WIPO Member States Make Progress on Key Copyright Issues

Geneva, November 7, 2003
Press Releases PR/2003/367

Member states attending the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) made progress this week in talks to update international standards on the protection of broadcasting organizations, bringing them in line with the realities of the information age. They also held informal discussions on the need to update the rights of performers in their audiovisual performances. The SCCR met in Geneva from November 3 to 5, 2003 and was attended by delegates from member states, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations representing various stakeholders such as broadcasting organizations, the content industries (such as film and music), authors, performers, users and civil society.

Delegates agreed that a consolidated text of treaty proposals prepared on the basis of proposals from member states would be discussed at the June 2004 meeting of the SCCR. That text would be prepared by the Chairman of the SCCR, Mr. Jukka Liedes, in cooperation with the WIPO Secretariat. It was also agreed that the Committee would assess any progress made and on that basis would decide, at that time, whether to recommend to the WIPO General Assembly that a diplomatic conference be organized to conclude a multilateral treaty on protection of broadcasting organizations.

The Committee also took note of a number of studies prepared by the WIPO Secretariat including one on current developments in the field of digital rights management and the WIPO Guide on Surveying the Economic Contribution of the Copyright-Based Industries.

Talks to update the intellectual property rights of broadcasters, which are currently dealt with by the 1961 Rome Convention on the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations, began in earnest in 1997. A broad consensus exists on the need to upgrade these rights as the advent of radically new types of communications for radio and television programs and of content distribution over the Internet have made it necessary to review and upgrade existing international standards to ensure an appropriate balance between the different interests of all stakeholders and those of the general public. A growing signal piracy problem, including piracy of digitized pre-broadcast signals, in many parts of the world has also generated a need to discuss the nature and scope of protection for broadcasts.

The meeting of the SCCR was followed by an ad hoc informal meeting to relaunch international discussions on outstanding issues relating to the protection of audiovisual performances. The meeting included an initial information session where 4 speakers talked about their personal creative experience in performing and producing. The speakers were Ms. Melissa Gilbert (actress - USA), Mr. Richard Holmes (producer - UK), Mr. Jorge Sánchez (producer - Mexico) and Mr. Gérard Essomba (actor – Cameroon). Also, to facilitate discussions, the Secretariat provided a number of studies, notably, a survey of national legislative protection of audiovisual performances, as well as a study on rules on transfer of rights in audiovisual performances and related aspects of private international law covering the USA, France, Mexico, UK, Germany and Egypt. A series of studies on audiovisual performers' contracts and remuneration covering Germany, France, Mexico, USA and UK were also looked at. All studies are available on-line from www.wipo.int/copyright.

During the extensive debate which involved delegations from WIPO member states, and representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, many participants expressed their interest in making headway on these issues. The Chairman of the WIPO General Assembly, Ambassador Bernard Kessedjian of France, who chaired the discussions, declared that informal consultations with WIPO member states would be held in the coming months to decide on how to proceed further.

International discussions on the protection of audiovisual performers rights date from the early 1990s. In 2001 a diplomatic conference on the protection of audiovisual performances made significant progress in shoring up the rights of performers in their audiovisual performances, but did not reach agreement on the fundamental question whether a treaty on performers' rights should deal with how the rights are acquired by the producers, by operation of law or by agreement. The diplomatic conference sought to finalize an international instrument to safeguard the rights of performers against the unauthorized use of their performances in audiovisual media, such as television, film and video. The adoption of a new instrument would have strengthened 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.

Performers – such as singers, musicians, dancers and actors – have enjoyed some 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 WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) modernized and updated these standards to cover the rights in respect of the use of their audio performances on the Internet. The Rome Convention and the WPPT however, grant protection mainly in relation to sound recordings of performances.

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