Asian Group's opening statement at WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights

On 21 June, 2010, Thailand, on behalf of the Asian Group, a regional grouping at WIPO which includes Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Tonga, United Arab Emirates, Viet Nam, Yemen made the following opening statement at the 20th session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR). With respect to limitations and exceptions, the Asian Group made a nuanced statement supporting the treaty proposal of Brazil, Ecuador Paraguay and Mexico in light of the book famine that exists for persons with print disabilities. The full statement of the Asian Group follows the excerpted sections dealing with limitations and exceptions.

It is important that norm-setting in WIPO should not be seen as limited to IP rights and protection but should reflect a broader social and development context. If WIPO is to remain the principal international body responsible for IP, its norm-setting activities should reflect the broader context of current IP debates, and if possible, try to address some ramifications of IP which spill over into other sectors, especially those concerning the common good.

With a view to bringing in greater balance, the Asian Group considers it important to have a framework for safeguarding the public interest, which is now being dealt with as exceptions and limitations clauses since such a framework does not currently exist. In this context, the Group welcomes the treaty proposal put forward by Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and Mexico, as well as other proposals.

As all of us in this Committee seem to be in agreement that something needs to be done to alleviate the “book famine” situation for persons with print disabilities, the Asian Group therefore urges that this Committee move forward on substantive discussions and not preempt any outcome at this stage.

At the same time, we hope that this Committee commences a broader and more meaningful discussion on establishing a normative framework for exceptions and limitations encompassing other areas of public policies.

Asian Group’s Statement
20th session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights
21-24 June 2010

Mr. Chairman,

  1. I have the honour to take the floor on behalf of the Asian Group.

  2. The Asian Group would like to congratulate you on your election as Chair of this Committee along with that of your two Vice-Chairs. We hope that under your able leadership, this Committee will be able to move forward on the agenda items. We wish to thank the Secretariat for organizing a briefing for this session of the SCCR and for preparing all working documents.
  3. This is already the 20th session of the SCCR, but in recent years little progress has been made. The Asian Group sincerely hopes that some agreement could be reached on the important issues before this Committee, which are in the interests of both developed and developing countries. Regardless of our regions, we share common grounds, including the wide recognition of the development dimensions of this Committee’s work, which could be a basis for moving forward. Therefore, we hope that all sides will try to bear in mind the benefits that can be derived by achieving a breakthrough of some kind at this session.
  4. Mr. Chairman,

  5. The General Assembly has encouraged this Committee to continue its work on the three issues before us in the agenda. With respect to the protection of broadcasting organizations, the Asian Group welcomes the study on a global overview of unauthorized access to broadcast content. We find the study informative as it examines different problems of unauthorized access of broadcast signals across the regions.
  6. The Asian Group would like to reiterate that while it is necessary to update the protection of broadcasting organizations, it should be done without prejudice to public interest, especially access to information already in the public domain. We invite the Secretariat to take into account this movement in the next study. The Asian Group is committed to moving forward on this issue within the mandate given by the General Assembly in 2006 to develop a treaty to protect broadcasting and cablecasting organizations in the traditional sense.
  7. With regard to the protection of audiovisual performances, the Asian Group urges this Committee to continue its work on the proposed treaty. We wish to thank all those who participated in the open-ended consultation in May, which was an opportunity for exchanging views to better understand different positions. The Asian Group would like to reiterate our readiness to engage constructively on this issue.
  8. The Asian Group would also like to also express our appreciation for the work of this Committee on exceptions and limitations. A number of studies mapping different exceptions and limitations in many countries have been undertaken and presented to this Committee, to help promote better understanding of the relevant issues. The Asian Group attaches great importance to ensuring a balance between the rights holders and the larger public interest. Exceptions and limitations to copyright are crucial in this regard. The Asian Group wishes to thank the Secretariat for the Report on the Questionnaire and the Second Analytical Document on Limitations and Exceptions, which will be a very useful basis in furthering our discussions in this Committee.
  9. With respect to the issue of greater access to copyright protected works by the visually impaired and other print disabled persons, the Asian Group appreciates the work being done in the WIPO Stakeholders’ Platform. We welcome the Third Interim Report of the Stakeholders’ Platform and appreciate the progress being made.
  10. Mr. Chairman,

  11. It is important that norm-setting in WIPO should not be seen as limited to IP rights and protection but should reflect a broader social and development context. If WIPO is to remain the principal international body responsible for IP, its norm-setting activities should reflect the broader context of current IP debates, and if possible, try to address some ramifications of IP which spill over into other sectors, especially those concerning the common good.
  12. With a view to bringing in greater balance, the Asian Group considers it important to have a framework for safeguarding the public interest, which is now being dealt with as exceptions and limitations clauses since such a framework does not currently exist. In this context, the Group welcomes the treaty proposal put forward by Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and Mexico, as well as other proposals.
  13. As all of us in this Committee seem to be in agreement that something needs to be done to alleviate the “book famine” situation for persons with print disabilities, the Asian Group therefore urges that this Committee move forward on substantive discussions and not preempt any outcome at this stage.
  14. At the same time, we hope that this Committee commences a broader and more meaningful discussion on establishing a normative framework for exceptions and limitations encompassing other areas of public policies.

    Mr. Chairman,

  15. These are the broad comments that I wish to make on behalf of the Group. Individual member states of the Group may wish to express their own specific viewpoints in separate statements.

Thank you.