Examination of the WPPT

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The WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) was signed by the member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization in order to regulate intellectual property rights of performers and of producers of "phonograms," by which is meant means of sound recording and reproduction, such as vinyl records, tapes, compact discs, digital audiotapes, and MP3s.

The WPPT governs only the rights of performers (such as actors, singers or musicians) whose performances are purely aural and are fixed to phonograms; it does not govern audiovisual performances recorded in media such as the motion pictures. The producers of phonograms are defined as the persons or legal entities that take the initiative and have the responsibility for the fixation of the sounds.

The WPPT grants performers four kinds of economic rights in their performances fixed in phonograms, three kinds of economic rights in respect of their live performances as well as moral rights. On the other hand, producers of phonograms are only granted economic rights in their phonograms.

All the aforementioned rights of the performers and of the producers must be protected according to the WPPT for a minimum duration of 50 years. The principles of national treatment and of automatic protection, as described earlier for the Berne Convention, also apply as a general rule for the WPPT. Thus, for example Italian performers and phonograms producers receive the same protection in France as do French performers and producers. The enjoyment and exercise of the rights provided in the WPPT cannot be subject to any formality.

The Treaty entered into force on May 20, 2002. The Director General of WIPO is the depositary of the Treaty. The WPPT is open only to Members of WIPO and to the European Community. However, the Assembly constituted by the Treaty may decide to allow other intergovernmental organizations to become parties to the treaty.