Performers Rights Take Centre Stage at WIPO

Geneva, December 7, 2000
Press Releases PR/2000/249

As the curtain lifted on the final leg of international negotiations to conclude a treaty to safeguard the rights of performers against unauthorized use of their work in audiovisual media, the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Dr. Kamil Idris, wished delegates success in their deliberations. Opening the Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of Audiovisual Performances, which is taking place in Geneva from December 7 to 20, the Director General said adoption of this international instrument would represent a milestone in creating a comprehensive system of copyright and related rights protection that is adapted to the challenges and opportunities of digital and networked technologies.

"As part of WIPO's program for progressive development of copyright and related rights, we hope to establish a comprehensive system of protection of those rights, which responds to the challenges and opportunities of digital and networked technologies. The successful adoption of this instrument would be a critical step in updating this protection," Dr. Idris told some 500 delegates from about 100 countries and over 46 international organizations.

The Director General said that the international agreement would be of foremost importance to performers as well as of major impact for the film, music and television industries. "The main beneficiaries would be performers, whose economic and moral rights would be protected, including at the international level. They would be ensured protection against the exploitation of their skills and talents on the Internet and in digital media, such as was granted to authors and performers of sound recordings in 1996. This is a crucial point in a world where culture and entertainment enjoy an increasingly international audience," he added.

The Director General said that "the film, music and television industries would also benefit from international rules facilitating the global exchange of films, music videos and television programs". He noted that such an agreement would mean that the general public "would have easier access to culture and entertainment worldwide."

Performers—such as, singers, musicians, dancers and actors—have enjoyed international protection for their performances since the adoption of the Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (the Rome Convention) in 1961. In 1996, the adoption of the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) modernized and updated these standards to cover use of their performances on the Internet. The Rome Convention and the WPPT, however, grant protection mainly in relation to sound recordings of performances, and they only address the audiovisual aspects of performances to a very limited extent. The issue of protection of audiovisual performances was discussed at the 1996 Diplomatic Conference. Although no instrument was concluded on this issue due to a lack of consensus at that time, the Conference adopted a resolution stating that the issue should be the subject of a subsequent Diplomatic Conference.

The adoption of a new instrument will strengthen the position of performers in the audiovisual industry by providing a clearer legal basis for the international use of audiovisual works, both in traditional media and in digital networks.

Following the election of Mr. Nguyen Qui Binh, Viet Nam's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, as Chairman of the Diplomatic Conference, a number of delegations took the floor to express their commitment to a successful outcome of the meeting.

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