WIPO Director General Takes Part in Celebrations Marking Centenary of Japan's Copyright Law

Geneva, July 26, 1999
Press Updates UPD/1999/67

The Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Dr. Kamil Idris, participated in celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of Japan's Copyright Law on July 22, 1999. This historic event was marked by a commemorative ceremony, which took place in the presence of His Majesty Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan.

Following a private audience with Their Majesties, Dr. Idris addressed some 1,000 participants including the Prime Minister and other high-ranking government and senior intellectual property officials. In his speech, the Director General congratulated the Government of Japan and the Japan Copyright Office on their dedication and innovation, noting that Japan had been "at the forefront of international cooperation in the protection of copyright".

Dr. Idris stressed the continuing importance of copyright protection in today's world. The advent of the Internet and the proliferation of digital technologies that enhance the capacity to create and use works and objects protected by intellectual property rights means that copyright protection is as critically important today as it was one hundred years ago. "Times have changed," he said, "however the importance of copyright protection is still as vital today". The Director General pointed out that the end of this millennium represented a "pivotal moment in the evolution of copyright and related rights" as there existed "untold opportunities for cultural, social and economic progress, but also major challenges for the enforcement of intellectual property rights".

The Director General also applauded the Government of Japan for its prominent role in promoting the development of international intellectual property standards, referring to its important contribution in the negotiation of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) in 1996. These so-called "Internet Treaties" set out minimum standards of copyright protection within the digital environment.

Japan "has also been an indispensable partner in the area of cooperation for development" Dr. Idris said, referring in particular to the Trust Fund established in 1993 by the Government of Japan to promote the development of copyright and related rights in Asian and Pacific countries. He underlined the importance of cooperation for development in building durable institutions and in promoting economic, social and cultural development. "Our objective is to inspire the intellectual property system to create a positive impact on the gross national products of developing countries and countries in transition," he said.

In a context of rapid technological development, increasing economic globalization and the emergence of knowledge-based economies, "technological development and intellectual property will go hand in hand in the next millennium", he said, they will be "foreign to no culture and native to all nations". Emphasizing the key role of intellectual property, Dr. Idris pointed out that "in a society in which wealth creation is no longer based on bricks and mortar, but on the magnitude of bytes of digital and genetic information, intellectual property becomes a major source of wealth creation and economic growth".

Demystification of the intellectual property system or the creation of a broader understanding among leaders, policy makers, consumers and the general public of the importance of intellectual property as a tool for economic development and wealth creation, topped the list of challenges identified by the Director General. Transformation of work methods, simplification of procedures and the effective dissemination of intellectual property information to facilitate broad-based participation in the transfer and development of technology also featured high on the list of priorities.

Japan became a member of WIPO in 1975 and is currently party to nine treaties administered by the Organization, including the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

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