On November 17, 2021, Vietnam deposited its instrument of accession to the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty (WCT), becoming the 111th member of the WCT. The provisions of the WCT will officially take effect in Vietnam three months after the date the document is handed over to the Director General of WIPO, i.e., by February 17, 2022.
The WCT is a special agreement under the Berne Convention that was first adopted in 1996 to deal with the protection of works and their copyright in the digital environment. The WCT additionally deals with two important objects that should be protected by copyright: (i) computer programs created in any form of expression, and (ii) databases of any kind, as long as the selection or arrangement of database content is intellectually creative.
With respect to rights granted to authors, in addition to those recognized by the Berne Convention, the WCT also grants (i) distribution rights, (ii) rental rights, and (iii) broader rights of communication to the public.
With respect to limitations and exceptions, Article 10 of the WCT extends to all rights the application of the “three-step” test originally set forth in Article 9(2) of the Berne Convention for the right to reproduction. That is, member states may legislate limitations and exceptions in national law, provided they are in certain special cases (i.e., they are not overly broad), do not conflict with the exploitation of the work, and do not prejudice the legitimate interests of the author. Member states may introduce new exceptions and limitations appropriate to the digital environment, as long as the conditions of the “three-step” test are met.
Vietnam’s accession to the WCT not only helps the country meet its commitments in new-generation free-trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), but also creates an effective legal foundation to protect works and copyrights in the digital environment, currently one of the most problematic IP issues in Vietnam.
Together with the upcoming amendments to Vietnam’s Law on Intellectual Property, we expect that Vietnam’s accession to the WCT will contribute to the transparent and effective protection of copyrights, especially in cyberspace.