The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) used World Intellectual Property Day on Wednesday to call for increased protection for the rights of authors and content creators.

The IFJ, as well as many other free speech and creators' rights groups, is concerned about a broadcast treaty proposed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The proposals would introduce a new and wide-ranging layer of copyright designed to protect material transmitted by broadcasters from signal piracy. The protection could also be applied to webcasts.

But the IFJ said the treaty could grant webcasters rights over the content at the expense of the original journalists and authors of the material.

WIPO should ensure that authors' rights are protected, said the IFJ, and that creators are remunerated when their own work is reused.

"We fear that WIPO delegations could go too far and grant webcasters rights over what they transmit that would deny journalists the right to control the content they create," said the IFJ in a statement.

"It must first and foremost support journalists, photographers and creators at large in the fight to control and benefit from the works they produce."

The US-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) described the treaty as "a protection racket for middlemen in the TV and internet worlds" and objects to the idea that broadcasters will be given copyright over content they did not create. EFF says the treaty does not address its main objective of dealing with signal piracy which, it said, it would support in principle.

"A TV channel broadcasting your Creative Commons-licensed movie could legally demand that no one record or redistribute it - and sue anyone who does," claims the group.

"If that wasn't bad enough, the US contingent at WIPO is pushing to have the treaty expanded to cover the Net. That means that anyone who feeds any combination of 'sound and images' through a web server would have a right to meddle with what you do with the webcast simply because they serve as the middleman between you and the creator."

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