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Javier Bardem hails new treaty for actors' rights

The treaty gives performers rights over the reproduction, distribution and rental of their audiovisual performances, which could mean they are able to earn more money.

A YouTube screengrab shows Javier Bardem address the United Nations.

GENEVA - A new international treaty giving new rights to film and television actors will come into force in April, the UN said Tuesday, in a development hailed by Spanish screen star Javier Bardem as "an act of justice".

The Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances was adopted in 2012, but is only coming into force now that the minimum required number of 30 countries have ratified it.

"The Beijing Treaty is the most important thing that has happened to actors since the invention of cinema," Bardem said in a video distributed alongside the announcement by the UN's World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

The treaty gives performers rights over the reproduction, distribution and rental of their audiovisual performances, which could mean they are able to earn more money.

It updates previous multilateral provisions agreed in 1961 for the digital era and extends to actors some of the same protections enjoyed by musicians, giving them more power to decide how their performances are used.

Spanish star Bardem said it would allow actors to "participate fairly in the use of our audiovisual work" and would give performers "more dignified lives".

"It puts an end to a historic injustice which has prevented actors from receiving the basic rights long enjoyed by musicians and other creators.

"It represents an act of justice for actors, and a show of solidarity that benefits society as a whole," he said.

WIPO chief Francis Gurry said many audiovisual performers "could in fact use some support in ensuring the sustainability of their livelihoods."

"The Beijing Treaty bolsters AV performers' rights to their work, which translates into rising earnings, and promotes the economic sustainability of the audiovisual industry that delights us all," he said.

China, Japan and Russia are among the 30 countries that have ratified the treaty. But big players including the European Union and the United States have not.

"Eventually, we would expect most of the big players to join," Michele Woods, director of WIPO's copyright law division, told AFP.

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