On 20 December 1996, the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Diplomatic Conference on Certain Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Questions adopted two Treaties: the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. Any member State of WIPO may accede to those Treaties.
Both Treaties include provisions which offer responses to the challenges of digital technology, particularly the Internet.
The Treaties provide an exclusive right for authors, performers and producers of phonograms to authorize the making available of their works, performances and phonograms, respectively, to the public by wire or wireless means, in such a way that members of the public may access them from a place and at a time individually chosen by them (language which covers on-demand, interactive transmissions in the Internet). In relation to that right, and the rights of communication to the public, in general, the Conference adopted an agreed statement expressing the understanding that the mere provision of physical facilities for enabling or making a communication does not itself amount to communication. Both Treaties recognized a right of distribution of copies to the public. They leave it to national legislation to determine the territorial effect of the exhaustion of rights with the first sale of a copy (and, thus, whether or not parallel import is allowed).
The WIPO Copyright Treaty also contains provisions on the copyright protection of computer programmes and original databases and the right of rental. Furthermore, the Copyright Treaty raises the minimum duration of protection of photographic (which in the 1886 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works is now 25 years) to the duration of protection of other works under the Berne Convention (50 years).
The WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty covers the protection of the rights of performers, other than their rights in the audiovisual Fixations of their performances, and, in addition to the provisions related to the digital technology and on the right of distribution, it also contains protection on other economic rights of performers and producers of phonograms. The Treaty also recognizes moral rights for performers in respect of their live aural performances and their performances fixed in phonograms.
The Conference also adopted a resolution expressing regret that, in spite of the efforts of most delegations, no agreement was reached on the...