World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty

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The World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty, abbreviated as the WIPO Copyright Treaty, is an international treaty on copyright law adopted by the member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1996. It provides additional protections for copyright deemed necessary due to advances in information technology since the formation of previous copyright treaties before it. There have been a variety of criticisms of this treaty, including that it is overbroad (for example in its prohibition of circumvention of technical protection measures, even where such circumvention is used in the pursuit of legal and fair use rights) and that it applies a 'one size fits all' standard to all signatory countries despite widely differing stages of economic development and knowledge industry.

It ensures that computer programs are protected as literary works (Article 4), and that the arrangement and selection of material in databases is protected (Article 5).

It provides authors of works with control over their rental and distribution in Articles 6 to 8 which they may not have under the Berne Convention alone. It also prohibits circumvention of technological measures for the protection of works (Article 11) and unauthorised modification of rights management information contained in works (Article 12).

The WIPO Copyright Treaty is implemented in United States law by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). By Decision 2000/278/EC of 16 March 2000, the Council of the European Union approved the treaty on behalf of the European Community. European Union Directives which largely cover the subject matter of the treaty are: Directive 91/250/EC creating copyright protection for software, Directive 96/9/EC on copyright protection for databases and Directive 2001/29/EC prohibiting devices for circumventing "technical protection measures" such as digital rights management.

However, the WIPO Copyright Treaty made no reference to copyright term extension beyond the existing terms of the Berne Convention, but there was a degree of association. This was because the United States Congress passed both the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which enacts copyright term extension during the same week and used the same method using voice vote to make it less likely that the news media would report on the bills. In addition, the European Union adopted its own copyright term extension around the same time.


A notable and exception has been raised by the General Prosecutor of Paris, who allowed bank FINAMA (part of the French insurer GROUPAMA) to scupper a $200 million software piracy trial for the sake of bank secrecy [1].

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