Two 1996 treaties negotiated under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) update international copyright standards for the Internet era. These two WIPO "Internet" Treaties lay the groundwork for the healthy expansion of electronic commerce in countries that ratify them, including the possibility of more and better jobs, more secure and diversified economies, and greater social and cultural advancement. The WCT entered into force on March 6, 2002, and the WPPT entered into force on May 20, 2002.  Currently 90 countries have ratified the WCT and the WPPT.  To view a full list of countries  which have deposited their instruments to these WIPO treaties, click here to see IIPA’s scorecard.

The importance of ratification and deposit of the WCT and WPPT for a country's economy and culture cannot be overstated.  For instance:

  • Electronic commerce can help overcome existing barriers to access to scientific, medical and technical data, educational materials, and technical and productivity software.  Trade in these vital resources, needed for prosperity and competitive advantage in the Information Age, will be much cheaper, more efficient, and easier in a digital networked marketplace.
  • Electronic commerce can help attract higher and more consistent levels of foreign direct investment in high technology and information-intensive businesses.  A host of service, processing and other functions can conveniently be out-sourced, which in turn will enhance the skills and opportunities of a country's citizenry.
  • Electronic commerce can help build stronger economic, social, and cultural links in the region, without regard to geographic proximity.
  • Electronic commerce can provide an enormous boost to a country's cultural and creative industries.  Through digital networks, that country's music, art, literature, and folklore can reach new markets throughout the world, and be delivered directly to paying customers around the globe.

To fully implement the WIPO Internet Treaties, countries will need to upgrade their copyright laws, whether through minor changes or more substantial revisions. When implementation is complete, each country will have:

  • Protections against the unlawful circumvention of effective technologies (both copy controls and access controls) that right holders use to prevent theft of their creations.
  • Protections against the unlawful tampering with tags and codes associated with copies of protected works and phonograms that are used to facilitate legitimate distribution and licensing.
  • Recognition of extended or clarified rights for copyright owners: for example, a right to control distribution of copies of creations, and a right to control communications of a work, including the "making available" of a work or phonogram to the public in an interactive manner.
  • Harmonized protections (through implementation of the WPPT) for the rights of performers and producers of phonograms.

For more information on WIPO and the text of these treaties, visit the WIPO website at

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