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Music and Copyright

National laws in almost every country set forth the specific rights of authors, producers and performers of copyrighted works. International treaties also ensure that these creators are protected in countries other than their own. The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works provides basic protections for authors, lyricists and composers internationally. The music industry also relies on treaties that specifically protect sound recordings, including the Rome Convention, the Geneva Phonograms Convention, and the WTO TRIPs Agreement. The international legal framework for updating copyright laws for the digital era was laid down in two WIPO Treaties concluded in Geneva in December 1996, the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). Signed by more than 100 countries, the treaties require ratification by 30 signatories in order to be come into force worldwide. At the start of the year 2000, approximately 13 states had ratified the treaties, and several other countries are working on their implementing legislation.

Artists, writers, and businesses are able to make a living from creativity through the application of copyright. Copyright give the rights holders the right to determine whether and how copying, distributing, broadcasting and other uses take place. Copyright protects everyone involved in the music industry, and it ensures that all the parties who have had a part in the creation of a work are rewarded. With the emergence of the digital market place, and the numerous delivery channels now available for music, the demand for content is increasing. Digital networks need original and diversified content.

Content development and delivery requires a legal environment conducive to creativity and investment in creativity. Authors, composers, performers, actors, publishers and producers all contribute to the creative process and their unique works need protection from unauthorised copying, piracy, and unauthorized file exchanges. Their reward for creating is to receive the royalties that are due on their works. Current unauthorized file-sharing networks are not paying royalties, neither are their clients, so musical works are effectively being “stolen” from the artists without their permission.

Impala upholds that a set of key measures are needed to protect and enforce copyright and neighbouring rights in the digital world. The copyright directive needs updating to take the new technological developments into account – as specific measures are required to implement protection through these new delivery channels.

The Copyright Directive

The Directive on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the Information Society (see IP/01/528) was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in May 2001 for implementation by December 2002. The Directive is the EU’s response to the digital environment as it updates copyright protection to keep pace with technology. It is the means by which the EU and its Member States implement the two 1996 WIPO “Internet Treaties”, the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, which have adapted copyright protection to digital technology.

However, many Member States are late implementing the Copyright Directive. Only 4 out of 15 member states have implemented it, the others are still in the course of implementation. Moreover the proposed legislation in many countries is inadequate.

Another issue for record companies and performers is lack of parity of rights with the composers and publishers. The Copyright Directive discriminates between recording rights and publishing rights in terms of exclusivity. Apart from on-demand exploitation, the communication to the public right is subject only to the users' obligation to pay equitable remuneration. For composers and publishers, on the other hand, it is completely exclusive.

Impala also understands that certain member states have not fully implemented the Rental Directive giving rights to record companies and performers. This means that their collecting societies are unable to collect certain types of revenue to which their members are entitled. Effective implementation is essential and should be recognized as a prerequisite to a meaningful industry structure that permits its participants to facilitate access to their music either individually or collectively.

The Enforcement Directive

Impala also has concerns regarding the provisions of the draft IP Enforcement Directive. It does not go far enough to protect the rights to which music industry rights holders are entitled to be able to rely on to facilitate access to their music. Other industries share these concerns.

Intellectual Property Rights

(IPR) provide an incentive for the creation of an investment in new works (music, films, print media, software, performances, broadcasts etc.) and their exploitation, thereby contributing to improved competitiveness, employment and innovation. In economic terms, the contribution made by copyright-based goods and services to the Community’s GDP is significant and rising (around 6% of GDP). Copyright is associated with important cultural, social and technological aspects, all of which have to be taken into account in formulating policy in this field.

To read more about the EU Commission’s proposal for the IP enforcement directive.

Portions reproduced by kind permission of Impala

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The intention of this web site is to make available wide-ranging copyright information while offering basic copyright education to our visitors. Many of your questions and queries on the subject of copyright may be answered within this web site or through the recommended links and resources provided on our links page.The information contained within this site is offered as a consideration to visitors and at no time should the information be construed as legal advice; for all legal matters, we encourage our visitors to seek the assistance of an attorney.

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