International Conventions & Related Rights

As was the case in copyright, the Rome Convention and national laws contain certain limitations on rights allowing, for example, private use, use of short excerpts in connection with the reporting of current events, and use for teaching or scientific research, of protected performances, phonograms, and broadcasts. Many countries allow practically the same kinds of limitations on related rights as their laws provide in connection with protection of copyright.

The duration of protection of related rights under the Rome Convention is 20 years from the end of the year in which the performance took place; With regard to performances not incorporated in phonograms, it will be the date of fixation (recording); in the case of phonograms and performances, included in phonograms, it will be the date of broadcast.

Many national laws, which protect related rights, grant a longer term than the minimal terms contained in the Rome Convention.

In the TRIPS Agreement, the rights of performers and producers of phonograms are to be protected for 50 years from the end of the year in which the fixation was made or the performance took place, and the rights of broadcasting organisations for 20 years from the end of the year in which the broadcasting took place. Thus, countries that adhere to the TRIPS Agreement would have to provide or modify their laws to offer longer protection than that required by the Rome Convention.

In terms of enforcement of rights, the remedies for infringement or violation of related rights are, in general, similar to those available to owners of copyright. These are conservatory or provisional measures; civil remedies; criminal sanctions; measures to be taken at the border; and measures, remedies and sanctions against abuses in respect of technical devices.

The idea of related rights has also attracted some attention as a way of protecting the unrecorded cultural expression of many developing countries, which is part of their folklore, especially as it is often through the intervention of performers that these folkloric expressions are communicated to the public. By providing related rights protection, developing countries may also provide a means for protection of the vast, ancient and invaluable cultural expression, which is a metaphor for their own existence and identity.

Likewise, protection of producers of phonograms and broadcasting organisations helps to establish the foundation for national industries, capable of disseminating national cultural expression within the country and, perhaps more importantly, in markets outside it. The enormous current popularity of what is called “world music” demonstrates that such markets exist, but it is not always the case that the economic benefits from the exploitation of such markets return to the country where the cultural expressions originated.

In summary, protection of related rights might serve the twin objectives of preserving national culture and providing a means for commercially meaningful exploitation of international markets.

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