Honduras on February 20, 2002 became the 30th country to join the WIPO Phonograms and Performances Treaty (WPPT), paving the way for its entry into force on May 20, 2002. The Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Dr. Kamil Idris, welcomed the accession by Honduras to the WPPT, a treaty that will protect musicians and the recording industry from the threat of piracy posed by the Internet and other digital technology and improve their international protection. The WPPT's sister treaty, the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT), will enter into force on March 6, 2002. Entry into force for each treaty comes three months after its 30th ratification or accession has been received by WIPO.
These two ground-breaking treaties bring international copyright law into line with the digital age. Performing artists, such as singers and musicians, and record companies (through the WPPT) as well as all other categories of creators such as composers, artists and writers and companies in the culture and information industries, (through the WCT) will, for the first time, be able to create, distribute, trade and control the use of their works, performances and sound recordings within the digital environment with greater confidence.
"Entry into force of these two key treaties represents a landmark in the history of the international law of copyright and neighboring rights. The stage is now set to offer more comprehensive protection for creators and creative enterprises in the digital environment," said Dr. Idris. "This will help to boost the future development of the Internet, electronic commerce and the culture and information industries because content producers and creators will be more confident that their interests are better guarded. Moreover, the treaties will help to ensure the quality and authenticity of digital content and enable creators, performers and the surrounding industries to reap the financial rewards of their talent, creativity and investment," he added.
Dr. Idris urged other countries to follow suit and to incorporate the provisions of the WCT and the WPPT into their national legislation "to create the conditions necessary for broad-based and legitimate distribution of creative works and recordings on the Internet." These two treaties, he said, were of key importance in curbing Internet piracy and in enabling electronic commerce to flourish. He also called on governments and all interested circles to work together to promote greater respect for creators and their works which are now easily accessible in digital form.
The WPPT considerably improves the protection of performing artists and producers by providing the legal basis to prevent unauthorized exploitation of their performances, whether live or recorded, or phonograms, on digital networks. It gives them exclusive rights for reproduction, distribution, commercial rental and making their performances and phonograms available to the public on the Internet. For the first time, the moral rights of performers will be recognized at the international level. The WPPT includes the moral rights of attribution and integrity for sound performances. They are given the right to be identified as performers and to object under certain conditions to distortions, mutilations or other prejudicial modifications of their performances, for example through digital manipulation. The WPPT also sets up an international framework for possible payments to performing artists and producers of phonograms for broadcasting and other forms of communication to the public of commercial phonograms. Like the WCT, the WPPT contains provisions on technical measures for identifying and managing protected performances and sound recordings. The WPPT provides protection against unauthorized reproduction, distribution and rental of recorded music.
Background Copyright law provides protection for literary and artistic works, giving authors the ability to control the exploitation of their works. The law of related rights provides similar protection for the contributions of those involved in presenting works to the public, such as performers, phonogram producers and broadcasters. These rights are provided by national laws in individual countries. International treaties serve to forge links among different national laws, ensuring that right owners are also protected in countries other than their own. The treaties do not overrule national law, but require the countries that join them to grant some specified minimum rights, and to do so on a nondiscriminatory basis.
Adopted in 1996, the WPPT and WCT update and improve the international protection which was established prior to the development and widespread use of personal computers and the Internet. The WCT introduces new and far-reaching norms to protect the rights of authors within the digital environment. It protects literary and artistic works, a broad category that includes books, computer programs, music, art, and movies. It updates and supplements the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the major international copyright treaty in the world today which was originally adopted in 1886, and most recently revised in 1971.
The WPPT will similarly safeguard the interests of producers of phonograms or sound recordings as well as of the performers whose performances are fixed in phonograms. It updates and supplements the existing major related rights treaty, the Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (adopted in 1961). First and foremost, the WCT and WPPT provide responses to the challenges of the new digital technologies. It is for this reason that they have come to be known as the "Internet treaties."
Both treaties require countries to provide a basic framework of rights, allowing creators, performers and phonogram producers to control and/or be compensated for the various ways in which their work is used and enjoyed by others. The treaties ensure that rightholders will continue to be adequately and effectively protected when their work is disseminated over the Internet. They do so, first, by clarifying that the traditional right of reproduction continues to apply in the digital environment, including to storage of material in digital form in an electronic medium; and by confirming the rightholders' right to control the making available of their work on demand to individual members of the public. In order to achieve a balance of interests, the treaties also make clear that countries have flexibility in establishing exceptions or limitations to rights in the digital environment, and may either extend existing exceptions and limitations or adopt new ones, as appropriate in the circumstances.
The treaties also break new ground by ensuring that rightholders can effectively use technology to protect their rights and to license their works online. The "anti-circumvention" provision addresses the problem of "hacking" by requiring countries to provide adequate legal protection and effective remedies against the circumvention of technological measures, such as encryption. Such technologies are used by rightholders to protect their rights when their creations, performances or phonograms are disseminated on the Internet. The treaties also serve to safeguard the reliability and integrity of the online marketplace, by requiring countries to prohibit the deliberate alteration or deletion of electronic "rights management information": that is, information that identifies a work, performance, or phonogram, or its author, performer or owner, or the terms and conditions for its use.
Both treaties also contain provisions on rights of distribution and rental, an obligation for countries to provide adequate and effective enforcement measures and optional rights to be remunerated for certain forms of broadcasting or communication to the public.