Copyright Law Updates | New Statutes, Regulations and Rules
June 27, 2012
U.S., 51 Other States, Join Together for Historic Signing of Beijing Audiovisual Performances Treaty
Beijing Audiovisual Performances Treaty
Copyright Office NewsNet Issue 460, WIPO PR/2012/714, 6/26/2012
The World Intellectual Property Organization’s (“WIPO”) diplomatic conference has concluded in Beijing with the historic signing of the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances (“Beijing Treaty”).
The United States and more than fifty WIPO member states from throughout the world signed the treaty, which marks the first multilateral agreement on copyright adopted in WIPO since 1996.
The landmark Beijing Treaty updates the international legal framework for audiovisual performers to provide rights and protections similar to those already provided for musical performers under the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.
“The Beijing Treaty is an important step forward in protecting the performances of television and film actors throughout the world,” said Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante.
Included among the Beijing Treaty’s provisions are articles requiring national treatment for audiovisual performers in other countries, various exclusive rights for audiovisual performers, and safeguards for technological protection measures. The treaty will come into force after thirty eligible parties have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession with WIPO.
More than 140 delegations worked to finalize the treaty’s language and agreed statements during the seven day diplomatic conference held from June 20-26, 2012 in Beijing, China.
Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante, along with Senior Counsel for Policy and International Affairs Karyn Temple-Claggett, joined the U.S. Delegation to the diplomatic conference, which was led by Justin Hughes a senior advisor to David Kappos, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property.
The delegation also included Shira Perlmutter, Administrator for Policy and External Affairs at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; and senior officials from the U.S. Department of State, as well as representatives from the Screen Actors Guild and Motion Picture Association of America. Betty E. King, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Other International Organizations at the U.S. Mission in Geneva, Switzerland also joined the U.S. Delegation.
“There was a renewed atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration among all of the delegations in attendance, and WIPO’s Director General Francis Gurry and all of his talented staff should be congratulated,” Pallante said.
Entry into Force
The treaty will enter into force once it has been ratified by 30 eligible parties, including countries or certain intergovernmental organizations.
Signature of the treaty constitutes a preliminary endorsement by demonstrating the state’s intent to examine the treaty domestically and consider ratification, though signing does not create a binding legal obligation to ratify.
Ratification or accession signifies an agreement to be legally bound by the terms of the treaty. Though accession has the same legal effect as ratification, the procedures differ. In the case of ratification, the state first signs and then ratifies the treaty.
The procedure for accession has only one step and is therefore not preceded by an act of signature.
Most commonly, countries that support a treaty sign shortly after it has been adopted. They then ratify the treaty when all of their domestically required legal procedures have been fulfilled.
Other states may begin with the domestic approval process and accede to the treaty once their domestic procedures have been completed, without signing the treaty first.
Impact of Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances
The Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances (BTAP) will strengthen the economic rights of film actors and other performers and could provide extra income from their work. It will potentially enable performers to share proceeds with producers for revenues generated internationally by audiovisual productions. It will also grant performers moral rights to prevent lack of attribution or distortion of their performances.
Importantly, the new treaty will strengthen the precarious position of performers in the audiovisual industry by providing a clearer international legal framework for their protection. For the first time it will provide performers with protection in the digital environment. The treaty will also contribute to safeguarding the rights of performers against the unauthorized use of their performances in audiovisual media, such as television, film and video.
Background and Historical Context
When the International Conference for the Protection of Authors’ Rights was convened in 1883, the delegates of literary societies, artists, writers, and publishers from various nations set out to draft clear and concise articles that would unify the legal framework for literary properties and summarize the principles acceptable to all nations. The resulting Berne Convention succeeded in protecting intellectual property rights for creative works of authors and artists.
The early 20th century saw the development of an entire industry around silent films, and soon after, talking pictures. For the first time, performers - such as actors and singers - were being recorded, and their performances were reproduced and distributed to audiences, both domestically and internationally.
This extended the reach of these productions beyond live audiences. This was one reason the Berne Union, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) formulated the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms, and Broadcasting Organization of 1961 (Rome Convention). While the Rome Convention provided protection for audio performers, it only gave limited rights to audiovisual performers.
In 1996, the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) was signed, and it entered into force in 2002. The WPPT modernized international standards for sound performances. Audiovisual performers and their performances continued to be largely unprotected by international standards.
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