Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Worse news - WIPO

If the news about the Smithsonian deal wasn't bad enough, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (and others) have pointed out that under the WIPO Broadcasting Treaty being considered now, any public domain work used in this agreement could become copyrighted - and controlled - by Showtime for 50 years.

From EFF:

"If adopted, the WIPO treaty will give broadcasters 50 years of copyright-like control over the content of their broadcasts, even when they have no copyright in what they show. A TV channel broadcasting your Creative Commons-licensed movie could legally demand that no one record or redistribute it -- and sue anyone who does. And TV companies could use their new rights to go after TiVo or MythTV for daring to let you skip advertisements or record programs in DRM-free formats.

If that wasn't bad enough, the US contingent at WIPO is pushing to have the treaty expanded to cover the Net. 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. If the material is already under copyright, you would be forced to clear rights with multiple sets of rightsholders. Not only would this hurt innovation and threaten citizens' access to information, it would change the nature of the Internet as a communication medium."

It looks like the Smithsonian has (probably accidentally) just sold their public domain holdings to Showtime in addition to their other works. Now, in addition to a bum deal for indies who want to make a film using Smithsonian work, tons of public domain work would become the property of Showtime screwing the rest of us as well.

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