Broadcasters in Canada, England, France, Germany, Japan and 77 other countries have the right to stop anyone from recording or retransmitting a broadcast without their consent. U.S. broadcasters have never had that right. But that may change soon.
For years the U.S. has refused to sign the Rome Convention, the 1961 international treaty that affords IP rights to "performers, producers of phonograms and broadcast organizations." But the U.S. recently indicated it would be willing to sign a revised version of the treaty--one that would greatly strengthen the broadcast right. The proposed treaty provides that the right would last for 50 years, instead of the current 20 years, and would not only include over-the-air broadcasts, but also satellite and cable broadcasts. Moreover, if the U.S. government has its way, the revised convention also will apply to Webcasts--audio or video streamed over the Internet.
The U.S. government may seem like an unlikely leader in the push for a new, stronger Rome Convention. After all, the U.S. has always refused to sign the convention, in part because American broadcasters didn't particularly need broadcast rights.
So far, the proposed treaty hasn't generated many vocal supporters.
"Other than the National Association of Broadcasters and DiMA, I haven't seen anyone in favor of this treaty," Mroz says.