Each year we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day on April 26 as an opportunity to discuss the role of intellectual property in relation to innovation and creativity. This year, our theme is Movies: a global passion.
Movies have always attracted global audiences. From the very first silent movies they were watched across the whole world with fascination, and with passion. More recently, we have witnessed the growth not only of global audiences, but also of global production. Where Hollywood was once the dominant player worldwide, now we see film industries flourishing across the world, be it Bollywood in India, Nollywood in Nigeria, or in Scandinavia, North Africa, China or other parts of Asia. So movies really are a global passion.
Movies are also a direct product of intellectual property (IP). Think about how a film is made. You start with a script, which is the intellectual property of an author or screenwriter. Then there are the actors, whose performances are their intellectual property. Then there is music, in which the composers and the performers have IP. Numerous players contribute to creating a film, and to enabling us to watch it as a seamless performance, woven from a multiplicity of intellectual property. IP underlies the whole film industry.
Numerous players contribute to creating a film, and to enabling us to watch it as a seamless performance, woven from a multiplicity of intellectual property.WIPO Director General Francis Gurry
All these players who contribute to making and distributing movies are protected by an international legal framework. This started with the Berne Convention back in the 19th Century. Together with our member states, WIPO seeks to ensure that this legal framework keeps pace with our changing world, and continues to serve its fundamental purpose of making IP work for creativity and innovation. Recently we added a new treaty, the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances, to protect the performances of actors.
On World IP Day this year, I invite movie lovers everywhere, when next you watch a movie, to think for a moment about all the creators and innovators who have had a part in making that movie. And I would urge you also to think about the digital challenge which the Internet presents for film. I believe it is the responsibility not just of policy-makers but of each of us to consider this challenge, and to ask ourselves: How can we take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to democratize culture and to make creative works available at the click of a mouse, while, at the same time, ensuring that the creators can keep on creating, earning their living, and making the films that so enrich our lives?