International issues

IRIS Plus 2000-1: Copyright and Related Rights in the Audiovisual Sector

Author: Natali Helberger, Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam, Francisco Javier Cabrera Blázquez & Susanne Nikoltchev, European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 01/02/2000

Audiovisual works and artistic performances, including sound and film recordings of them, are protected by specific copyright and related regulations. There are also provisions to protect rights to distribute these works, such as those granted to broadcasters, for example.

Current regulations, however, are in need of updating: since the first international regulations on related rights were adopted in 1960-61, a host of changes, some more radical than others, have been made in the broadcasting sector. Among the most profound of these changes is, of course, the technological development and convergence of existingand new forms of transmission such as cable and satellite technology, and now digital broadcasting. They also include new methods of recording, copying and storing works, performances, original recordings and broadcasts. At the same time, the financial and technical implications of distributing audiovisual works have grown considerably.

The extent to which existing related rights provide sufficient protection against the various forms of piracy which have emerged, together with possible ways of strengthening legal measures against them, are currently being considered by the EC, WIPO and the Council of Europe.

Existing and proposed EC and WIPO regulations are described in two separate chapters of this article: the first deals with the rights of authors, performers and producers, while the second is devoted to broadcasters' rights. Each chapter describes how the EC and WIPO, through new initiatives, intend to bring current provisions on related rights into line with today's technical and economic conditions. These chapters, which include some comparisons with other international regulations, point out several major shortcomings as well as improvements that have already been made to the copyright system. These are summarised in the conclusion.

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