A new international treaty aiming to protect musicians and the recording industry from internet and digital piracy is set to go into effect in May, the Wipo (World Intellectual Property Organization) announced yesterday.

The treaty, dubbed the WTTP (Wipo Phonograms and Performances Treaty), finally attained its needed number of ratifications with the addition of Honduras on Wednesday and is now ready to go into force on 20 May.

According to the group, the WTTP provides a legal basis to prevent unauthorised use of musical works on digital networks.

It is meant to work in conjunction with its sister treaty, the WTO (Wipo Copyright Treaty), which provides the same sort of protection for companies in the culture and information industries. The WTO is set to take effect on 6 March.

Both treaties were adopted in 1996 but have only just received the required number of signatories.

Although the treaties provide a legal framework of rights, they do not overrule national laws.

It remains to be seen how civil rights groups respond to the adoption of the treaties, however, given widespread grumbling in the US over similar national legislation.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, passed by the US Congress in 1998, has already come under fire, particularly for its anticircumvention provisions which prohibit the disabling of copyright protection measures.

The WTTP also contains anticircumvention provisions.

More information about the treaties can be found at the Wipo website.