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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 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) announced Thursday.

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

According to the group, the WTTP provides a legal basis to prevent unauthorized use of musical works on digital networks. It is meant to work in conjunction with its sister treaty, the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WTO), which provides the same sort of protection for companies in the culture and information industries. The WTO is set to take effect on March 6.

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

"Entry into force of these two key treaties represent a landmark in the history of international law of copyright and neighboring rights," WIPO Director General Kamil Idris said in a statement. "The stage is now set to offer more comprehensive protection for creators and creative enterprises in the digital environment."

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 U.S. over similar national legislation.

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

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Scarlet Pruitt

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