Standing Committee on Copyright and RelatedRights Holds 3rd Session

Geneva, November 23, 1999
Press Updates UPD/1999/76

Representatives from some 80 member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) met from November 16 to 20, 1999 to discuss issues relating to copyright and related rights. At this third session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), delegates looked at three issues in particular, namely, the protection of audiovisual performances, protection of databases and protection of the rights of broadcasting organizations. Nine intergovernmental and 44 non-governmental organizations also participated in the discussions.

Protection of Audiovisual Performances

Current discussions in the context of the SCCR are focusing on the need to establish an international instrument to protect audiovisual performances. The WIPO Phonograms and Performances Treaty (WPPT) concluded in December 1996 updates and harmonizes the regulatory environment for the protection of performers only in sound performances and not audiovisual performances.

Among the issues examined in this context were contractual arrangements involving the transfer of rights from performers to producers of audiovisual works and rights of broadcasting and communication to the public. Although there was no convergence of views on these questions, it was decided that a series of meetings would be held by the Committee in the first half of 2000 to discuss remaining issues and to assess the progress of work. A decision would then be taken in 2000 with regard to the organization of a Diplomatic Conference to consider an international instrument on the Protection of Audiovisual Performances.

Protection of Databases

Negotiators expressed a range of viewpoints and underlined the importance of obtaining more detailed and comprehensive documentation on the economic implications of granting more than existing normal copyright protection to databases, particularly in relation to developing countries and countries in transition to a market economy.

The advent of digital technologies means that it is possible to reproduce and distribute information such as that stored within computerized databases quickly, easily and at low cost and with high quality. The debate on the subject of broader international protection for databases centers on two main concerns. On the one hand, under current arrangements, databases enjoy protection from unauthorized usage only if they are deemed to constitute intellectual creations, that is, for example, the database constitutes an original arrangement of material. This means that many databases, such as, telephone directories or meteorological databases, which are costly to produce, do not qualify as original intellectual creations and are not protected under existing international copyright law. On the other hand, many countries are concerned about the impact that protection of such databases will have on the flow of information and access to educational and scientific data in the public domain as well as broader economic implications, particularly in the context of developing and least developed countries.

Further discussions will be held on this subject at future sessions of the Standing Committee.


At the second session of the SCCR in May 1999, members of the Committee reaffirmed their general willingness to update the existing rights of broadcasting organizations. Existing rights are provided for in the Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations of 1961. Given the rapidly developing technological environment in which broadcasting organizations operate, there is growing consensus that it is necessary to update and enhance international protection for these organizations. The need to address this issue is further underlined by the fact that such protection is not provided for in the WPPT.

During the current session, discussion of this matter focused on the scope of a new instrument, definition of the notion of broadcasting, the object of protection and categories of organizations to be protected, taking into account the technological developments in the field of communication. Talks also covered the scope of rights, including limitations, terms of protection, obligations concerning technological measures, rights management and information. The Committee will continue these talks at future sessions.

Background on the SCCR

The SCCR was established in 1998 to examine matters of substantive law and the harmonization of standards in the field of copyright and related rights. The work of the Standing Committee is designed to ensure that existing international standards of protection are updated and enhanced and that new standards are introduced as necessary.

The main and most important steps towards establishing minimum standards of copyright protection within the digital environment were taken in 1996 with the conclusion of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Phonograms and Performers Treaty (WPPT). These treaties contain a general update of the legal principles underpinning international protection of copyright and the rights of performers and phonogram producers in cyberspace. They also clarify that national law must prevent unauthorized access to and use of creative works which, given the global reach of the Internet, may be distributed, accessed and reproduced anywhere in the world at the push of a button.

At present, twelve countries have adhered the WCT and eleven countries to the WPPT. At least 30 states must adhere to each of the treaties before it enters into force. This would herald a new era in the protection of copyright and related rights on digital networks.

For further information, please contact the Media Relations & Public Affairs Section at WIPO: