FIA gains resumption of the WIPO Diplomatic Conference on audiovisual performances

The General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has unanimously approved a recommendation which moves to resume the suspended Diplomatic Conference of 2000, in order to conclude the negotiation of an International Treaty on the protection of Audiovisual Performances. The conclusion of this important negotiation, long called for by our Federation, has been made possible following a historic compromise, reached in June 2011, on the issue of transfer of rights from performers to producers. The diverging views on this issue, which is one of the key elements of this Treaty, had effectively and repeatedly served to block the recognition of any intellectual property rights at international level for audiovisual performers – leading to an absurd and unacceptable discrimination with regard to audio performances, with the latter enjoying protection since the early ‘60s.

The lack of any harmonisation at international level has been harmful for audiovisual performers, who, in many countries, have never benefitted from the recognition and protection of their moral and economic rights, despite their contribution to diversity of content and to the success of national audiovisual industries. “Countries where performers enjoy protection in relation to their audiovisual works are unfortunately very much in the minority and the absence of consensus at international level is part of the reason” commented Agnete Haaland, President of FIA. “In all others, audiovisual performers must generally accept a one-off payment, which takes no account of the commercial success that may result from the exploitation of their work and which, in the absence of representative organisations with sufficient clout, is imposed on them with little scope for negotiation. This is profoundly unjust. The future WIPO “Audiovisual Treaty”, whose substance is, for the moment, largely consensual, offers hope that there will be a rapid and widespread ratification of this instrument, which will allow it to have a real impact for the professionals whom we represent, without further delay”.

The new Treaty will accord audiovisual performers a moral right, which will allow them to better protect their reputation from prejudice. New economic rights will also allow them to draw concrete benefits from the exploitation of their work, particularly in the online and on-demand environment. As far as the transfer of rights is concerned, it is to be regulated in a way that takes account of the wide variety of legal frameworks and traditions that exist, without either promoting or jeopardizing any of them, while still allowing for safeguards to limit harm to performers.

The Diplomatic Conference will assemble in Beijing, China, from June 20th to 26th of 2012. Building on the body of provisions that were provisionally approved in 2000, member States will have to confirm the new article on transfer of rights, reach agreement on the three additional joint declarations and the addition of a new paragraph to the Preamble, and finalise the administrative procedures in relation to the new Treaty.

Recommendation by the WIPO General Assembly