Treaty to bump up IP pro­tec­tions

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By SUN XIAOCHEN sunx­i­aochen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Artists in China who pre­vi­ously could do lit­tle to stop people from film­ing and boot­leg­ging their live per­for­mances will soon have le­gal pro­tec­tions af­ter an in­ter­na­tional in­tel­lec­tual property treaty was ap­proved by China’s top leg­is­la­ture on Thurs­day.

The Bei­jing Treaty on Au­dio­vi­sual Per­for­mances, which pro­tects per­form­ers’ in­tel­lec­tual property rights, is ex­pected to im­prove the coun­try’s im­age of IP pro­tec­tion glob­ally.

“The treaty is the first of its kind to be fi­nal­ized in China and to be named for a city in our coun­try. Its ap­proval shows our de­ter­mi­na­tion to tackle IP in­fringe­ments in the au­dio­vi­sual per­form­ing in­dus­try, and it will help us strengthen in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion in IP pro­tec­tion,” said Yan Xiao­hong, deputy di­rec­tor of the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Press, Pub­li­ca­tion, Ra­dio, Film and Tele­vi­sion.

The treaty, which was signed by 48 mem­ber states of the World In­tel­lec­tual Property Or­ga­ni­za­tion in Bei­jing in 2012, legally en­ti­tles per­form­ers to au­tho­rize or pro­hibit the re­pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of their au­dio­vi­sual works and will en­able them to share the pro­ceeds of per­for­mances mar­keted in­ter­na­tion­ally with their pro­duc­ers.

The treaty will take ef­fect af­ter at least 30 mem­ber states sub­mit ap­proval documents to the WIPO. China is the third mem­ber to do so, af­ter Syria and Botswana.

Ex­perts said that join­ing the treaty, ac­cepted in China by the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional People’s Congress, will sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove the pro­tec­tion of do­mes­tic per­form­ers’ IP rights and eco­nomic ben­e­fits in over­seas mar­kets, but it will bring chal­lenges as well.

“It spec­i­fies the obli­ga­tion of other mem­bers in the same frame­work to pro­vide le­gal rem­edy and nec­es­sary help once Chi­nese per­form­ers’ rights are in­fringed by the unau­tho­rized use of their works in their coun­tries,” Wang Qian, an IP pro­fes­sor at East China Univer­sity of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence and Law, said on Thurs­day.

“It fits well in our coun­try’s plan to de­velop strong cul­ture and soft power by stag­ing more tra­di­tional Chi­nese opera and mu­sic shows abroad,” Wang said.

Ac­cord­ing to the treaty, le­gal pro­tec­tion of over­seas per­form­ers’ rights to re­pro­duce, dis­trib­ute and mar­ket their au­dio­vi­sual per­for­mances in films, op­eras and con­certs should be manda­tory in mem­ber states, which should take ef­fec­tive ac­tions to in­ves­ti­gate and pun­ish vi­o­la­tions.

The treaty put un­der pro­tec­tion the per­form­ers’ im­age, cos­tume and body move­ments as part of their au­dio­vi­sual per­for­mances. This is a huge im­prove­ment over the pre­vi­ous WIPO Per­for­mances and Phono­grams Treaty, which only pro­tected per­form­ers’ au­dio pro­duc­tions.

Still, ac­ces­sion to the treaty will bring about is­sues re­gard­ing rel­e­vant law re­vi­sions and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of per­form­ers’ and pro­duc­ers’ rights.

China’s cur­rent law ba­si­cally stays in line with the treaty, but there are some mi­nor dif­fer­ences, which should be pre­served in of­fi­cial state­ments, said Tang Zhaozhi, deputy di­rec­tor of the copy­right man­age­ment depart­ment of the State Copy­right Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the ex­ist­ing law, pub­lic broad­cast plat­forms, in­clud­ing State TV, ra­dio and web­sites, re­tain the rights to broad­cast per­form­ers’ pub­lished au­dio­vi­sual works with­out their per­mis­sion. The treaty re­quires any broad­cast­ers to do so af­ter get­ting the per­form­ers’ con­sent.

“Our cur­rent law doesn’t set stip­u­la­tions on the is­sue, so we claim that we will re­serve the rights. Other­wise, we need to pay quite a big amount of re­mu­ner­a­tion to for­eign per­form­ers,” said Tang.

Mean­while, how to dis­tin­guish be­tween per­form­ers’ rights and pro­duc­ers’ rights to the en­tire show re­mains an is­sue to be dis­cussed, Tang said.

Artists and busi­ness in­sid­ers im­me­di­ately hailed Thurs­day’s ap­proval of the Bei­jing Treaty on Au­dio­vi­sual Per­for­mances.

The treaty, un­der var­i­ous ti­tles, has been signed by 48 mem­ber states of World In­tel­lec­tual Property Or­ga­ni­za­tion to date. It al­lows per­form­ers to share rev­enue gen­er­ated in­ter­na­tion­ally with pro­duc­ers and en­ti­tles them to au­tho­rize any re­pro­duc­tion or dis­tri­bu­tion of their works in over­seas mar­kets.

Pro­duc­ers and artists wel­comed the treaty as a boost to in­tel­lec­tual property rights, say­ing it will en­cour­age the cre­ation of art. “It helps guar­an­tee the rights of orig­i­nal artists and drives the de­vel­op­ment of orig­i­nal art in China,” said Liu Zhao, the founder of Stel­lion Era Cul­tural Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, a per­for­mance com­pany based in Bei­jing.

Liu’s com­pany has signed artists in­clud­ing blues singer­song­writer Zhang Ling and world mu­sic band Haya from the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

“Un­der the pro­tec­tion of the treaty and re­lated laws, artists can fo­cus on cre­ation, and the per­for­mance mar­ket in China will grow in a healthy way,” Liu said.

Wang Yuanyuan, founder and artis­tic di­rec­tor of Bei­jing Dance The­ater, echoed Liu.

“It is a mile­stone for China to join such an in­tel­lec­tual property pro­tec­tion frame­work, which will not only give artists con­fi­dence to keep on cre­at­ing but also ben­e­fit the au­di­ences with au­then­tic, high-qual­ity art pro­duc­tions,” said Wang, a renowned chore­og­ra­pher of con­tem­po­rary bal­let works, in­clud­ing

WANG GUIBIN / FOR CHINA DAILY

About 300,000 pi­rated DVDs and CDs and other il­le­gal pub­li­ca­tions are de­mol­ished on Thurs­day in Bei­jing as China steps up ef­forts to pro­tect in­tel­lec­tual property rights. Also on Thurs­day, the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional People’s Congress ap­proved the Bei­jing Treaty on Au­dio­vi­sual Per­for­mances, which gives artists con­trol of their over­seas works and rev­enues.

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