WIPO Welcomes U.S. Ratification of "Internet" Treaties

Geneva, September 14, 1999
Press Releases PR/1999/183

The Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Dr. Kamil Idris, welcomed on Tuesday the ratification by the United States of America of two WIPO treaties which establish the basic standards of protection for copyright and related rights on the Internet and other digital networks, the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT).

"We are very pleased with this significant new development which signals broader global acceptance of these important treaties" said Dr. Kamil Idris, WIPO's Director General. He said "the United States of America plays a leading role in promoting the use and developing the content of the Internet and for that reason we are delighted that they have now ratified the WCT and the WPPT".

The WIPO "Internet" treaties contain a general update of the legal principles underpinning international protection of copyright and the rights of performers and phonogram producers in cyberspace, more particularly on the Internet. In addition, they clarify that national law must prevent unauthorised access to and use of creative works which, given the global reach of the Internet, may be downloaded anywhere in the world at the push of a button.

The WIPO "Internet" treaties were adopted in December 1996. At present, nine countries (Belarus, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Hungary, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Panama, the Republic of Moldova and the United States of America) have ratified the WCT and seven countries (Belarus, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Hungary, Panama, the Republic of Moldova and the United States of America) have ratified the WPPT. At least 30 states must adhere to each of the treaties before they enter into force. Entry into force would herald a new era in the protection of copyright and related rights on digital networks.

Dr. Idris underlined the importance of these treaties, in particular in light of the explosive growth in the number of Internet users worldwide and the rapid expansion of electronic commerce in copyrighted works. "These treaties will help to promote the quality of the content appearing on the Internet as well as protecting the rights of holders of copyright and related rights." The Director General urged other countries to speed up the ratification process to ensure quick entry into force of these treaties.

For further information, see Press Release 181 or please contact Media Relations & Public Relations Section at WIPO:

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