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Important Facts About The Effect of Phonograms Treaties

National Origin

Only sound recordings are protected under the World Intellectual Property Organization's Performances and Phonograms Treaty. The Convention took place on December 20, 1996 in Geneva. The Convention was necessary due to the technological advances taking place throughout the world. Older treaties that dealt with literary works and pictures were no longer suitable treaties for the protection of phonograms.

Phonograms refer to the fixation of sound or performance onto a tangible medium. The Performances and Phonograms Treaty protects performers, those that produce the work onto a medium, those that transmit the work over a broadcast, and those that communicate the work to the public by any medium.

The rights of performers and those that produce or distribute phonograms are protected if they are members of the Performances and Phonograms Treaty regardless of national origin. All contracting members of the Treaty must recognize nationals of other countries who are members of the Treaty have the same protections regarding phonograms and performances.


The Performances and Phonograms Treaty offers certain rights to performers and creators of original work. Creators of a performance or phonogram are entitled to the economic benefits of the copyrighted material. This economic benefit extends beyond the creator’s life and will continue to be a part of their property, whomever may be in control of it. They also benefit from the economic result of any live performance regarding their work.

Fixed phonograms played without the creator present are to be clearly labeled correctly identified as belonging to that creator. Any modification that would harm the creator or bring down the value of the work must not be identified as the original creator’s work. The economic rights of a creator will last past their death until their economic rights have expired. This occurs when a created work enters public domain.

Performers are the only ones who may benefit from the reproduction of their fixed phonogram. Under the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, this is known as "right of reproduction". The performers also control the "right of distribution". Performers have the exclusive right when it comes to a decision to make a fixed work available to the public by means of copying the original product. Nothing in the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty can control what happens to a copy of an original work once there is a transfer of ownership regarding one of the copies of an original work.

Performers also enjoy the exclusive right to rent out their created work for commercial purposes. It has been agreed upon that the commercial rental of a performance or phonogram will not impair the exclusive rights of ownership afforded to the original creator.

Only phonograms and performances are protected under the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. There shall be no revision to the Treaty that includes other works such as pictures or literary work. Any party interested in leaving the Treaty must announce their intent to do so to the Director General of WIPO. The denunciation from the Treaty will take one year to be completed.

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