News Detail

30.10.2019

The WIPO Beijing Treaty: a successful road from tale to reality

Few performers in the FIA community are yet to hear of the WIPO Beijing Treaty, the new kid on the block in the international copyright framework, addressing a major gap in how performances are to be protected across borders when recorded on audiovisual media. Ever since the dawn of multilateral negotiations in the early 60's seeking to bequest a minimum threshold of moral and economic rights to performers around the world, this benefit had frustratingly eluded them whenever their audio performances were captured and exploited together with their image. Sound performances, by contrast, were granted meaningful intellectual property protection from the start and those rights were further strengthened in the late 90's to make them fit for purpose also in the digital environment. Drawing a complex negotiation spanning over two decades to a close, the WIPO Beijing Treaty put en end to this discrimination and made the international protection of performances finally whole. Since 2012, performers have been awarded meaningful intellectual property rights also encompassing their audiovisual performances and the main drive since then has been to get as many countries as possible to ratify or accede to this new international convention, in other words to become contracting parties and formally agree to be bound by the provisions of the Beijing Treaty.

FIA and its members have played a central role in promoting the Treaty and advising countries about national reforms needed to make their legal environments compatible with its main provisions. Today, only seven years from its adoption, the WIPO Beijing Treaty is about to enter into force and become legally binding. With 27 contracting parties, the minimum threshold of 30 accessions or ratifications is now within reach. As the performer community prepares to celebrate this historic achievement, FIA remains all too much aware of the fact that the countries with the most significant audiovisual industries have not yet engaged in this process. The EU, India, the US, Mexico and Canada, to name just a few of them, are in fact yet to become contracting parties. FIA therefore calls on all its affiliates worldwide to continue to engage in the campaign to make of the WIPO Beijing Treaty the global minimum norm for when audiovisual performances are exploited on analogue as well as digital media.