to work towards a treaty that is 'significantly narrower in scope, one that would provide no more protection than that necessary to protect the signals of broadcasters.' The next meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee will be in June."

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Queue the WIPO Troll (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18275614)

ummm ... WIPO Troll??

I can't commit to this yet (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18275674)

If this is an internet issue, we should all wait until Senator Ted Stevens weighs in before deciding what to do next.

-Eric

This is out of his league. (4, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277372)

Joking aside, this is far bigger than an "internet issue;" it's a Copyright issue, and that means it's going to affect not only the internet, but virtually all types of media. When people start re-jiggering Copyright, they're manipulating the foundations that underlie (or undermine, depending on your point of view) our shared culture.

The proposed "broadcast copyright" that's being debated by WIPO would be an absolute disaster. It would probably be the most fundamental change in U.S. law since it was first laid down, because it would basically allow for re-copyrighting of a work without any creative input or modification.

Right now, if I take a work and simply reproduce it without any modifications at all, there's no additional copyright added. Thus, a photo-reproduction of an old work, like the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, is still public domain. It's only when I start doing something to it, that it becomes a new work, and subject to another 100+ years of protection. What the draft WIPO treaty would change, is that simply by reproducing/transmitting, a new layer of copyright would be created. So if I "broadcasted" the 1911 Encyclopedia to you, suddenly it wouldn't just have the expired 1911 copyright on it, it would also have my 2007 copyright on the "broadcast."

As long as you kept the originals locked away somewhere, so that the only way people could ever witness them was via a "broadcast," and then you didn't allow them to record or store those broadcasts, you could effectively extend copyright forever.

Correction: 2nd pgph, 2nd sentence. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277416)

Should read:

It would probably be the most fundamental change in U.S. copyright law...
Let's keep things realistic.

Semi-disaster? (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18278160)

I agree with your assessment of the situation that would ensue. But I think the net effect (pun intended) would basically be that a whole new generation of creators use CC or other sharing-friendly licenses for their work. Also, these creators would more-or-less *only be looking to free culture for input material -- it just wouldn't be worth the legal wrangling to figure out how one can use/remix/etc. a conventionally-copyrighted work.

Since we're talking about big pictures, I could see a real "fork" developing between those who cling to the old ways and those who embrace net mentality. Since I'm a free-culture advocate, I suspect the latter would outperform the former and become dominant (this is a 30-40 year process)

I applaud your sentiment, don't buy it though. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286370)

While there might be some sort of "forking" as a result of this, and I also consider myself a fan of the free-culture movement, I'm not sure that I think it's even close to acceptable to basically write off our entire culture prior to today. Because that's pretty much what it would come down to: the "public domain" as we know it would disappear, probably bought up at great cost by people who wanted to horde it and dole it out as 'broadcasts.' Just think: if you could round up all the extant copies of something, no matter how old, you'd own that work -- forever. Disney and Time Warner would be paying people to steal books out of libraries and burn them, just to keep the monopoly on old folk tales.

You'd basically be starting everything off from a blank slate, or what little of our culture are in widely-distributed repositories that can't be destroyed by people with vast amounts of treasure to spend on it, and I don't think that's exactly a bright idea. Culture builds on what comes before it; if you have to "reboot" the whole thing under Creative Commons licenses, that's a whole lot of development to just throw away.

Plus, what makes you think that they won't just eliminate the whole free culture movement via politics and technology? All you'd need to do was legislate a system into being that prevented "display devices" (TVs, computer monitors, etc.) from playing anything that wasn't encrypted -- to prevent piracy and porn here in the U.S.; "hate speech" in Europe, naturally -- and suddenly you'd just not be able to view anything that didn't come from a major studio. Or they'd get Comcast and the telcos on board, and refuse to push any video content over the networks that wasn't authorized (and they'd just block end-to-end encrypted traffic, in favor of schemes that involve a centralized peer to snoop -- easier for the feds to wiretap that way anyway): suddenly 'free culture' is a lot of underground newspapers and tape swapping, not too impressive in the days when "legit" movies will be available at the push of a button.

Power breeds more power; if we allow the media companies to stomp out public domain, that will only give them more, and from there, it will put them in a position to consolidate and continue to move forward. To me, that whole future looks pretty grim.

I cant believe this.... (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18275700)

'would needlessly create a new layer of rights that would disrupt United States copyright law.'

If that is not the proof all of you need to get a angry mob together to stand in front of the capitol building with torches and pitchforks demanding the heads of these to terrorists I don't know what is.

The fact that these terrorists were ever elected into our government throughly disgusts me.

yes, I am calling them terrorists, they are doing far more harm to the United states than all of the physical terrorists have ever done.

Re:I cant believe this.... (5, Interesting)

Krinsath (1048838) | more than 7 years ago | (#18275768)

Actually from reading the article, it appears that they're concerned about adding a layer of rights to the *broadcasters* not to the creators. What they're saying is that US law only recognizes the creators of content, not the distributor (which is in essence what a lot of broadcasters are). There was talk about the treaty giving broadcasters IP rights to public domain works effectively as well as very long protections on broadcasts. From the article: "The Revised Draft Broadcasting Treaty appears to grant broadcasters extensive new, exclusive rights in their transmissions for a term of at least 20 years, regardless of whether they have a right in the content they are transmitting," Those would be the rights they are concerned about adding to the mix, and in this case I can't disagree with them. No, you shouldn't have your signal stolen so that others can profit off of your labor, but similar you should not be able gain rights to something you didn't create in the first place. Imagine if that idea was applied to the Internet...that whoever was simply hosting the content gained any sort of rights to that content for their own sale and redistribution. Somewhat scary to think about there...

Re:I cant believe this.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18276226)

No, you shouldn't have your signal stolen so that others can profit off of your labor.

That's crap. BROADCASTERS are spraying "their" signal all over my property. Now, I don't mind point to point signals being private, but why should _I_ bear the cost of maintaining their exclusivity despite their _choice_ of braindead distribution techinque? Yes, it would be more expensive for them to run point-to-point to people, but I didn't _ask_ them to broadcast sodding "Fox" at me, they _choose_ to.

Re:I cant believe this.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18277068)

Just so you know, YOUR property doesn't include the airspace above YOUR property.

I wonder why you people allow yourselves to say stupid shit like this.

Re:I cant believe this.... (1)

skarphace (812333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277338)

Just so you know, YOUR property doesn't include the airspace above YOUR property.
And you're saying that radio signals never penetrate buildings or one's other property?

Funny (1)

StewedSquirrel (574170) | more than 7 years ago | (#18280744)

Radio waves.... they go INTO your body.

If the air space within my sinuses is not my property....

Then I'm scared.

Stew

Re:I cant believe this.... (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 7 years ago | (#18278236)

whoever was simply hosting the content gained any sort of rights to that content for their own sale and redistribution
Worse yet, every company who passed on a packet of data could claim rights. Owning stock in level 1 ISPs is looking really good right now. They'd have rights to pretty much everything on Youtube.

-1, Absurd knee-jerk reaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18275840)

If you have a problem with U.S. copyright laws, then those are what you should be up in arms about. As for this treaty, it only makes sense that any treaty the U.S. enters into should fit well within the boundaries of current U.S. law.

Re:-1, Absurd knee-jerk reaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18275968)

I am up in arms about it. I do write and advocate against all this rights limiting crap they pull. Problem is that it's like explaining quantum physics to the general populace that still can not understand that they do not own their music CD's or movie DVD's even after explaining it to them. their only reply is "but the TV ad's say own it today".

They are talking about the broadcasters rights (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18275872)

not citizen rights.
I swear, you terrorists that don't read the article do more damage to slashdot than all of the physical terrorists have ever done.

Very poor use of the 'T' word. (1, Offtopic)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276114)

The best definition of "Terrorist" I've ever heard was: "The use, or threat of use, of violence to pursue a political, ideological, or religious change when a non-violent option exists."

While the special interest groups and senators behind this bill are a bunch of greedy bastards, they are hardly using a threat of violence to achieve their goal.

The Bush administration on the other hand has used violence and the continued threat of violence ("fighting over there so we don't have to fight over here") to increase the power of the executive branch.

-Rick

Re:Very poor use of the 'T' word. (2, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276360)

What non-violent option was there to kick the Taliban out of Afghanistan or Saddam and his sons and cronies out of Iraq?

And now for going completely off topic... (1, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276620)

Not sure where you're going with that one. As for getting the Taliban out of Afghanistan, there really wasn't a good non-violent option, thus it was a traditional war. In the case of Saddam however, it's a little fuzzier. Saddam was so heavily sanctioned and monitored, it's not like he had any power to commit the same atrocities as he had in the past. He wasn't an international threat. And the people of his country, albeit stifled, lived in relative peace with one another. So if the goal was to remove Saddam for a position where he created a threat outside (or even within) his borders, we had already accomplished that. If the goal was to convert Iraq to a Democracy, then the non-violent option was simple: Patience. Wait it out, Saddam would eventually grow old and step down or die. Years of careful negotiations and marketing to make Iraq a more west-friendly nation would likely lead to a more liberal leader, and eventually the founding of a democratically elected government.

In either case, if our goal was to instill peace, prosperity, and democracy in foreign countries, there are some other nations who could have actually used our help. Somalia, Uganda, Congo... There are war torn countries across the world we mass Genocide is being actively perused and the US is wasting time, resources, and lives on disposing of a has been dictator who was already castrated.

-Rick

Re:And now for going completely off topic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18277238)

"Saddam was so heavily sanctioned and monitored, it's not like he had any power to commit the same atrocities as he had in the past. He wasn't an international threat. And the people of his country, albeit stifled, lived in relative peace with one another."

As a former Iraqi, I can tell you that you are full of shit. You have no idea what you are talking about. We did not live in peace under Hussein at any time. We lived in constant fear. Even during the inspections, innocent people where being tortured and killed everywhere all the time.

Re:And now for going completely off topic... (2, Informative)

gtall (79522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277518)

How blind can you be. The only people who lived in peace under Saddam were his tribal Sunni cronies. If you were a Kurd or a Shi'ite, you could be killed for no good reason. You didn't hear about it much was because it was a cause the western press could get behind. Oh, but let those naughty Americans call Saddam on it and then the Americans are terrorists.

Re:And now for going completely off topic... (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277930)

Hey, thanks for the response (and the AC who posted also)! I have never been to Iraq, I did my time in the US Marine Corps, but I missed both wars there. The very few Iraqi people I have talked to personally portrayed a slightly better situations, but I have no idea what part of the country they were from, nor to which religious faction they belonged. By 'Relative Peace' I was not implying that everything was suburbia Illinois, so much as that walking to your local market in a Shi'ite neighborhood would not put you at the risk of a drive by shooting, car bomb, or suicide bomber.

And I was not saying that the US's actions in Iraq were necessarily terrorist. There was a peaceful option, but as you pointed out, that peaceful option would undoubtedly lead to many unjust imprisonments and executions. Given the damage done by the initial conflict, the insurgency, and the sectarian violence however, I think that price would be small by comparison.

What I was specifically saying is that the Bush Administration's actions in the US are terrorist. They have used the perceived threat of force to gain political power. But that is a huge discussion (and debate) all on its own.

Thank you (and the AC) for sharing your input on life in Iraq, I'd love to hear more if you're willing to share.

-Rick

Re:And now for going completely off topic... (1)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 7 years ago | (#18280518)

I trust you and believe your story in the way that only an anonymous coward can be trusted.

Re:And now for going completely off topic... (2, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18278062)

The problem with the sanctions for Iraq was that they had maybe 6 months left before France and every other EU country voted to eliminate them. Some folks in the US government thought they had run their course as well, because it was pretty clear that the sanctions weren't working. Saddam got richer and built more palaces while his people starved.

The whole "Oil for Food" program was a joke as well and certainly eliminated any effect the sanctions had on Saddam and his friends.

So, the floodgates were about to open, one way or another. With Saddam having access to even more cash and no limits on trade and no more monitoring, what do you think would have happened?

Re:And now for going completely off topic... (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18279306)

"With Saddam having access to even more cash and no limits on trade and no more monitoring, what do you think would have happened?"

I could see it going one of 3 ways:

1) Nothing really changes, Saddam gets richer and richer, there is a limited, yet brutal abuse of non-Sunnis. While this situation isn't great, it's a hell of a lot better than many other parts of the world.
2) Saddam starts up a military missile program along with nuclear and chemical warhead research and manufacturing. At which point the UN would have likely gone in to clean things up again.
3) International economic pressure leads Saddam/Iraq to becoming a more west-friendly nation.

It's easy to tell everyone to f'off when the sanctions make legit exports illegal. But telling everyone to f'off when you've opened up multi-trillion dollar annual trade agreements...

-Rick

Re:Very poor use of the 'T' word. (1)

teh_chrizzle (963897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18278638)

Terrorist - noun

1. a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism.

2. a person who terrorizes or frightens others.

3. a magic word of american origin invoked to negate all logic and facts in any argument.

Re:Very poor use of the 'T' word. (1)

MrYotsuya (27522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18280156)

What non-violent option was there to kick the Taliban out of Afghanistan or Saddam and his sons and cronies out of Iraq?

The non-violent option was to not fund or support either in the first place.

Re:Very poor use of the 'T' word. (1)

StewedSquirrel (574170) | more than 7 years ago | (#18280816)

See, you made the leap already.

Here is the equation:

Problem: Islamic terrorists threaten the US

Goal: Stop Islamic terrorists from threatening the US.

OK, now the question lies in whether or not there is a way to stop islamic terrorists from threatening the US.

The question IS NOT "how do we kick Sadam out of Iraq". In fact, "kick Sadam out of Iraq" is more on the solution end than on the question end.

But there are alternatives other than "kick Sadam out of Iraq".

I am not saying that I disagree that this is at least a moderately justified action, but also pointing out that your bone-headed logic makes you look like an imbecilic ideologue.

Stew

Re:I cant believe this.... (2, Informative)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276146)

Maybe since you have absolutely no idea what the proposed WIPO treaty is calling for, and apparently no interest in educating yourself, you should refrain from commenting.

Oh, wait, I forgot - it's Slashdot.

I'll forgive your ignorance, but it's even more disconcerting that the mods apparently just as ignorant.

Here's a clue - this is a *good* thing. If you think you can get an angry mod together to protest that broadcasters should be able to claim copyright on public domain works, then, please, go right ahead. Frankly, I would prefer that more limits were imposed on the rights of copyright owners and broadcasters, not more.

Re:I cant believe this.... (2, Funny)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276260)

."Frankly, I would prefer that more limits were imposed on the rights of copyright owners and broadcasters, not more."

Me too! Although more limits on the rights of copyright owners is something unavoidable, the right measure would be to put more limits. The tough choice, after all, must be made by the Senate: more limits or more limits. I for one root for the latter, not for the latter.

Re:I cant believe this.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18276848)

How does it feel to be too stupid to RTFA and understand it before running your idiot mouth?

No really I'd like to know.

republican? (1)

clrscr (892395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18275808)

It is a little disingenuous to call Arlen "Magic Bullet" Specter a Republican.

Re:republican? (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18275842)

It is a little disingenuous to call Arlen "Magic Bullet" Specter a Republican.

Would it be more accurate to say he's a member of the Republic Party, then?

Re:republican? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18275918)

Because being a member of the Republican Party makes you something other than a Republican these days?

Re:republican? (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276778)

I think the parent is confused on what the Republican Party stands for post Reagan, which a lot of Americans are these days.

Gone are the days where the Republicans where the champions of citizen rights and small government. Now they are the champions of the religious facists and big business.

Re:republican? (2, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18275984)

It is a little disingenuous to call Arlen "Magic Bullet" Specter a Republican.

Why? Republicans aren't small-government conservatives anymore, at least on the national level. Most of them are big-spending, authoritarian, pro illegal-immigration, Amendment #2-only big-business lackeys. Hmm, take out the second amendment and so are the Democrats.

Don't get me wrong, in the above vs the above plus the people unable to defend themselves against an oppressive government, the first is preferable, but Reagan is firmly dead now. We'll see how Newt does.

Re:republican? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18276066)

Most of them are big-spending, authoritarian, pro illegal-immigration, Amendment #2-only big-business lackeys.

If Guiliani or McCain get the nomination, they won't even have that going for them.

Re:republican? (1)

clrscr (892395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277156)

Sad thing is I dont know if newt can get elected :[ People wont take the time to actually listen to him and his ideas for real reform.

Re:republican? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277496)

Sad thing is I dont know if newt can get elected :[ People wont take the time to actually listen to him and his ideas for real reform.

People would. The media won't cover him, though.

I recommend that everybody who "hates" him (having been so convinced by the media) to listen to ten of his podcasts [apple.com] , which are about 1:30 each. If you don't have 15 minutes to listen to any presidential candidate, we're on on the same plane.

I do think that somebody does need to buy Newt a book on Game Theory. He'll have 25 brilliant podcasts then throw one of his "My God is better than your God" ideas in for #26. It'll be a game of weighing who has the best ideas vs. their crazy ideas.

Re:republican? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277516)

, we're on on the same plane.

err... not on the same plane. Of reality.

Re:republican? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18279052)

It is a little disingenuous to call Arlen "Magic Bullet" Specter a Republican.

Why? Arlen Specter is a superb example of the modern republican party. He agressively supports the US police state. He is proud of the fact that not only does he not know what is going in in congress, he doesn't even know what is going on in his own office. He actively supports the subversion of the constitution and America. He is a sock puppet's sock puppet. How much more Republican could he be?

Public Domain... (5, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18275878)

Anything broadcast over the public airwaves (_all_ spectra is a natural public resource, spectrum "auctions" be damned), should be considered to have been placed into the public domain (it has, quite literally, but it should apply legally, also).

That should be the price paid to the public for the licensed, exclusive use of that part of our resource by a private party. They want copyright, fine - just use some private, controlled delivery method.

Re:Public Domain... (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276086)

Yeah, but this has the added benefit of placing your TV partially under the control of a third party. What politician would be against that?

Re:Public Domain... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276144)

yeah...except the 'privite controlled method' would be putting more powerfull transmitters all of the place and walking all over everybody elses signal.

The auction is a compromise, and a pretty good one.
For the record I believe firmly that is something is broadcast anyone is allowed to pick it up. You don't encrypt? too bad, so sad. Don't encrypt strong enough? so sad, too bad.
It's the redistribution that needs to be disallowed.

Re:Public Domain... (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276180)

"except the 'privite controlled method' would be putting more powerfull transmitters"

Uh, no, that would still be using the public airwaves. One example of private distribution would be via retail sale of DVDs.

Re:Public Domain... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277642)

So nobody could broadcast anything?

You do know that corporations are run by people, right?

So If You could broadcast, then so can they.

Re:Public Domain... (1)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18279460)

Nobody's talking about preventing them for broadcasting... but if you broadcast something that you hold the rights to, you surrender at least some portion of those rights.

Re:Public Domain... (1)

Eccles (932) | more than 7 years ago | (#18281788)

his mind is not for rent, to god or government. - Rush, the musicians, not the fat tard.

If you're going to quote Rush, it's "any god or government". Sorry to be nit picky...

Re:Public Domain... (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277472)

yeah...except the 'privite controlled method' would be putting more powerfull transmitters all of the place and walking all over everybody elses signal.

Erm, no, that would be illegal. What he's saying is that if you didn't want to give up copyright, you need to own the distribution method also. So, you'd need to sell DVDs or pump the signal out via a cable system that you own every inch of (plus all the ground underneath it, the right-of-ways, etc.).

Re:Public Domain... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277716)

yeah...that would mean there qwould be no radio or TV. I don't think that's a good thing.

"So, you'd need to sell DVDs or pump the signal out via a cable system that you own every inch of (plus all the ground underneath it, the right-of-ways, etc.)."

I see, so basically he is saying nobody should get TV, because without a way to get right of way you won't have cable.
And without copyright, you won't have satallite.
So no news, no descovery channel, no sci-fi channel, no sports, no way to advertise your DVDs.

That would never work.

Not necessarily. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18279852)

Not necessarily. It would just mean that you'd need to pay for the cost of creating programming during it's first run on TV, and you couldn't resell the same show multiple times. Which actually is how most TV works (well, worked; DVD sales are bigger and bigger now).

The way TV is traditionally paid for, is that the stations sell advertising time, and then they pay the networks (well, actually the networks themselves sell a lot of advertising directly; the locals only get to sell some of a program's ads), and then the network buys the programming from a studio, or produces it itself.

So, for instance, even if the Super Bowl or "24" went immediately into the public domain as they were broadcast, they'd still get on TV, because they make a killing just in their first run. It's the advertising shown during their first broadcast that pays for their creation; any subsequent revenues are just additional profit.

Now, it would certainly change the landscape of television, but it wouldn't "kill TV" outright. The business models which currently operate would have to change dramatically, but there's still a lot of money to be made in entertainment. As long as that demand exists, and people are willing to pay money for it, someone will meet the demand.

Re:Public Domain... (2, Interesting)

Microlith (54737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276164)

Congratulations, you just killed Television.

Let's see how many other medium we can destroy by applying your theory.

Thanks. (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276262)

"Congratulations, you just killed Television."

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Seriously, TV started and grew into a major industry based entirely upon the revenue of advertisements. There's a lot of early TV (and radio) content which is simply unavailable today, either because the technology didn't exist to record it, or because it was wasn't considered worth keeping. It had already been paid for, and generated profit, upon initial broadcast.

Your implied argument lacks merit.

Re:Thanks. (2, Interesting)

Guaranteed (998819) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276326)

Not to mention that anything broadcast over public airwaves IS free to pick up right now. For example, I have rabbit ears which I use to pick up CTV, CBC and Global. For FREE! Public airwaves, free content. This certainly hasn't killed CTV, CBC or Global. In fact, the CBC has almost built its success on Hockey Night in Canada being able to reach almost 100% of the Canadian population, whether they can afford private access to cable networks or not.

Re:Thanks. (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276678)

It had already been paid for, and generated profit, upon initial broadcast.

Really? Do you have any data to back that up?

Re:Thanks. (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277274)

Aren't most TV stations funded off advertising?

The exception being the BBC, but even they have already paid for their content before broadcast.

Most broadcasters don't get a profit off the service they provide, they do so indirectly via selling advertising time, and compare this to the number of people who would 'receive' them.

Re:Thanks. (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277488)

Aren't most TV stations funded off advertising?

I don't know. Are they?

They are funded at least in part by advertising, but I have never seen any data to suggest that this covers the whole cost. It could very well be that ads pay for 1/3 of the cost, revenue from cable companys' customers another 1/3 the cost, and DVD sales the last 1/3. In that case, msauve's statement that it generated a profit on the initial broadcast would be wrong.

As it is, I have no clue what percentage is paid by each of these things. Which is why I think arguments like "why should I have to pay for cable when it's already ad-supported" are stupid. (I know that isn't a topic in this particular discussion, but it has been brought up on /. before.)

Even if ads paid for all of the cost and other income was just secondary (already an enormous assumption methinks), that's still a far cry from generating a profit on its initial broadcast.

And even if it DID generate it's profit on its initial broadcast, that still doesn't mean that it would continue to do so if people knew that after broadcast it was in the public domain and they could download a commercial-free version legally if they didn't mind waiting a day or two.

Re:Public Domain... (0, Redundant)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276542)

Anything broadcast over the public airwaves (_all_ spectra is a natural public resource, spectrum "auctions" be damned), should be considered to have been placed into the public domain (it has, quite literally, but it should apply legally, also).

That's an excellent idea! Please let me know when you email your latest novel over Wi-Fi. After all, it's being broadcast over the public airwaves, so I should be entitled to it.

Honestly, did you think about that for more than 2 seconds before you decided to write it, or did you just check to see if it passed the "Slashdotters will love it!" filter and decide to run with it?

Mod up! (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276742)

n/t

Re:Public Domain... (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277512)

I have a compromise for you.

You surrender all copyrights to anything you broadcast onto the public's spectrum, but you're free, on narrowly-defined two-way communications bands, to use any form of encryption, encoding, or obfuscation that you want. At the same time, there's no reverse-engineering protection, so no whining if your encryption turns out to be crap.

To be honest, I'd be satisfied with retaining the current copyright structure but just getting rid of the bizarre anti-circumvention provisions, because that's where all the trouble we're in currently, got started. If you're broadcasting a signal that ends up in my house, I ought to be able to do anything I want with it. If you make it impossible to do anything useful with it, without paying you for a decryption key, well perhaps I'll pay you. But if your encryption sucks, that's not my, nor the government's problem.

Re:Public Domain... (2, Insightful)

radarjd (931774) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276560)

Anything broadcast over the public airwaves (_all_ spectra is a natural public resource, spectrum "auctions" be damned), should be considered to have been placed into the public domain (it has, quite literally, but it should apply legally, also).

That should be the price paid to the public for the licensed, exclusive use of that part of our resource by a private party. They want copyright, fine - just use some private, controlled delivery method.

What, then, is the incentive for broadcast? To be sure, some people will do it for the love of broadcasting, or the pleasure of creating something, but who will do the broadcasting? It seems like only funded broadcasts, which have some other motive would be broadcast. For example, someone seeking political influence might be happy to create biased content for free, while underfunded opponents might have difficulty getting their messages out. Would all content by necessity be created by the state?

What happens when someone takes the "private controlled delivery method" and broadcasts that (e.g. buys a DVD then broadcasts it)?

Are satellite communications also public domain? Cell phone calls? Can a broadcaster scramble the signal to prevent unauthorized interception?

Re:Public Domain... (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276846)

"What, then, is the incentive for broadcast?"

The same as always, advertising revenue. The fact that people were free to record original Seinfeld episodes (which made a profit the first time they were broadcast) doesn't stop them from being resyndicated - there is still a demand, and a profit to be made. Allowing them to redistribute such content because it's in the public domain would do little to change that. People are lazy that way.

"What happens when someone takes the "private controlled delivery method" and broadcasts that (e.g. buys a DVD then broadcasts it)?"

They would be in violation of the content owner's copyright, and subject to appropriate penalties. If the copyright holder had granted permission to place the content into the public domain, no problem. The more difficult question is whether an unapproved broadcast would still allow the content to become public domain. I would say no (same concept as "you can't own stolen goods"), but there must be protection from using this as a loophole (i.e. copyright holder sues broadcaster for $1 for each broadcast, with a wink and a nod). Perhaps immediate loss of the broadcast license after some very limited number of such violations (3 strikes and you're out).

"Are satellite communications also public domain? Cell phone calls? Can a broadcaster scramble the signal to prevent unauthorized interception?"

Yes. Yes. Yes. But the public is free to decipher to the extent they are able. I believe the US law preventing cell phone interception is a violation of free speech rights (free speech includes not only the right to say things, but to hear them, one is useless without the other).

And to the commenter who mentioned WiFi, read the comment again - I specifically stated that this should apply to broadcasters who have been granted exclusive use to use public airwaves. WiFi is non-licensed, non-exclusive.

Re:Public Domain... (1)

morsdeus (1059938) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276650)

How interesting. You do realize that all methods of information transmission that don't use cables (and even some that do) utilize the radio spectrum of light, I assume? So what you of course support is that all information transferred over all wireless networks of any kind is now public domain, including the contents of your email or even intranetwork file movements. Is listening in on your cellphone also fair game for everyone now, too? Do we require people not to use encryption on the airwaves?

Re:Public Domain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18276724)

You're being fantastically stupid. no-one is saying it shouldn't be encrypted - just that if something is broadcast, then it's fair game for anyone who can receive it to try to decrypt it (successfully or otherwise). This is already the pretty much the case for the 2.4GHz band of spectrum, legally.

Re:Public Domain... (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276904)

You're being fantastically stupid.

And you're missing the point. "Public domain" has a specific legal meaning, and the idea of content losing any copyright status simply because it's been sent over a wireless connection is completely idiotic. Put in a way that might resonate with this audience: that would mean that Linux loses all GPL protections if it's downloaded over a Wi-Fi link (or if one of its network hops is via microwave or satellite).

I'm not even particularly pro-copyright, but that's just amazingly bad. If the original poster had something else in mind, he should have said so.

Re:Public Domain... (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277032)

"And you're missing the point. ...

As are you.

"If the original poster had something else in mind, he should have said so."

I did. It helps to read the comment before replying. I specifically said that this applies to broadcasters who are granted exclusive (protected, licensed) use of some portion of public spectrum. It does not apply to WiFi, which uses spectrum as an unlicensed shared public resource.

Re:Public Domain... (1)

Zarniwoop (25791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18280074)

So if something is broadcast over the air, then it's public domain?

For instance: if you broadcast your SSN over an encrypted WiFi connection, and I hack in to sniff it out, then it's fair game for me? I have been wanting a new TV, so sounds good to me! You should have used better encryption. Or is it different if the entity being defrauded is an individual?

In my opinion, the fantastically stupid part of this is the original idea.

Re:Public Domain... (0)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276928)

all spectra is a natural public resource, spectrum "auctions" be damned

Yes, because the socialists who were running everything in the 30's declared it so. When are people going to realize that government is the problem, not the solution? Allow true, permanent ownership of bandwidth, defined by reasonable limits on range, interference, etc., and let the market take care of the rest. You may as well declare that land belongs to the people, and see how far that gets you.

Public Soundwaves (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277082)

I've never understood the argument that the "airwaves," the radio portion of the EM spectrum, a public resource, therefore government-owned and controlled. You can transmit many radio signals at once in the same place without interference -- especially with modern frequency-hopping tech -- yet you can't easily have many people transmitting "signals" by sound waves in the same area, at once, without interference. Since the air is considered a public resource, isn't there at least as strong a case for government regulation of audio as for its control of radio?

Re:Public Soundwaves (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18282942)

isn't there at least as strong a case for government regulation of audio as for its control of radio?

Um, ever hear of anti-noise ordinances?

Re:Public Soundwaves (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285030)

No, I mean, if government can auction off the ability to speak by radio on certain frequencies and impose controls over what can be said (see eg. the "Fairness Doctrine"), then why don't the same justifications used for radio also justify controls over normal speech?

(Obvious response: "But that'd violate the First Amendment."

Response to that: "Yes, but don't the controls over radio speech do that too?")

Re:Public Soundwaves (1)

Rakarra (112805) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286686)

No, I mean, if government can auction off the ability to speak by radio on certain frequencies and impose controls over what can be said (see eg. the "Fairness Doctrine"), then why don't the same justifications used for radio also justify controls over normal speech?



Speech has a far shorter range than radio. The problems of audio conversations interferring with each other and radio broadcasts interferring with each other are pretty dissimilar.

Re:Public Domain... (1)

multisync (218450) | more than 7 years ago | (#18278116)

That should be the price paid to the public for the licensed, exclusive use of that part of our resource by a private party.


Broadcasters already pay to license the airwaves from the public, and they are not usually the copyright holder of the works they broadcast. I don't think copyright holders would permit broadcasters to use their work if the result would be that work entering the Public Domain.

Now, if you want to argue that Copyright should expire and the work should enter the Public Domain after a reasonable period of time, I'm right in there with you!

Re:Public Domain... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18279476)

Anything broadcast over the public airwaves (_all_ spectra is a natural public resource, spectrum "auctions" be damned), should be considered to have been placed into the public domain

No. The current system where you can use it for any personal/private purpose you want, is just fine. Public domain suggests you can resell it to others.

All your method would do is to ensure that nothing good would be broadcast in the clear, and heavy encryption with DRM would be required by the public to listen to the radio, further taking away more rights.

The FCC has been far too biased towards business, but that doesn't mean we should make the airwaves worthless, and kill off any and all potential use of them that could benefit the public.

Instructed ? (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18275884)

I thought that treaty-making was a function reserved for the Executive Branch (subject to the "advice and consent" of the Senate; see article II, section 2 of the Constitution). So how can the two senators instruct the US delegation to do anything?

Re:Instructed ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18275952)

They can instruct all they want, it's whether anyone takes any notice of them that's important.

I can instruct you to suck my balls if I wanted to, whether you would choose to suck them or not is a matter of your choice.

Sucky sucky 5 dolla GI!

Re:Instructed ? (4, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18275988)

So how can the two senators instruct the US delegation to do anything?

Well, there's a lot of give-and-take, since the Senate must ratify any treaty before it goes into effect. Just like judicial nominations, the Executive Branch needs to consider whether a treaty or nominee will be confirmed before they issue their own stamp of approval.
 
In essence, these Senators are sending a message to the Executive Department that the treaty faces a tough time in the Senate unless it is narrowed in scope.
 
FYI, this is how the legislative and executive branches have worked out compromises in all but the most dysfunctional presidencies (Jackson is a notable exception -- the Senate and he couldn't get on the same page at all).
 
On the flip side, you could ask how the Executive Branch can ask the Senate and House to focus on certain issues, since theoretically they have no input into the functions of those bodies, only a veto power on the output. But it's surprising how much the two branches depend on eachother, and it's only recently that the Executive Branch has held so mouch power that it's been able to dictate actions in the Legislature -- and what we are witnessing here is an example of the pendulum swinging back to more Legislative influence (I hope).

Re:Instructed ? (1, Insightful)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276702)

what we are witnessing here is an example of the pendulum swinging back to more Legislative influence (I hope).

Why do you prefer 535 tyrants to one? Or someone who has to fool less than 300,000 people to retain power indefinitely vs. a term limited chief executive.

Re:Instructed ? (1)

sheldon (2322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276930)

To your first question... 535 tyrants can rarely come to agreement on any one thing.

To your second question... The size of congressional districts are more like 600,000 people.

I'd prefer it if the size of congressional districts were further reduced, down to 150,000 people. This would mean we'd have around 1200 representatives instead of 435, but as I said... 1200 people aren't likely to agree on anything, unless it's actually a good idea.

As to term limits. They're a HORRIBLE idea. When you place term limits on the legislature what you end up with is Rule by Bureaucrats. Last I checked, bureaucrats are not elected at all. This is the case in California and other states where this stupid idea has been tried.

Re:Instructed ? (1)

StewedSquirrel (574170) | more than 7 years ago | (#18280902)

With 1200 senators, the legislator would pass nothing, except "castrate the sex offenders" legislation, since that's the only thing that would make it out of filibuster. :-)

Stew

Re:Instructed ? (1)

sheldon (2322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18294640)

1200 house members... not senators.

Of course that is the downside of that proposal, making the senators heads even more inflated and egotistical. Just what we need... a super ego John McCain, as if the gynormous ego he has now isn't already big enough.

Re:Instructed ? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276940)

Why do you prefer 535 tyrants to one?
Gee, I don't know, something about dilution of power keeping one moron from doing irrevocable harm?

Or someone who has to fool less than 300,000 people to retain power indefinitely vs. a term limited chief executive.

Very few representatives have to fool fewer than 300,000 people. Reps average 690,000 constituents, Senators 3,000,000. And again, that power is diluted.

IMO, we need representation more along the lines of 50,000 to 1, so that the decision-makers are directly accountable to their constituencies -- which would mean distributing most power back to state and local governments.

In direct contrast to your post, the more people a politician represents, the less accountable he is to those people.

Re:Instructed ? (1)

aukset (889860) | more than 7 years ago | (#18279404)

The power of a senator is constrained by 99 other senators, every member of the house, the rules of the senate, the judicial branch and constitution, executive veto power and executive discretion on enforcement issues, and ultimately the people of his state. Never mind that some of that is only symbolic due to the two dominant party system.

The president has vastly more power than any individual senator or congressman as he or she has executive control of dozens of agencies including the military, the power to appoint federal and supreme court justices, de facto leadership of his or her party (including those in congress), and virtually unlimited power of the press to appeal to popular sentiment. A simple term limit barely counts as a constraint on executive power.

The most influential a single senator or congressman can become is speaker, whip, or a committee chair, and have some (but not as much) influence via the press as the president.

Remember the US government is three branches that are supposed to be essentially equal in power, such that any one branch cannot unilaterally impose its will upon the people. If any one branch grows in power disproportionately to the others, as has been occurring in recent years, the system begins to fail. A swing in power back to the legislative branch could be seen as a correction, making the entire system more equal. Of course, it will take many more years of this before the judiciary can recover from this administration's castration of it, leaving the country in a very tenuous position where the congress and executive branch together have a lot of power to make law and implement policy, but the justice system is in a weakened position to act as a check against those laws.

Re:Instructed ? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276316)

What it boils down to is that instruct can mean either 'inform' or 'direct', and in this case, it means 'inform'.

http://www.answers.com/instruct [answers.com]

Re:Instructed ? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276708)

The same way the president submits a budget to Congress even though money bills have to start in the House. (Or something like that. I'm really tired and my Constitution-fu is weak now.)

right... (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18275946)

The WIPO Broadcast Treaty is a complex beast.

Thats an understatement.

I don't know (1, Offtopic)

KKlaus (1012919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276154)

If I'm alone in this, but can we not act as if everything is a wrestling fight? They didn't "smack" anything down, and in fact the wording the article itself uses is "expressed concern."

Same goes to "blast." If I wanted to read sensationalist crap, I'd turn on fox. Let's not have any of that here!

Re:I don't know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18276746)

If I wanted to read sensationalist crap, I'd turn on fox.

Dude, this is the new slashdot. [slashdot.org] From the link: "My local TV news described it as the most important position to resign so far. Isn't Secretary of State the most important cabinet position, period? Articles from CNN, The UK Guardian, The Associated Press, and Fox News."

Can the courts rule here? (2, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276292)

If the Congress passes a law that encroaches on American's Constitutional rights, the courts can nullify the law by the doctrine of judicial review. Are Americans similarly protected against treaties whose enforcement within our border would violate our Constitutional rights?

If so, does the court get to nullify the whole treaty, or just its local enforcement?

Re:Can the courts rule here? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18276538)

Article VI says that the constitution and treaties are the supreme law of the land.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Re:Can the courts rule here? (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 7 years ago | (#18281704)

Modern jurisprudence puts treaties below the Constitution. There was a SCOTUS case that dealt with this (but I can't find a citation at the moment).

Is it ironic or hypocritical... (1)

geobeck (924637) | more than 7 years ago | (#18276712)

...that the protection of copyright in this case seeks to keep rights with the creators and away from the distributors? I mean, considering that the rights to most of what is broadcast belong almost exclusively to another level of distributor, and not to the original creators?

Read the article. (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18277920)

It's amusing to see people bashing Specter. He's not perfect, but he's one of the few stand-up Republicans left. 90% of the time he says something, it makes sense - he doesn't cow-tow to the rest of the party like most of those assholes.

The article indicates they don't want _broadcasters_ to have new rights over content.

This is interesting (2, Insightful)

sabernet (751826) | more than 7 years ago | (#18279036)

Let me get this straight...

A republican senator from the USA, is using US copyright law to strike down a worldwide trade treaty brought to WIPO that would give too much power to larger corporations and those with means in a not only easily abused draft but as well as an unethical transfer of rights away from the creators of original works...

I think Hell just froze over O_o

Re:This is interesting, but st.p.d (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18281232)

According to the US Constitution, international treaties may not be subrogated by the Congress, which includes the Senate, once affirmed and signed.

Too late.

Now, if WIPO decides that US patent law and copyright law - as well as DCMA - have gotten out of hand - that's called justice.

Re:This is interesting, but st.p.d (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283034)

Come now, do you really think that WIPO -- the World Intellectual Property Organization -- is going to do anything to weaken copyrights and patents?

Re:This is interesting, but st.p.d (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283556)

Come now, do you really think that WIPO -- the World Intellectual Property Organization -- is going to do anything to weaken copyrights and patents?

One can always dream. And since they don't like the US much nowadays, one has more hope than usual ...

Re:This is interesting, but st.p.d (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18284812)

WTF are you talking about?

According to the US Constitution, international treaties may not be subrogated by the Congress, which includes the Senate, once affirmed and signed.


Article II section 2:

[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur

Treaty-making is a power of the President, as long as 2/3 of Senators consent to the result. Giving advice (or withholding consent) is a power of the Senate. The House of Representatives is not involved in any manner.

Article III s. 2 requires that the Supreme Court and inferior courts must enforce Treaties entered into per II.2

Article VI. makes State statutes and State Constitutions inferior to Treaties entered into per II.2

Article I. s 10. forbids States from entering into Treaties.

Subrogation -- the substitution of one party for another with respect to rights in a legal action, debt collection or insurance claim -- does not come into it. I'm not even sure if you meant to use the word, since the legal concept does not fit the Constitution in any fashion.

Did you have any particular reason to use this legal term here?

Oh. It's also DMCA, not DCMA.

In short: the Senate is exercising its power in giving advice on treaty-making, and is threatening to not use its power of consent if the advice is ignored. Without the consent of the Senate, the President cannot make the treaty. This is natural and normal, especially when the Senate majority and the President are of different parties.

Just out of curiosity. (1)

Khaed (544779) | more than 7 years ago | (#18282654)

Why is there no mention that Patrick Leahy is the leading Democrat and, more importantly, head of the Judiciary Committee, but the party and "rank" of Arlen Specter is mentioned?

Not that I have any particular respect or admiration for either guy; they're both blowhards who are somewhat guaranteed their seats as long as they choose to run. (Like most of the more irritating Senators, including that douche Hollings who basically had his nose up the RIAA/MPAA's collective asses, and that toady Orrin Hatch.)

Re:Just out of curiosity. (1)

Khaed (544779) | more than 7 years ago | (#18282794)

My bad, I'm a moron and apparently missed the "chairman of..." part o the summary.

I wonder if I can smack myself in the face with a clue stick and still manage to yell "RTF Summary!" five or six times...
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