The WIPO Initiative
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World Intellectual Property Organisation (known as WIPO, is a specialised agency of the United Nations) is an international agency that works for the protection of legal rights in artistic and literary works, inventions, trademarks, and other original creations. Such rights are known as Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). The organisation works for the promotion of international agreements on copyright, patents, trademarks, and other original creations. It also provides technological information and other assistance to developing countries. WIPO has a membership of more than 110 countries. Its is situated in Geneva, Switzerland. WIPO administers two treaties that were established in the 1880's. One protects copyright. The other protects patents, trademarks, and other original creations. Administrative agencies of the two treaties joined in 1893 and were replaced by that of WIPO when it was founded in 1967. The agency became part of the UN in 1974.

WIPO plays a particularly important role in educating intellectual property off‌icials world wide about the importance of establishing and implementing strong intellectual property laws. The creative community looks to WIPO treaties to establish a basic standard of intellectual property protection world wide. This organisation, and the new WIPO Copyright Treaty in particular, represent a fundamental step in promoting growth and protecting our nation‘s precious technology assets in the new digital era.

The origin of IPR could be traced to the century old f‌irst international convention relating to copyright called the 'Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works of 1886‘. The 14 countries that adopted it agreed certain standard rules for the protection of literary and artistic works and also agreed to protect works published in each of the member countries. The Berne Convention was revised several times and many more countries joined over the succeeding years.

Sound recordings are subject to the provisions of 1971 ‘Geneva Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms against Unauthorised Duplication of their Phonograms'. Over 40 member countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States have adopted this convention.

WIPO organised a conference in December 1996, inviting around 160 member countries, the agenda being modif‌ication of the existing norms and creation of new norms on Intellectual property Rights, so as to cope with the creation, adoption, transmission and distribution of proprietary works in the digital medium. Three draft treaties, prepared by WIPO were discussed in detail namely,

  1. Copyright of Electronic Records,

  2. Protection of Performers and Producers of Phonograms, and

  3. New form of Sui-generis (of one‘s own origin) Protection of Databases.

At the end of the conference the f‌irst two treaties were adopted viz: the 'Copyright Treaty' and the ‘Performances and Phonograms Treaty’. These Treaties would come into force after ratif‌ication by the respective member countries.

Under the new 'Copyright Treaty‘, computer software and computer programs in any mode or form of expression are protected as literary works. Under the ‘Performances and Phonograms Treaty', a new right called the 'Right of Transmission' (which is specif‌ic for electronic records) has been added to the existing rights of reproduction, public performance and communication. As is evident from the relevant clause, the Copyrights Treaty enables - ‘the making available to the public of their works by wire or wireless means, in such a way that members of the public may access these works from a place and at a time individually chosen by them’. Thus the clause takes care of the digital on-line delivery of proprietary works. This provision will pave way for legalisation of the functioning of on-line digital department stores, digital bookstores, and digital record and video shops. In a nutshell, concept of online copyrights has taken birth. The ambit of broadcasting now covers transmission by satellite and transmission of encrypted signals. By virtue of the phonograms treaty, performers and makers of phonograms are granted right of reproduction, both direct and indirect in any manner or form, and an exclusive right of making available to the public of their performances stored in phonograms by interactive, on—demand, on- line delivery methods.

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