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EUROPA - Audiovisuelle- und Medienpolitik

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Multilateral Fora - WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)

Copyright legislations and values in Europe date back more than 200 years. They have notably their origin in cultural and human rights traditions, as they represent the fundamental right for individual who create intellectual and artistic works; a right that makes the product of their creative effort their property under the law. Copyright and neighbouring rights have served the development of cultural wealth in Europe.

Copyright and neighbouring rights also constitute the currency of the audio-visual sector, i.e. the protective elements of the products and services (CDs, films, CD-ROMs…). They provide the creators, the artists and the content industry with the basic intellectual property rights allowing them to be remunerated and to invest into more creation and more revenues. Copyright and neighbouring rights also contribute to ensure the existence of reliable and secure conditions, which is the basis for any investment in this field, thus for creation and innovation. The emergence of the new digital age must constitute an opportunity for the artists and creators in order to provide the rich content which is the sine qua non condition for the Information Society to exist and develop.

In terms of legal framework, two dimensions are relevant for the European audio-visual sector: the European Community and the international fora such as WIPO and TRIPS.

At EC level, the Community has developed a legal framework based on the Internal Market, constituted of EC directives which harmonise the level of protection for copyright and related rights with a view to create a favourable environment for protection and stimulation of creativity and innovation. The most recent initiative in the field is the copyright and related rights in the Information Society directive. It addresses the transposition into EC law of recently adopted WIPO Treaties in the field and the adaptation of the EC legal framework to the new services and technologies of the Information Society.

At international level, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) is one of the relevant fora for copyright and related rights, together with the TRIPS Agreement in the WTO. Recently, two WIPO Treaties have been signed and are being ratified by the Parties, addressing copyright in the digital age. The last developments in WIPO concern databases as well as the protection of audio-visual performers. On the latter, the Diplomatic Conference which took place in Geneva in December 2000 did not lead to the agreement on a treaty.

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