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Internet Governance 23 July 2012

WIPO Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of Audiovisual Performances (Beijing, 20-26 June 2012)

Christine Runnegar
By Christine RunnegarSenior Director, Internet Trust

Unlike other creators, audiovisual performers, including television and film actors, have not had the benefit of agreed international rules concerning the protection of their artistic work. This changes with the creation of the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances in 2012.

This June, representatives of countries from all over the world, actors, IP industry groups and other observer stakeholders gathered in Beijing, China for a Diplomatic Conference coordinated by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and hosted by the People’s Republic of China, to create an international treaty to protect the rights of audiovisual performers.

On this occasion, China signaled that it would be “stepping-up” its efforts to give real and tangible protection of intellectual rights. How this will be realized remains to be seen.

In conjunction to the conference, the WIPO Copyright Awards Ceremony & China International Copyright Expo (CICE) Opening Ceremony were held in The Great Hall of the People and broadcast live across China. The opening ceremony featured a selection of international and local performances, starting with “Beijing Welcomes You” played by the Beijing Symphony Orchestra. Aspects of Chinese culture and history were brought to life through music, song, dance, story telling and acrobatics.

The Internet Society had the opportunity to participate in the Diplomatic Conference, representing the interests of civil society and the Internet technical community. As such, we provided a unique perspective at the conference. Other NGO observers represented more traditional IP-related interests (e.g. performers, producers, distributors, broadcasters, collection agencies, etc.

We welcomed the commitment of WIPO member states to introduce international rules to provide adequate and balanced solutions for the protection of performers in their audiovisual performances. The Internet has opened up new opportunities for performers to reach broader audiences, promote their art and derive income. At this point in time, it is, therefore, critical to take into account new economic, social and technological developments – such as the Internet and the digital revolution – in defining the scope of intellectual property and its protection.

In our statement (available here), we urged WIPO member states to preserve the basic open tenets of the Internet in their quest to provide protection for intellectual property, including:

  • The ability to connect
  • The ability to communicate
  • The ability to innovate, without permission
  • The ability to share

This builds on our ongoing efforts in various fora (e.g. WIPO, OECD, European Commission, UNECA) to advocate for fair and equitable systems to protect intellectual property that respect the broader public interest.

To read more about our work on Intellectual Property please go to:


Further information about the WIPO Diplomatic Conference is available on the WIPO website at:


– Constance Bommelaer & Christine Runnegar 

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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