European Union Ratifies WIPO "Internet Treaties"

The European Union (EU) and its Member States recently jointly ratified the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty (WCT) and Performances and Phonographs Treaty (WPPT). The so-called "Internet Treaties" contain rules on distribution, public communication and the making available of content online. They also establish the basic standards of protection for copyright in the digital age. All EU Member States functionally implemented the treaties into their national laws following the adoption of the EU Copyright Directive in 2001.

In a statement published by the EU, Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy praised the treaties for bringing the world’s copyright protection up to speed with modern technologies. He noted that "[b]y ratifying these Treaties, the European Union and its Member States hope to breathe new vigour into the current treaty-making work of the WIPO and encourage renewed commitment to moving forward on a high level of protection for creators and creative industries."

McCarthy Tétrault Notes:

From an international law perspective, the ratification marks the first time that the European Union was accorded full Contracting Party in the field of copyright with WIPO, the United Nation’s specialized intellectual property agency. The EU’s ratification makes it the 88th party to have ratified the WCT treaty and the 86th country to have ratified the WPPT treaty. Although Canada signed the WIPO treaties in 1997, it has yet to enact them into domestic law.

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