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Intl treaty puts performers' rights at front and center

(China Daily Global) |Updated : 2020-05-08

Multinational agreement among 30 countries to give cultural industry a new lease of life

With the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances coming into force on April 28, the new vigor will be injected into the cultural industry, insiders said.

The treaty, adopted by members of the World Intellectual Property Organization at a diplomatic conference in Beijing in 2012, deals with the intellectual property rights of performers in audiovisual performances. It is the first multinational IP treaty signed in China and named after a Chinese city since 1949.

Three months after Indonesia ratified it as the 30th contracted party on Jan 28, the treaty came into effect.

As a milestone in international IP protection, the treaty will improve the protection offered to performers by the international community, and promote the development of the audiovisual industry, according to WIPO.

"Many audiovisual performers-television and film actors, musicians, dancers, choreographers and others-never reap great fortunes and could in fact use some support in ensuring the sustainability of their livelihoods," said WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry.

"The Beijing Treaty bolsters audiovisual performers' rights to their work, which translates into rising earnings and promotes the economic sustainability of the industry that delights us all," Gurry said.

China will continue to work with WIPO to encourage more countries to approve and sign the treaty, according to an official with the National Copyright Administration.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature body, ratified the treaty in 2014.

Yan Xiaohong, head of the Copyright Society of China, said at an online speech on April 28 that in the sphere of performing arts, two major types of copyrights are under protection-one targets performance products and the other focuses on performers' rights.

Based on the significance that the international community attaches to performers and their rights, the Beijing treaty is a set of new international rules that provide all-around protection of performers' voices and images, Yan said.

He noted the treaty reflects a balance of interests between developed and developing nations, as developing countries, including China, played a crucial role in formulating the rules.

"It is not only a landmark in China's copyright work, but also a new starting point that will benefit all performers," Yan said. "China will take this opportunity to improve its copyright protection system and promote the high-quality development of related industries."

The cultural industry has enormous potential for growth, as there is a sharp rise in demand for cultural products, he said, adding that copyright can reshape the industry.

Copyright is not merely about culture-it also enables an increase in wealth, he said, noting that high-quality products and effective distribution are key to the cultural development.