ArtsWatch: Beijing Treaty Protects Actors

New international treaty puts audiovisual performers on par with audio performers
July 02, 2012 -- 6:30 am PDT
By Philip Merrill / GRAMMY.com

In recent news ...

On June 26 attendees at a weeklong World Intellectual Property Organization diplomatic conference in Beijing finalized the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances. With an unprecedented high level of attendance and encouragement from global stars, including actors Antonio Banderas and Meryl Streep, negotiators from WIPO's member states agreed to grant audiovisual performers the level of protection that audio performers have enjoyed since the 1996 WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty entered into force in 2002. The Beijing treaty will enter into force after it has been ratified by 30 countries. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante attended as part of the U.S. delegation and said, "The Beijing Treaty is an important step forward in protecting the performances of television and film actors throughout the world." After a dozen years of negotiations, conclusion of the agreement was hailed by the MPAA, RIAA and SAG-AFTRA.

Negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement resume today in San Diego. May saw an uptick in activist pressure for greater transparency. Last week pressure was compounded by two Congressional letters to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and the launch of a new activist coalition campaign.

  • On June 25 Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote to Kirk expressing concern with the lack of transparency of TPP negotiations, calling for detailed information and updates, and requesting broader consultation by an expansion of the Industry Trade Committee for Intellectual Property Rights. Kirk responded with a fact sheet on efforts for TPP transparency on June 26, but consumer activists Public Knowledge commented, "Unfortunately it only reveals how much secrecy remains."
  • On June 27 Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and George Miller (D-Calif.) were joined by 128 of their House colleagues in a letter to Kirk calling for more open TPP consultations with Congress, requesting public summaries of U.S. proposals and asking for a copy of the TPP confidentiality agreement along with an explanation of who played what role in crafting it. The letter concluded, "We share your goal of making [TPP] a high-level agreement that serves as a model for the world. We believe reaching that standard requires transparency and sustained, ongoing consultations with the many impacted congressional committees and the public. We look forward to working with your administration to ensure we meet our shared goals."
  • Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on June 19 that Canada will be joining the TPP partnership. In response, on June 27 Canadian consumer advocates OpenMedia.ca launched a "Stop the trap" coalition, calling the TPP an "Internet trap." Coalition members include the Council of Canadians, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Citizen, Public Knowledge, and SumOfUs.org.

On June 25 U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel announced "the process of gathering input for the administration's new strategy for intellectual property enforcement," as explained more fully in a Federal Register notice published the next day. Comments are due by July 25 at Regulations.gov under the docket number OMB-2012-0004-0002. Espinel's June 21 keynote at the American Association of Independent Music's Indie Week 2012 in New York provided a digest of the issues especially prepared for music people. She reviewed law enforcement, private sector practices, potential new legislation, and helping other countries and new legitimate platforms develop. "Because of the complication and scope and the intensity of this problem, we really need to be addressing this in as many ways as we can simultaneously," said Espinel. "I think it's critical that it be all of these together." Espinel also described her 5-year-old son's music interests, which include the piano and watching YouTube to learn how to play other instruments.

British regulators Ofcom and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport made announcements on June 26 to bring forward plans under the Digital Economy Act that should result in infringing broadband customers receiving warning letters in 2014. Ofcom posted two new consultations on updated revisions to the law's draft code for implementation. The deadline for comments on procedures to notify customers and hear appeals from accused customers is July 26, and the deadline for comments on cost-sharing between Internet service providers and copyright owners is Sept. 18. As previously announced, the DCMS will be removing provisions for the government to impose obligations on ISPs to block infringing websites. This was previously considered unworkable in practice but has since proved unnecessary in light of copyright owners' successful progress in court, obtaining orders for ISPs to block Newzbin2 and the Pirate Bay.

On June 20 the Danish Ministry of Culture announced that the country's ISPs are expected to sign a code of conduct by fall, agreeing to respond as a group to court orders instructing a single ISP to block infringing websites.

The Recording Academy actively represents the music community on such issues as intellectual property rights, music piracy, archiving and preservation, and censorship concerns. In pursuing its commitment to addressing these and other issues, The Recording Academy undertakes a variety of national initiatives. ArtsWatch is a key part of an agenda aimed at raising public awareness of and support for the rights of artists. To become more involved, visit Advocacy Action @ GRAMMY.com and sign up for Advocacy Action E-lerts.

Click on the "ArtsWatch" tag for links to other GRAMMY News stories in this series.

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