Implementing the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances – Law Society response

We've responded to the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) consultation on the introduction of enhanced rights for performers in films, television programmes and music videos. Find out what this means for solicitors.

The proposals

The UK IPO consulted on introducing enhanced rights into the copyright law framework to grant certain rights to performers in connection with performances in films, television programmes and music videos.

This will allow the UK to comply with the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performance.

This is an international treaty administered by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that sets out the minimum standards of protection for audiovisual performances.

The consultation invites views on which of two alternative sets of rights should be introduced to comply with the Beijing Treaty, introducing moral rights for performances.

It also invites views on how/if to implement optional provisions set out in the treaty, which deal with:

  • the broadcasting and communication to the public of audiovisual performances
  • how rights are transferred
  • whether rights are awarded to fixed performances that existed before the treaty comes into force

Our view

As our members advise individuals and organisations throughout the copyright ecosystem, including performers and entities which generate economic value for the UK from the use of performances, we have decided to remain as neutral as possible.

We express no opinion on the relative merits of the options, as our members and their clients hold a range of views.

Nevertheless, there are a number of aspects of the legislation where we comment, to reflect two aims which we consider to be broadly common among the profession:

  • the importance that the UK remains a member in good standing of the international copyright community
  • the importance of the rule of law and legal certainty

We therefore welcome the government’s intention fully to implement the treaty and to provide the recognition of international performances it requires.

The UK is regarded as a jurisdiction that provides a strong and stable copyright regime, and which respects the freedom of contract between individuals and companies.

Ambiguity in any new legislation is unwelcome because of the drag it causes on commerce and because any ambiguity tends to favour economically stronger players who can afford to take a risk of a later adverse decision.

What this means for solicitors

The new legislation will create new rights and obligations in respect of which our members will advise.

The proposals will change how the new rights should be applied in the context of existing recordings and the treatment of existing contracts between performers and those who have invested in the creation of the recordings.

It will also provide legal certainty alongside principles against exploitation of existing rights.

Next steps

The consultation closed on 9 November 2023.

The government is analysing the responses.

Read the consultation on the GOV.UK website

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