Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Artistic performers to get stronger intellectual property protection

A new World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) treaty which includes new standards for the protection of audiovisual performances has been signed by the UK yesterday.

The treaty sets out new standards of international protection for actors, dancers, singers and musicians, providing a number of rights including the right to control the broadcasting, copying and distribution of performances.

The treaty builds on earlier agreements that gave similar rights to performers whose performances are only captured in sound.

Minister for Intellectual Property Lord Younger said:

Today’s signing marks a significant breakthrough in providing better protection for those in the creative arts.

The treaty recognises the value of creative artists whose performances we enjoy in our cinemas, at the theatre and on television.

This treaty adds to the measures that the government is pursuing in creating the right environment for a stronger creative industry sector in the UK.

Specifically the rights will include:

  • providing moral rights to performers to prevent lack of attribution or distortion of their performances,
  • providing protection in the digital environment,
  • strengthening the position of performers in the audiovisual industry by providing a clearer international legal framework for their protection, and
  • providing safeguards against the unauthorised use of their performances in audiovisual media such as television and film.

Notes to editors:

  1. The World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) Treaty on the Protection of Audiovisual Performances (Beijing Treaty) is the first to be adopted since the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty in 1996.

  2. So far 57 member States have signed the treaty.

  3. EU Member States were present at the Diplomatic Conference which was attended by 155 countries, the European Union, 6 inter-governmental organisations and 45 NGOs.

  4. The Treaty grants performers rights both for the offline and online exploitation of their performances (such as the distribution or rental of their performances by making them available on mediums such as the internet. These rights will allow performers to be fairly remunerated when their performances are used. It also recognises performers’ moral rights (including the right to be identified in instances such as film credits, as well as the right to object to any distortion of the performance prejudicial to their reputation.

  5. European performers already enjoy a high level of protection. The main benefit of the new Treaty will be to ensure that this level of protection is recognised at international level.

  6. It is expected that the EU will sign the Treaty shortly.

  7. The new treaty will enter into force after 30 contracting parties have ratified it.

  8. The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

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