Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Protection For Film And Video Actors?

WIPO appears to be moving toward the revival of talks to develop a treaty to protect the performance rights of actors in audiovisual works. The potential issues in this treaty would not only extend moral rights to actors over their performance, but would extend control to actors over the ownership of their performance and the transfer or license of their performance to AV producers.

WIPO has been pressing since 1996 for some sort of performance rights protection but has not seen much movement. Its historical white paper appears here. WIPO now is exhibiting renewed energy in developing a consensus of members at this time.

The U.S. does not recognize moral rights in the same way as exists in other legal systems, although there is a limited right of attribution and integrity to authors of works of visual arts (Section 106A). Further, the U.S. has in place a "work for hire" rule in which the commissioning party in AV works receives a copyright interest without an assignment or transfer from the actors.

Any adherence by the U.S. to WIPO's proposed treaty would certainly require a re-work of both Section 106A's limited moral rights and the work-for-hire rule. It would perhaps also require new consideration of an actor's performance as a stand-alone work, separate from the AV material, together with re-thinking the early termination right.

Javier Bardem testified at a recent WIPO hearing concerning the proposed treaty, and his statement is set out here.

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