Rights of Performers in Audiovisual Works
Ma. Consuelo C. Agno
The protection of performers’ rights is an important concern in the Philippines, especially because several Filipino performers of audiovisual works have achieved worldwide fame.
On the other hand, the law is deficient in so far as it fails to provide for rights specific to performers of audiovisual works. The rights of performers, in general, are among those rights protected under the Republic Act No. 8293 or the Intellectual Code of the Philippines (IP Code). These rights do not make a direct reference to performers of audiovisual works.
The IP Office of the Philippines joined the other member states of the World IP Organization in adopting the Treaty on the Protection of Audiovisual Performances (Beijing Treaty), during the diplomatic conference held in June 2012 in Beijing, China. The treaty aims to protect the rights of audiovisual performers across the world, and ensure a continuing source of revenues for these performers. For the Philippines, it will fill in the gap in the copyright law to reinforce the protection of the performers’ rights in the audiovisual field.
The treaty grants certain economic and moral rights to audiovisual performers such as actors, singers, dancers, musicians and other persons whose performances are embodied in films, broadcasts and/or disseminated online, to enable them to control the use of their creative works, taking into consideration the legitimate interests of producers and the viewing public.
As mentioned, while the IP Code already provides similar provisions on economic and moral rights to performers, there is no chapter in the copyright law pertaining specifically to performers in the audiovisual field. The other provisions referring to performers’ rights are grouped with other broad stipulations under the copyright law.
Article 5 of the treaty enumerates the moral rights of the performers with respect to their live performances or performances fixed in audiovisual form, including the right to be identified as the performers of their respective performances except where omission is dictated by the manner of the use of the performance.
“SIMILAR MORAL RIGHTS ARE GIVEN TO PERFORMERS FOR THEIR AURAL PERFORMANCES OR PERFORMANCES FIXED IN SOUND RECORDINGS UNDER SECTION 204 OF THE IP CODE.”
It also gives them the right to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of their performances that would be prejudicial to their reputation, taking due account of the nature of audiovisual fixations. Similar moral rights are given to performers for their aural performances or performances fixed in sound recordings under Section 204 of the IP Code.
Article 6 of the treaty provides for performers’ economic rights in their unfixed performances, such as the exclusive right to authorise the broadcasting and communication to the public of their unfixed performances except where the performance is already a broadcast performance, and the exclusive right to authorise the recording of their unfixed performances.
The rights of audiovisual performers are further expanded in the subsequent articles of the treaty.
Performers are given the exclusive right to authorise the direct or indirect reproduction of their performances fixed in audiovisual form; the making available to the public of the original and copies of their performances fixed in audiovisual form through sale or other transfer of ownership; the commercial rental to the public of the original and copies of their performances fixed in audiovisual form; the making available to the public of their performances fixed in audiovisual form, by wire or wireless means, which may be accessed by the public from a place and at a time individually chosen by them; and the broadcasting and communication to the public of their performances fixed in audiovisual form.
These rights are similar to the scope that relate to all classes of performers’ rights under Section 203 of the IP Code. Others relate exclusively to sound recordings.
It is hoped that the Philippines will soon ratify the Beijing treaty which recognises and provides these rights to audiovisual performers, thus filling a void in the IP Code. The Philippines has one year to accede to the treaty.