Europe Joints Two Internet Copyright Treaties
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Two international treaties, established by the World Intellectual Property Organization both containing special provisions for digital rights, are expecting to safeguard the interests of creators in cyberspace.
The EU and a majority of Member States have already signed the treaties, but they should be ratified after the European 'Copyright Directive' is implemented at the end of 2002. In fact, the adoption of this Directive was a pre-requisite for the ratification of these treaties.
The WCT and WPPT, known as the "Internet Treaties", contain a general update of the legal principles underpinning international protection of copyright and the rights of performers and phonogram producers in cyberspace, more particularly on the Internet. In addition, they clarify that national law must prevent unauthorized access to and use of creative works which, given the global reach of the Internet, may be downloaded anywhere in the world with a simple click.
The treaties ensure that rightholders will continue to be adequately and effectively protected when their work is disseminated over the Internet. They do so, first by clarifying that the traditional right of reproduction continues to apply in the digital environment, including the storage of material in digital form in an electronic medium and second, by confirming the rightholder's right to control the making available of their creations on demand to individual members of the public. In order to achieve a balance of interests, the treaties also make it clear that countries have flexibility in establishing exceptions or limitations to rights in the digital environment, and may either extend existing exceptions and limitations or adopt new ones, as appropriate in the circumstances.