“See, If No One Owns It, It’s Not Worth Anything”

Weighing Webcasters’ Rights to Content [pdf]

Battles over illegal sharing of music online are so last summer. The hot fight now is over copying of video from television or the Internet that generally has been considered freely available to the public.

If television broadcasters and webcasters have their way in international treaty talks, they would gain new, 50-year rights to virtually any video they beam out, even if no one owns the rights to the content.

[…] The result, according to digital rights advocates, is that the viral power of the Internet to expose millions (or billions) of people to news or unprotected creative works will be in jeopardy. The seemingly instant, online cycle of people posting information, seeing it, linking to it or retransmitting it — as happened with the amateur tsunami videos — could be dragged into a morass of new ownership questions.

“This new layer turns every distributor into yet another owner,” argues James Love, head of the Consumer Project on Technology, which is fighting the treaty.

Related: EFF’s Action Alert; the Consumer Project on Technology; their broadcasting treaty page