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WIPO Copyright Treaty

The WIPO Copyright Treaty, adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1996, provides additional protections for copyright deemed necessary in the modern information era. It ensures that computer programs are protected as literary works (Article 4) and that the arrangement and selection of material in databases is protected (Article 5). It provides authors of works with control over their rental and distribution (Articles 6–8) which they may not have under the Berne Convention alone. And it prohibits circumvention of technological measures for the protection of works (Article 11) and unauthorised modification of rights management information contained in works (Article 12).

The WIPO Copyright Treaty is implemented in United States law by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). By Decision of 16 March 2000, the European Council approved the treaty, on behalf of the European Community. EU Directives 91/250/EC (copyright protection for software) 96/9/EC (database protection) and 2001/29/EC (protection for anti-circumvention technologies and rights management technologies) largely cover the subject matter of the treaty.

However, although the U.S. Congress passed both the DMCA and a copyright term extension during the same week and used the same method (voice vote) to make it less likely that the news media would report on the bills, and the European Union adopted its own copyright term extension around the same time, the WIPO Copyright Treaty made no reference to copyright term extension beyond the existing terms of the Berne Convention.

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