The Broadcast Treaty is an attempt to force the world's governments to give a new right to broadcasters, a right to control the use of works they don't own. The Broadcast Right will allow broadcasters to stop you from copying or re-using the programs they transmit, even if those programs are in the public domain, Creative Commons licensed or composed of uncopyrightable facts.
Fair use doesn't apply to the broadcast right. It will have its own rules for fair use, separate from copyright. You'll 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.
Worse yet, they want this to apply to the Internet. A few US corporations -- Microsoft, Yahoo -- have hijacked the US position on the Broadcast Treaty and now the US is using every trick in the book to get the world's governments (who roundly reject the idea) to create a "webcasting right" at the same time as the broadcast right.
This is deadly to podcasters. The webcasting right will break podcasters' ability to quote and re-use each others' work (even CC-licensed works), and other video found on the net. It will allow podcast-hosting companies like Yahoo to tell people how they can use your podcasts, even if you want to permit retransmissions. And it will hurt organizations that are tying to find novel ways to use podcasts, like
The webcasting stuff has been "narrowed" to try to make it apply only to "professional" webcasts and not podcasts, but this is a short-sighted view of the future of podcasting. The term podcasting was only coined 20-some months ago. The idea that we can predict what a podcast will look like tomorrow is ridiculous -- it's like designing a copyright for printed books ten seconds before the photocopier comes along and changes everything.
Luckily, the webcasting stuff is on the ropes. Mark Cuban, who founded Yahoo's Broadcast.com, has signed onto an open letter from 20 technology organizations that reject the webcasting right. Last week, dozens of companies, libraries and public interest groups signed an open letter rejecting the treaty altogether.
Now it's the podcasters' turn. EFF has created an open letter on behalf of podcasters everywhere, rejecting the webcasting right. WIPO is supposed to be making treaties that protect creators. We podcasters are the Internet's native creators. WIPO has no business trying to break the Internet so that it is better-suited to the business-models of yesterday's broadcasters.
If you are a podcaster -- or better yet, a podcasting organization -- sign onto this letter now! It will be presented Monday morning to the WIPO committee that's creating the Broadcast Treaty in Geneva. This is your best-ever chance to be heard.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.