Report of the UK hearing to discuss the WIPO proposals

Subject: Report of the UK hearing to discuss the WIPO proposals
From: Heikki Poroila (
Date: la 23 marras 1996 - 05:31:18 EET

From Sandy Norman:

      I attended this UK hearing over three weeks ago and have only
      just got round to writing up my notes. I apologise that my
      memory has failed me in places. Others who attended, please
      add what they remember.
      Report of the UK hearing to discuss the WIPO proposals held at
      the Patent Office 30th October 1996
      On the platform were Jonathan Startup, Roger Knights and Brian
      Simpson - all from the Copyright Directorate of the Patent
      Office which is the UK government department looking after
      intellectual property.

      Jonathan Startup started up! He said that the government
      would not be giving its views prior to the Diplomatic
      Conference. He said that they were bound by EC rules and that
      the proposals reflect existing EU law and UK law in the main.
      The UK wants all 3 treaty proposals to go through together.
      They were not talking about dropping any of them.

      They were only going to discuss what they felt to be the most
      controversial Articles. The Copyright and the Neighbouring
      Rights questions were lumped together.

      Article 3: Notion and place of publication
      Roger Knights introduced this and said that there were
      parallels with the UK copyright act. "Making available" is
      the same as publication. He said they have hesitations on
      this proposal. Member States have expressed doubts and there
      has been little discussion at previous WIPO meetings. The
      place of publication determines the term. He said the
      Government was unclear about the precise effect of this
      Article. Delegates discussed it but nothing was resolved.

      Article 6: Abolition of Certain Non-Voluntary Licences
      There are no compulsory licences in the UK or EU law. RK said
      that developing countries are against this. The
      representative from the BBC said they and other broadcasting
      companies were also against it.

      Article 7: Scope of the Right of Reproduction
      RK said that this was close to what already exists in the UK
      so the UK will have to support it. I questioned this as
      although ephemeral copying may be included in our law, there
      were no exceptions given for lawful use, and gave the example
      of copying by fax. Technically this is illegal as a copy of
      the work is stored digitally while being sent. RK gave a very
      weak answer to this by saying that if the sending of the fax
      was lawful (eg if it was under the exceptions for library
      copying) then we have an implied licence to send works by
      fax! Librarians in the audience agreed that it was the first
      we had heard of it - not that it has ever stopped us doing it
      anyway. (Can we assume from this that we have an implied
      licence to scan and send electronically?)

      Article 10: Right of Communication
      RK said that this was closing the gaps of Berne! Regarding
      Neighbouring Rights, many countries of the world will not
      accept an exclusive right of broadcasting, but will only
      accept a right of remuneration. The UK would like to see a
      remuneration right only but this is unlikely to be accepted.
      I asked about the definition of "public" but I was laughed at
      - they could not possiblly spend time defining that!

      Article 12: Limitations and Exceptions
      I have no real notes. So either the discussion was so
      interesting I did not take any or nothing much was said! I
      cannot remember much about this Article, which is strange
      as this is important to us. I think the librarians amongst
      made our points.

      Articles 13 & 14
      Brian Simpson spoke on these Articles. He said they underpin
      copyright and related rights and expand TRIPS. There was much
      discussion. I made the point that exceptions should appear in
      the treaty language and not just in the Notes. One delegate
      said that unlawful conduct should only be for deliberate acts
      of infringement where profit is involved. Some said a broader
      definition is needed. Moral rights were also mentioned.

      The discussion continued after lunch but I had to leave then.
      Those that remained said that there were some sneering remarks
      made about user representation. RK and friends did not seem to
      think that it was necessary to seek or even hear their views.

      Sandy Norman
      14th November 1996

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