Showbiz toasts copyright laws

Treaties bolster regulations worldwide

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers, diplomats and Hollywood’s top Washington reps met on Capitol Hill Thursday to toast two new treaties designed to bolster copyright laws around the globe.

To date, 35 countries have ratified the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Copyright Treaty, which took effect May 6. WIPO’s Performances and Phonograms Treaty, which takes effect Monday, has been ratified by 33 countries.

The treaties are designed to ensure that America’s trading partners understand the rules of the road when it comes to the Internet and copyrights. Ratifying countries will amend various internal laws to reflect the spirit of the particular treaty.

Both treaties incorporate elements of a milestone U.S. law addressing copyright interests in the digital age, the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Intellectual property win

“Today’s celebration is a joyous day for copyright. By embracing the Internet treaties, the world affirms the belief that intellectual property has value online and must be given full protection under the law,” Motion Picture Assn. of America prexy-CEO Jack Valenti said.

Valenti and Recording Industry Assn. of America chair-CEO Hilary Rosen thanked the Capitol Hill solons who were instrumental in securing passage of the 1998 Copyright Act, and hence, the two new treaties.

“Implementing these treaties reflects the importance the United States places in ensuring that our trading partners live up to their international obligations to protect critical intellectual property assets,” Rosen said.

Those ratifying the Copyright Treaty include numerous South and Central American countries, as well as numerous Eastern European nations, including the Czech Republic, Croatia, Lithuania and Romania. The Ukraine, Japan, Mexico and Senegal also are signatories.

Largely the same nations have also ratified the Performances and Phonograms Treaty.