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Summary of the Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations (1961)

The Rome Convention secures protection in performances for performers, in phonograms for producers of phonograms and in broadcasts for broadcasting organizations.

(1) Performers (actors, singers, musicians, dancers and those who perform literary or artistic works) are protected against certain acts to which they have not consented, such as the broadcasting and communication to the public of a live performance; the fixation of the live performance; the reproduction of the fixation if the original fixation was made without the performer's consent or if the reproduction was made for purposes different from those for which consent was given.

(2) Producers of phonograms have the right to authorize or prohibit the direct or indirect reproduction of their phonograms. In the Rome Convention, “phonograms” means any exclusively aural fixation of sounds of a performance or of other sounds. Where a phonogram published for commercial purposes gives rise to secondary uses (such as broadcasting or communication to the public in any form), a single equitable remuneration must be paid by the user to the performers, to the producers of the phonograms, or to both. Contracting States are free, however, not to apply this rule or to limit its application.

(3) Broadcasting organizations have the right to authorize or prohibit certain acts, namely the rebroadcasting of their broadcasts; the fixation of their broadcasts; the reproduction of such fixations; the communication to the public of their television broadcasts if such communication is made in places accessible to the public against payment of an entrance fee.

The Rome Convention allows for limitations and exceptions to the above-mentioned rights in national laws as regards private use, use of short excerpts in connection with reporting current events, ephemeral fixation by a broadcasting organization by means of its own facilities and for its own broadcasts, use solely for the purpose of teaching or scientific research and in any other cases where national law provides exceptions to copyright in literary and artistic works. Furthermore, once a performer has consented to the incorporation of a performance in a visual or audiovisual fixation, the provisions on performers' rights have no further application.

As to duration, protection must last at least until the end of a 20-year period computed from the end of the year in which (a) the fixation was made, for phonograms and for performances incorporated therein; (b) the performance took place, for performances not incorporated in phonograms; (c) the broadcast took place. However, national laws increasingly provide for a 50-year term of protection, at least for phonograms and performances.

WIPO is responsible, jointly with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), for the administration of the Rome Convention. These three organizations constitute the Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Committee set up under the Convention consisting of the representatives of 12 Contracting States.

The Convention does not provide for the institution of a Union or budget. It establishes an Intergovernmental Committee composed of Contracting States that considers questions concerning the Convention [1].

This Convention is open to States party to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886) or to the Universal Copyright Convention. Instruments of ratification or accession must be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. States may make reservations with regard to the application of certain provisions.

[1] The TRIPS Agreement also contains provisions on the protection of related rights. These provisions are different, in several respects, from those contained in the Rome Convention and in the Geneva Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms (1971).