Negotiators from WIPO’s member states signed the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances (BTAP) on June 26, 2012 at the diplomatic conference. The new treaty, which came to a successful culmination during final rounds of negotiations in Beijing, comprehensively brings audiovisual performers into the reach of the international copyright framework.
BTAP stabilizes the precarious position performers house in the audiovisual industry by establishing a clear and decisive legal framework for their protection. The treaty will strengthen the economic rights of film actors and other performers while potentially providing additional sources of income for their performances. It may also enable performers to divide proceeds from revenue acquired internationally by audiovisual productions. Further, the treaty grants performers moral rights to thwart lack of attribution or distortion of their performances, and safeguards against the unauthorized use of their performances in audiovisual media. For the first time, the treaty will offer protection to performers in the digital environment.
Once the treaty has been ratified by 30 eligible countries or various intergovernmental organizations, it will come into force. The signing of the treaty only signifies a preliminary endorsement and the state’s intent to assess the treaty domestically and consider ratification. It is important to note that signing doesn’t create a legal responsibility to ratify.
It remains to be seen whether signatory countries will ratify the treaty; nonetheless, it represents a step in the right direction towards the international and comprehensive protection that audiovisual performers so much deserve.
Tracy Ayodele is a J.D Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School