Rome Convention Summary
Summary of the Rome Convention
The Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations was accepted by members of BIRPI, the predecessor to the modern World Intellectual Property Organization, on October 26, 1961. The agreement extended copyright protection for the first time from the author of a work to the creators and owners of particular, physical manifestations of intellectual property, such as audiocassettes or DVDs.
Nations drew up the Convention in response to new technologies like tape recorders that made the reproduction of sounds and images easier and cheaper than ever before. Whereas earlier copyright law, including international agreements like the 1886 Berne Convention, had been written to regulate the circulation of printed materials, the Rome Convention responded to the new circumstance of ideas variously represented in easily reproduced units by covering performers and producers of recordings under copyright:
- Performers (actors, singers, musicians, dancers and other persons who perform literary or artistic works) are protected against certain acts they have not consented to. Such acts are: the broadcasting and the communication to the public of their live performance; the fixation of their live performance; the reproduction of such a fixation if the original fixation was made without their consent or if the reproduction is made for purposes different from those for which they gave their consent.
- Producers of phonograms enjoy the right to authorise or prohibit the direct or indirect reproduction of their phonograms. Phonograms are defined in the Rome Convention as meaning any exclusively aural fixation of sounds of a performance or of other sounds. When a phonogram published for commercial purposes gives rise to secondary uses (such as broadcasting or communication to the public in any form), a single equitable remuneration must be paid by the user to the performers, or to the producers of phonograms, or to both; contracting States are free, however, not to apply this rule or to limit its application.
- Broadcasting organisations enjoy the right to authorise or prohibit certain acts, namely: the rebroadcasting of their broadcasts; the fixation of their broadcasts; the reproduction of such fixations; the communication to the public of their television broadcasts if such communication is made in places accessible to the public against payment of an entrance fee.
The Rome Convention allows the following exceptions in national laws to the above-mentioned rights:
- private use
- use of short excerpts in connection with the reporting of current events
- ephemeral fixation by a broadcasting organisation by means of its own facilities and for its own broadcasts
- use solely for the purpose of teaching or scientific research
- in any other cases—except for compulsory licenses that would be incompatible with the Berne Convention—where the national law provides exceptions to copyright in literary and artistic works.
Furthermore, once a performer has consented to the incorporation of his performance in a visual or audiovisual fixation, the provisions on performers’ rights have no further application.