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Copyright and related-rights treaties and laws

Music and sound recordings are protected both nationally and internationally, through copyright and related-rights (or "neighbouring rights") laws in most countries, and a series of international treaties that ensure that creative people and companies are protected in countries other than their own.

There are five principal international treaties in force today that provide protection for musicians and producers of recorded music. Under the international treaty system, a creative person or company that resides or releases a recording in any country that has ratified the treaty, is protected in all other countries that have joined the treaty.

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Berne Treaty - Brussels Agreement - European Union Policy - Geneva Treaty - Paris Treaty - Rome Treaty - Trips Agreement - Wipo Agreement

1. Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

The Berne Convention, last revised in 1971, is the principal treaty protecting authors and composers of music. This treaty provides a list of rights enjoyed by these authors-such as the right to authorise or prohibit reproduction, public communication, or adaptation of these works. It also allows treaty countries to provide certain exceptions to protection. Some countries also protect producers of sound recordings as "authors" with Berne-type protections.

At least 150 countries are members of the Berne Convention, which is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a United Nations body based in Geneva, Switzerland. WIPO convened a Committee of Experts in the early 1990s to consider possible updates to the Berne Convention, which resulted in two new WIPO treaties, now being adopted in numerous countries world-wide. See WIPO Copyright Treaties.

The text of the Berne Convention can be found here Berne Treaty text

2. WIPO Copyright Treaties

Two treaties adopted by the international community in 1996, the WIPO Copyright Treaty ("WCT") applicable to authors and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty ("WPPT") applicable to performers and phonogram producers, bring copyright protection into the digital age. These update previous treaties by granting rights with respect to distribution activities and computer programs; protecting against unauthorised internet use; and protecting technological measures used on copyright material and rights-management information against hacking, removal or alteration.

The text of the WIPO treaties can be found here WIPO Treaties

3. Rome Convention

The International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations, known as the "Rome Convention," provides international protection for record producers, as well as performers and broadcasters. Producers in treaty countries are protected against unauthorized copying of their recordings, and have a right to payment for broadcast of their recordings, subject to certain exceptions.

The text of the Rome Convention, adopted in 1961, can be found at Rome Convention

4. Geneva Phonograms Convention

An additional treaty was adopted in 1971 to deal with the growing problem of piracy of recorded music. The Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorised Duplication of their Phonograms, known as the "Geneva Phonograms Convention," protects against unauthorised duplication of sound recordings, and against unauthorised import and distribution of such copies.

Seventy-two countries are parties to this treaty, the text of which can be found at Geneva Phonograms Convention,

5. Universal Copyright Convention (Paris Treaty)

The Universal Copyright Convention ("UCC"), last revised in 1971, protects authors and other copyright proprietors against unauthorised reproduction, public performance and broadcasting, again subject to certain exceptions.

The text of the UCC can be found at Universal Copyright Convention (1971)

6. The TRIPs Agreement

One of the important obligations of World Trade Organisation (WTO) members is to protect intellectual property, including sound recordings, under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. This treaty, which applies to the 146 WTO members, came into effect in 1995 for developed countries. Intellectual-property obligations came into effect for developing countries on 1 January 2000, and will apply from 1 January 2005 for least-developed countries. The TRIPs agreement requires all members to comply with the substantive provisions of the Berne Convention. It mirrors the Rome Convention protections against unauthorised copying of sound recordings, and provides a specific right to authorise or prohibit commercial rental of these works. It also provides a detailed set of requirements relating to the enforcement of rights which, in sum, require remedies and procedures that effectively deter piracy.

The text of the TRIPs agreement can be found at TRIPs Agreement

About the information given on this web site

Please note. 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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