Why is it important?


The Beijing Treaty outlines global standards recognizing the right of audiovisual performers to be compensated fairly for the use of their creative contributions. It grants performers economic rights to improve their livelihoods, as well as moral rights, giving them the ability to better protect their images. This treaty sets a landmark new global IP standard for audiovisual performances at international level.





So what is the difference between economic and moral intellectual property rights?


Moral rights are essentially meant to help performers uphold their reputation. Typically, they include the right of paternity (i.e. the right to be named as the performer of one’s performance) and the right of integrity (i.e. the right to oppose any alteration of the performance that may be prejudicial to the reputation of the performer). As they are closely linked to the performers’ personality, they belong to the performer independently of his economic rights, and even after the transfer of those rights, and are protected at least just as long. Economic rights, on the other hand, enable performers to seek a financial benefit from licensed uses, e.g. copying, renting, broadcasting, etc. or, conversely, damages whenever their performances are exploited without their agreement. Economic rights are generally divided in two sub-categories: exclusive rights and statutory licenses. Exclusive rights enable performers to authorize or prohibit certain exploitations of their performances which cannot therefore be legally exploited unless the performer has previously agreed to such use. Statutory licenses are a practical solution to deal with mass usage, where it would be highly unpractical to seek the previous authorization of the right holder(s). In these specific situations, the authorization of the performer will not be needed for each and every use. This is the case for private copying, an exception to the exclusive right of reproduction, which is established in many legal systems and commonly generates levies on recording equipment and/or blank media to compensate the performers. This is equally the case where mass uses - like broadcasting - are subject to an equitable remuneration right, generally administered by collective management organizations.


Most of the economic rights granted by the BTAP are exclusive rights. Broadly speaking, these give performers maximum leverage, enabling them to authorize use against the promise of a fair payment, e.g. a residual or a royalty payment. Where they have a high professional profile or where they are represented by strong trade unions, these rights may deliver them the promise of a fair and reasonable income. However, performers are often in a very weak bargaining position and forced to transfer all their economic rights to producers in perpetuity for little more than a symbolic payment. This is one of the reasons why the treaty provides for alternative options in some cases, i.e. statutory licenses that require no previous authorization for use but must reward the performers and are generally administered by collective management organizations.