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China Signs International Movie Copyright Treaty

26 Jun, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The World Intellectual Property Organization June 26 said China has agreed to officially recognize intellectual copyrights on movies and related audio with the signing of the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances.

The treaty — named in recognition of the city that hosted the negotiations — came at the conclusion of the Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of Audiovisual Performances June 20 through 26.

The treaty strengthens the economic rights of film actors and other performers in safeguarding incremental revenue for their work through third-party licenses. It will potentially enable performers to share proceeds with producers for revenues generated internationally by audiovisual productions. It will also grant performers moral rights to prevent lack of attribution or distortion of their performances.

Importantly, the treaty will strengthen the precarious position of performers in the audiovisual industry by providing a clearer international legal framework for their protection. For the first time, it will provide performers with protection in the digital environment. The treaty will also contribute to safeguarding the rights of performers against the unauthorized use of their performances in audiovisual media, such as television, film and video.

China has held the dubious distinction as ground zero for international pirated movies (DVDs), books and music. The world’s most populous country recently agreed to allow greater influx of foreign theatrical movies (i.e. Hollywood) after years of capping imports to 20 movies annually.

At the opening of the Beijing conference, actors, including American Meryl Streep, Brazilian Sonia Braga, Chinese Mei Baojiu and Spanish actors Javier Bardem and Antonio Banderas, appealed for adoption of the treaty.

The Motion Picture Association of America heralded the treaty as an important step in the global fight to protect artists, creators and studios.

“We commend all parties for making the necessary compromises and reaffirming the current international copyright framework so crucial to worldwide economic and social development,” Senator Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the MPAA, said in a statement. “We join the International Federation of Actors, Member States and other delegations present at the WIPO Diplomatic Conference in celebrating the first substantive IP treaty of the 21st century.”

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