UN intellectual property agency ends annual meeting with plans to tackle broadcast piracy

5 October 2005

The United Nations agency that protects intellectual property wound up its annual General Assembly today, having made a range of decisions from giving the poorest countries a deep discount on fees for trademark registration to laying the groundwork for a treaty tackling signal piracy in broadcasting.

During their 10-day meeting, delegates from member countries of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) also agreed to continue holding intergovernmental meetings to examine proposals from Brazil and Argentina, supported by a dozen other developing countries, on establishing an agenda placing development dimensions throughout the agency's work.

Starting in January, the least developed countries (LDCs) will be able to pay 65 or 90 Swiss francs instead of the usual 653 and 903 francs to register a trademark in up to 76 countries and the European Union (EU). So far seven LDCs are party to the agreement: Bhutan, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Zambia.

On the broadcasting front, the Assembly reviewed a new instrument for the audiovisual industry that would strengthen the position of performers by providing a clearer legal framework for international use of their work, both in traditional media and in digital networks. It would also help prevent unauthorized use of performances in audiovisual media, such as television, film and video.

The intellectual property rights of broadcasters are currently covered by the 1961 Rome Convention on the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations, but a growing signal piracy problem in many parts of the world has made the need for a new instrument acute, WIPO said.

Pirating signals is responsible for the unauthorized distribution of cable and satellite channels.

The Assembly agreed to accelerate its work on the problem with a view to adopting a new treaty in 2007.


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