New Yorkers For Fair Use

© Copyright for the Digital Millennium
Joint Statement to Congress and US Delegation to WIPO  

Joint Statement to the United States Congress
and the Members of the United States Delegation to WIPO
on the Proposed Broadcaster Treaty

Wednesday, March 15, 2006
U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce
U.S. House Committee on Science
U.S. House Committee on Small Business
U.S. House Committee on International Relations
(Subcommittee recipients listed below)

Dear Chairpersons and Ranking Members:

Negotiations are currently underway at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to develop a treaty giving broadcasters power to suppress currently lawful communications. The United States delegation is also advocating similar rights for "webcasters" through which the authors of new works communicate them to the public.

Some provisions of the proposed "Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations" would merely update and standardize existing legal norms, but several proposals would require Congress to enact sweeping new laws that give private parties control over information, communication, and even copyrighted works of others, whenever they have broadcast or "webcast" the work.

The novel policy areas addressed by this treaty go beyond ordinary treaty-making that seeks worldwide adherence to U.S. policy. Instead, this initiative invades Congress’ prerogative to develop and establish national policy.  Indeed, even as Congress is debating how best to protect network neutrality, treaty negotiators are debating how to eliminate it.

The threat to personal liberties presented by this treaty is too grave to allow these new policy initiatives to be handed over to an unelected delegation to negotiate with foreign countries, leaving Congress with the sole option whether to acquiesce.  When dealing with policies that are related to copyright and communications, Congress's assigned powers and responsibility under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution become particularly important.  We urge two important steps.  First, the new proposed regulations should be published in the Federal Register, with an invitation to the public to comment. Second, the appropriate House and Senate committees should hold hearings to more fully explore the impact of these novel legal restrictions on commerce, freedom of speech, copyright holders, network neutrality, and communications policy.

Americans currently enjoy substantial freedoms with respect to broadcast and webcast communications.  Under the proposed treaty, the existing options available to commercial enterprises and entrepreneurs as well as the general public to communicate news, information and entertainment would be limited by a new private gatekeeper who adds nothing of value to the content. Communications policies currently under discussion at the FCC would be impacted.  Individuals and small businesses would be limited in their freedom of speech.  Copyright owners would find their freedom to license their works limited by whether the work had been broadcast or webcast.  The principle of network neutrality, already the subject of congressional hearings, would be all but destroyed.

As able as the staff of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Library of Congress may be, it was never intended that they alone should stake out the United States national policy to be promoted before an unelected international body in entirely new areas abridging civil liberties. Congress should be the first to establish America’s national policies in this new area so that our WIPO delegation will have sufficient guidance to achieve legitimate objectives without impairing Constitutional principles such as freedom of speech and assembly, without impairing the value of copyrights, and without granting to private parties arbitrary power to suppress existing freedoms or burden new technologies.

We cannot afford for Congress to wait for the Senate to be presented with a fully formed treaty calling for the enacting of domestic law at odds with fundamental American liberties, foreign to American and international legal norms, and that would bring to a close many of the benefits of widespread personal computing and the end-to-end connectivity brought by the Internet.  We ask Congress to use its authority now to shape these important communications policies impacting constitutionally based copyright laws and First Amendment liberties.
(Affiliations for individual signers are for identification only.  Endorsing organizations are listed separately.)
William Abernathy, Independent Technical Editor
Anthony Aiello, Development Editor, Reference Division, Oxford University Press
Moe Lawrence Aitel, PE, CEO A-TECH Engineering
David G. Andersen, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Scottie D. Arnett, President, Info-Ed, Inc.
Jonathan Askin,
John Bachir,
Tom Barger,
Fred Benenson,
Josh Berkus, PostgreSQL Project
Daniel Berninger, VON Coalition
Eric Blossom, GNU Radio
Joshua Breitbart, Media Tank
Daniel Bricklin,, co-creator of VisiCalc spreadsheet
Dave Burstein, Editor, DSL Prime
Michael Calabrese, Vice President, New America Foundation
Dave A. Chakrabarti, Community Technologist, CTCNet Chicago
Steven Cherry, Senior Associate Editor, IEEE Spectrum
Andrew Clausen, economics PhD student
Steven Clift, Publicus.Net
Roland J. Cole, J.D., Ph.D., Executive Director, Software Patent Institute
Gordon Cook, Editor, Publisher and Owner since 1992 of the COOK Report on Internet Protocol
Kees Cook,
Walt Crawford, Editor/Publisher, Cites & Insights
Chris Dashiell, Film Critic,
Cynthia H. de Lorenzi, Washington Bureau for ISP Advocacy
Cory Doctorow, Author, journalist, Fulbright Chair, EFF Fellow
Marshall Eubanks, CEO,
David J. Farber, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pennsylvania
Harold Feld, Senior Vice President, Media Access Project
Miles R. Fidelman, President, The Center for Civic Networking
Richard Forno  (bio:
Jim Fruchterman, President, Benetech
Anthony W. Gallipeau, IT Specialist, Newell/Rubbermaid
Laura N. Gasaway, Professor of Law, University of North Carolina
Paul Gherman, University Librarian, Vanderbilt University
Shubha Ghosh, Professor of Law, Southern Methodist University
Paul Ginsparg, Cornell University
Daniel Golding, Senior Industry Analyst, Burton Group,
Fred R. Goldstein, Ionary Consulting
Robert Gregory, I. T. Manager, Community Action Opportunities
Robin Gross, IP Justice
Shaun Gummere, Director of Web Services & Lecturer in Web Design, Simmons College
Michael Gurstein, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Jon Hall, President, Linux International
Chuck Hamaker, Atkins Library, University of North Carolina - Charlotte
Charles M. Hannum, consultant, founder of The NetBSD Project
Dewayne Hendricks, CEO, Dandin Group
David R Hughes, CEO, Old Colorado City Communications, 1993 EFF Pioneer Award
Paul Hyland, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
David S. Isenberg, Ph.D., Founder & CEO,, LLC
Charles Jackson, Adjunct Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, George Washington University
Robert Jacobson, Ph.D., Independent Scholar and Editor, Information Design
Saleem Jahangeer, Ph.D.
Stuart Jansen,
Seth Johnson, New Yorkers for Fair Use
Paul Jones, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Peter D. Junger, Professor of Law Emeritus, Case Western Reserve University
Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive
Cem Kaner, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Software Engineering, Florida Institute of Technology
Jerry Kang, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
Dennis S. Karjala, Jack E. Brown Professor of Law, Arizona State University
Ken Katkin, Associate Professor of Law, Salmon P. Chase College of Law
Dan Krimm, Independent Musician
Michael J. Kurtz, Astronomer and Computer Scientist, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Bruce Kushnick, chairman, Teletruth
Jonathan Lawson, Reclaim the Media
Edward Lee, Assistant Professor of Law, The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law
Andrew Lippman, Senior Research Scientist, MIT Media Lab
Michael Maranda, President, Association For Community Networking
Kevin Marks, mediAgora
Anthony McCann,
Sean McLaughlin, founder, Hawaii Consumers
Kembrew McLeod, Associate Professor, Dept. of Communication, University of Iowa
Sascha Meinrath, Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network, Free Press
Wilson Michaels, Software Developer (Retired)
Edmund Mierzwinski, Consumer Program Director, U.S. Public Interest Research Group
Lee N. Miller, Ph.D., Editor Emeritus, Ecological Society of America
Edward Mills, Independent Technology Consultant
John Mitchell, InteractionLaw
Tom Moritz, Chief, Knowledge Management, Getty Research Institute
Milton L. Mueller, Internet Governance Project
Andrew Odlyzko, University of Minnesota
Ken Olthoff, Advisory Board, EFF Austin
Andy Oram, Editor, O'Reilly Media
Dave Pentecost, documentary television producer
Bruce Perens (bio at
Ian Peter, Senior Partner, Ian Peter and Associates Pty Ltd
Jan L. Peterson, Software Developer
Steve Peterson, Independent Software Consultant
Malla Pollack, Law Professor, American Justice School of Law
Jeff Pulver,
Tom Raftery,
David P. Reed, contributor to original Internet Protocol design
Jerome H. Reichman, Bunyan S. Womble Professor of Law
Anthony Riddle, Executive Director, Alliance for Community Media
Lawrence Rosen, Rosenlaw & Einschlag; Stanford University Lecturer in Law
Bruce Schneier, security technologist and CTO, Counterpane
Charles D. Seaman, Citizen of the United States, Marietta, Georgia
Peter M. Shane, Ohio State University
Clay Shirky, Interactive Telecommunications Program, NYU
David J. Smith, Specialist of Distributed Content Distribution and Protocols, Michigan State University
Michael E. Smith, LXNY
Richard Stallman, President, Free Software Foundation
Fred Stutzman, Ph.D. Student, UNC Chapel Hill
Peter Suber, Open Access Project Director, Public Knowledge
Jay Sulzberger, New Yorkers for Fair Use
Penelope A. Swanson, Head, Cataloguing Division, SFU
Aaron Swartz, infogami
Bernard G. Tomasso, Librarian (Retired), Port Byron (NY) Central School
Rahul Tongia, Ph.D., Systems Scientist, School of Computer Science (ISRI) / Dept. of Engineering & Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
Stephen H. Unger, Professor, Computer Science Department, Columbia University
Jennifer Urban, University of Southern California, Gould School of Law
Eric F. Van de Velde, Ph.D., Director, Library Information Technology, California Institute of Technology
Tom Vogt, independent computer security researcher
Quinn Weaver, Fairpath Communications
David Weinberger, Harvard Berkman Center
Moshe Weitzman, Open Source Software Developer
Frannie Wellings, Free Press
Adam Werbach, President, Ironweed Films
Stephen Wolff,
Brett Wynkoop, Wynn Data Ltd.
John Young,
Endorsing Organizations:
Association For Community Networking (AFCN)
The Center for Civic Networking
Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network
Chicago Media Action
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Contact Communications
The COOK Report on Internet Protocol
Dandin Group
Fairpath Communications
Free Press
Free Software Foundation
Hawaii Consumers
Illinois Community Technology Coalition
Internet Archive
Ionary Consulting
IP Justice, LLC
New Yorkers for Fair Use
Old Colorado City Communications
Prometheus Radio Project
Reclaim the Media
Rosenlaw & Einschlag
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
Washington Bureau for ISP Advocacy

Please contact:

Seth Johnson
Corresponding Secretary
New Yorkers for Fair Use
275 Fort Washington Avenue
Suite 3C
New York, NY 10032
(212) 543-4266
cc: Representative Rick Boucher
Senator Byron L. Dorgan
Senator John Sununu
Senator Ron Wyden
Members of the U.S. Delegation to the World Intellectual Property Organization:
Michael Keplinger, Senior Counselor, Office of Legislative and International Affairs, US Patent and Trademark Office
Jule Sigall, Associate Register for Policy and International Affairs, U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress
Ann Chaitovitz, Attorney-Advisor, Office of International Relations, US Patent and Trademark Office
Malla Poor, Attorney-Advisor, Office of Policy and International Affairs, U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Attachment: Why Public Scrutiny of the Proposed Broadcaster Treaty is Needed

This joint statement is available online at:

Subcommittee Recipients:
U.S. Senate
Committee on the Judiciary
Subcommittee on Intellectual Property
Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights
Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
Subcommittee on Science and Space
Subcommittee on Technology, Innovation and Competitiveness
Subcommittee on Trade, Tourism and Economic Development
Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Committee on Foreign Relations
Subcommittee on International Economic Policy Export and Trade Promotion
U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on the Judiciary
Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property
Subcommittee on the Constitution
Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law
Committee on Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet
Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection
Committee on Science
Subcommittee on Research
Subcommittee on Environment, Technology and Standards
Committee on Small Business
Subcommittee on Rural Enterprises, Agriculture and Technology
Committee on International Relations
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations