WIPO announces adoption of Beijing Audiovisual Performances Treaty

WIPO announced the first new multilateral copyright treaty since 1996, focusing on improving the rights to collect royalties for performers of audiovisual works such as films, television and video games. The treaty organization reports that over 140 delegations participated in diplomatic conference held from June 20-26, 2012 in Beijing, China.

The World Intellectual Property Organization’s (“WIPO”) diplomatic conference concluded today in Beijing with the historic signing of the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances (“Beijing Treaty”). The United States and more than fifty WIPO member states from throughout the world signed the treaty, which marks the first multilateral agreement on copyright adopted in WIPO since 1996. The landmark Beijing Treaty updates the international legal framework for audiovisual performers to provide rights and protections similar to those already provided for musical performers under the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. “The Beijing Treaty is an important step forward in protecting the performances of television and film actors throughout the world,” said Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante.

Included among the Beijing Treaty’s provisions are articles requiring national treatment for audiovisual performers in other countries, various exclusive rights for audiovisual performers, and safeguards for technological protection measures. The treaty will come into force after thirty eligible parties have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession with WIPO.

Unlike recent international efforts aimed at piracy and access, the Beijing Treaty should be far less controversial because it provides protection among creators for works already protected by copyright. At the same time, however, it may put additional pressure on the U.S. to reform laws on public performance for both sound recordings and other audiovisual rights. Presently, performers are only entitled to a statutory share of public performance licensing fees for digital sound recordings. Those sound recording rights exclude motion picture, television, video game and other audiovisual uses.

Despite the limitations, SoundExchange, the sound recording performing rights society, recently announced “it has paid out $1 billion in digital performance royalties to record labels and recently topped $100 million in a single quarter for the first time.”

Once ratified, the new treaty will serve to improve the access to public performance funds and help fuel better distribution of public performance revenue among all the signatory nations.

WIPO statement –http://wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2012/article_0013.html

Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances –http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/doc_details.jsp?doc_id=208966