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Broadcasters need copyright for web age



New attempts are being made by international copyright experts to update broadcasters' rights to cover cable and internet distribution, reports the FT.

Member countries of the World Intellectual Property Organisation last week asked the body's secretariat to put together a draft text updating a 1961 treaty for consideration next June. Wipo members will then decide whether to hold a diplomatic conference to adopt a new pact, perhaps in 2005.

Wipo says a consensus exists on the need to upgrade broadcasters' rights to take account of technological developments including cable and distribution of programmes over the internet. A growing signal piracy problem and the hacking of digital television subscriber codes have also increased pressure from broadcasters for improved protection.

Digital transmission makes piracy easy because computers can download perfect reproductions of programmes for onward transmission via the internet or for copying on to DVDs.

Updated pacts extending rights for music performers and record companies to the internet were adopted in 1996 - but broadcasters and audio-visual performers continue to be covered by a 1961 treaty known as the Rome convention, which the US has never been ratified.

50-year protection for broadcasts, the same term granted to copyright holders and music performers.