International Copyright Information

What is Copyright?

Copyright is the means by which a person or a business makes a living from creativity. Copyright springs from a simple notion: the people that create, produce or invest in creative work should be the ones that decide how that work should be reproduced and made available to the public.

In general, copyright is the right given to the owner of an original work. This right can subsist in literary works such as books and computer software, musical works such as musical compositions, dramatic works such as plays, artistic works such as drawings, paintings and sculptures, sound recordings, films, broadcasts, cable programmes and the typographical arrangement of published editions of literary, dramatic or musical works, as well as performers' performances. Copyright works made available on the Internet environment are also protected.

Enshrined in international law for more than 200 years, copyright provides the economic foundation for creating and disseminating music, literature, art, films, software, and other forms of creative works. Copyright also protects culture and fosters artistic integrity.

Copyright provides that the rights holders determine whether and how copying, distributing, broadcasting and other uses of their works take place. This gives talented people the incentive to create great works, and entrepreneurs the economic reasons to invest in them.

Copyright has underpinned an extraordinary modern economic success story, accounting for tens of millions of jobs worldwide. The dramatic growth of the artistic, cultural and other creative industries in today's major economies would have been impossible without the strong levels of copyright protection that those countries have developed over many decades.

The latest available government estimates in Europe and the United States value copyright-based industries respectively at 360 billion Euros and US$430 billion, representing more than 5% of GDP. As we enter the age of electronic commerce, copyrighted material will be one of the most valuable commodities to be offered and sold on-line.

Copyright and the music industry

Copyright and similar rights protect the true value behind the sale of any musical recording - these rights represent and reward the creativity, sweat and toil of those who create and sell music. The proportion of the price of a CD or cassette accounted for by the cost of manufacturing the product is minimal. The real value is in the rights and the creativity that they protect.

The international recording industry is driven by dynamism and enterprise, but these would be meaningless in a world of inadequate copyright protection. Record companies invest billions of dollars of the industry's total worldwide revenues in new artists, many of whom will never prove commercially successful. It is this culturally diverse bedrock of investment in new talent that weak copyright protection hurts most.

Copyright and the fight against piracy
There are many different terms for it, but unauthorised copying and dissemination of copyrighted works is theft, pure and simple. Pirates are the enemy of creativity and all creators.

Piracy is the illegal copying of sound recordings, typically for financial gain. In the music industry, piracy represents a massive US$4.5 billion illicit enterprise, with ever-closer links to international organised crime.

Pirates thrive on weak copyright laws as well as on poor law enforcement. In today's global economy, counterfeiters and other pirates are able to seek out havens of poor copyright protection and ineffective anti-piracy enforcement. The advent of the mass-produced CD has changed the face of piracy from a problem largely confined to local borders to a sophisticated international trade.

Copyright and the Internet

A new era of piracy on the internet poses potentially even greater problems than the proliferation of CD piracy.

The recording industry is fast entering the age of digital distribution. Technologies of music delivery are changing radically, bringing tremendous benefits to producer, distributor and consumer. To secure the same sort of protections in the on-line world that the music industry enjoys in the analogue world, copyright laws need updating.

The fundamental principles behind the laws, however, remain unchanged. Copyright laws must ensure that artists, composers and record producers are strongly protected from internet piracy. Rights holders also need to be able to use the technologies of the internet to manage and control the use of their works.

The international legal framework
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.

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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