Beijing Treaty could strengthen online copyrights for musicians and singers

19 Jun 2013

If it comes into force, the Beijing Treaty on the area of copyright for audiovisual performances is set to pave way for better online and offline rights for performers such as singers, musicians, actors and dancers so that they can be fairly remunerated when their performances are used internationally.

Ireland’s Innovation Minister Richard Bruton TD has today signed the Beijing Treaty on behalf of the EU at the headquarters of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

At the minute, the protection of performers in audiovisual media has not yet been established at international level.

According to WIPO, this lack of protection not only affects actors in different media such as film and television but also musicians such as in the case when a rock performance is recorded in a DVD.

Should it come into force, the Beijing Treaty is set to grant performers rights both for the offline and online exploitation of their performances, for example the distribution or rental of their performances.

The goal is that performers such as dancers and singers will be fairly remunerated when their audiovisual works are used.


The Beijing Treaty, however must be ratified by 30 contracting parties in order to come into force. So far Syria has ratified it. The UK signed the Beijing Treaty on 12 June.

This morning, Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD signed the Beijing Treaty on behalf of the EU at WIPO’s headquarters in Geneva in line with Ireland’s current presidency of the EU Council.

Bruton also signed the Treaty on behalf of Ireland.

The treaty remains open for signature at WIPO until 24 June 2013, although States can subsequently accede to the Treaty after that date.  

Moral rights of performers

According to the European Commission, the Beijing Treaty also recognises performers’ moral rights, such as the right to object to distortions of their performance.

At the signing in Geneva today, Bruton said the Beijing Treaty would be is a significant step forward in granting performers international protection for their works when included in audiovisual form and performed internationally among contracting States to the Treaty.

“Most importantly, it will assist performers to get paid when their works are used in this way,” he said.
Signature of the Treaty by Ireland will, as is normal, be subject to ratification and therefore signature alone will not impose on the Irish State any obligations under the treaty.

Impact for Irish performers?

At national level Ireland has already provided protection for performers in audiovisual performances under the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000.

Therefore, the Irish Government does not envisage that the Beijing Treaty will mean any change to the status quo in respect of the protection of audiovisual performers in Ireland.    

This new treaty in the area of copyright was initially adopted at the Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of Audiovisual Performance, which took place in Beijing last June after 12 years of negotiations.

It was the first such copyright treaty for performers to be adopted since the adoption in 1996 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic