Summary of the Brussels Convention Relating to the Distribution of Programme-Carrying Signals Transmitted by Satellite (1974)

The Brussels or Satellites Convention provides for the obligation of each Contracting State to take adequate measures to prevent the unauthorized distribution on or from its territory of any programme-carrying signal transmitted by satellite. A distribution is considered unauthorized if it has not been authorized by the organization – typically a broadcasting organization – that decided on the programme's content. The obligation exists in respect of organizations that are nationals of a Contracting State.

The Convention permits certain limitations on protection. The distribution of programme-carrying signals by non-authorized persons is permitted if the signals carry short excerpts containing reports of current events or, as quotations, short excerpts of the programme carried by the emitted signals or, in the case of developing countries, if the programme carried by the emitted signals is distributed solely for the purposes of teaching, including adult teaching or scientific research. The Convention does not establish a term of protection, leaving the matter to domestic legislation.

The provisions of this Convention are not applicable, however, where the distribution of signals is made from a direct broadcasting satellite.

The Convention does not provide for the institution of a Union, governing body or budget.

It is open to any State member of the United Nations or of any of the agencies belonging to the United Nations system of organizations.

Instruments of ratification, acceptance or accession must be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.