Interesting things are happening at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the specialised organ of the UN that is probably best known in recent years for its role in the negotiation of the ‘Internet Treaties’. There’s a meeting tomorrow in Barcelona (or as Freddie Mercury would say, Bar-ce-lo-na!. BoingBoing says quite bluntly that they are meeting to screw up podcasting. WIPO itself goes with the slightly more sober “Barcelona seminar to discuss broadcasting issues” … the truth is somewhere in between.

The mere fact that the seminar has the subtitle ‘From the Rome Convention to podcasting’ is not in itself evidence of massive conspiracy – but on the other hand, nothing is ever really off the agenda in WIPO, so the fact that podcasting is being mentioned again is at least worth of noting, if not necessarily panicking about. A single seminar like this won’t win or lose the debate, and as for the lack of NGO representation – sorry, did you think this was UNESCO? The very functioning of WIPO is focused on the needs of the content-owning companies; just read the previous treaties.

I’m currently thinking about webcast issues because of an upcoming paper for the UACES conference in Limerick. Podcasting is going to have to form some part of the analysis – the popularity of the format is steering the debate on linear v non-linear media and also has an added dimension of the various levels of copyright, which was a key issue in the original debate about Web radio/webcasting even pre-broadband! We come so far yet change so little…

Here’s the draft schedule

On a personal note, I have to share this article from a year ago yesterday that claimed that I produced the first Irish Indymedia podcast (in 2002!) … would be cool if it was true, but the word didn’t really exist at the time, and it was technically lacking in not having an RSS element. Nice idea, though.