WIPO Copyright Treaty

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WIPO Copyright Treaty
World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty
Signed 20 December 1996
Location Geneva, Switzerland[1]
Effective 6 March 2002[1]
Condition 30 ratifications[1]
Parties 95[2]
Depositary Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization[1]
Languages English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish[1]
WIPO Copyright Treaty at Wikisource

The World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty (WIPO Copyright Treaty or WCT) is an international treaty on copyright law adopted by the member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1996. It provides additional protections for copyright deemed necessary due to advances in information technology since the formation of previous copyright treaties before it. 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 in Articles 6 to 8 which they may not have under the Berne Convention alone. It also prohibits circumvention of technological measures for the protection of works (Article 11) and unauthorized modification of rights management information contained in works (Article 12). As of February 2016, the treaty has been ratified by 95 states.

There have been a variety of criticisms of this treaty, including that it is too broad (for example in its prohibition of circumvention of technical protection measures, even where such circumvention is used in the pursuit of legal and fair use rights) and that it applies a "one size fits all" standard to all signatory countries despite widely differing stages of economic development and knowledge industry.


The WIPO Copyright Treaty is implemented in United States law by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). By Decision 2000/278/EC of 16 March 2000, the Council of the European Union approved the treaty on behalf of the European Community. European Union Directives which largely cover the subject matter of the treaty are: Directive 91/250/EC creating copyright protection for software, Directive 96/9/EC on copyright protection for databases and Directive 2001/29/EC prohibiting devices for circumventing "technical protection measures" such as digital rights management.

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