If and when there is a new copyright bill introduced before a possibly imminent election, there will be much talk about the 1996 WIPO treaties.
It is obvious that
And, in the meantime, let’s be accurate about just what
I have often said and been quoted on the principle that that signing a treaty is to ratification about the same as dating is to marriage. The latter does not necessarily follow from the former, and the influences on the relationship during the dating (i.e. signature) phase are, just as in person to person relationships, often defined more by influences other than legal “obligations.” Let’s just leave it at that.
But, there’s no need to take my word for this.
The effect of signature is not, of course, to bind the signatory State but simply represents an acknowledgment of its intention to enact a law based on the Convention and, in due course, to ratify the Convention. It is only the ratification of the Convention by an existing member State which has signed the Convention, or accession to the Convention by a new member State, which creates an international legal obligation.
Coming from WIPO, that is about as strong a statement as one can find from a credible institutional source, and is not inconsistent with my simple dating analogy.
Others see the effect of signature as even less. Prof. J. Craig Barker puts it as follows:
The effect of signature is not, as one might expect, to bind a state to the terms of a treaty. There is usually a further stage of ratification required before a state party can be said to be fully bound. Nevertheless, the signature of a state to a treaty is not without effect. A state that has signed, but not yet ratified, a treaty is bound not to do anything contrary to the objects and purposes of that treaty prior to ratification or withdrawal of signature. However, a state is not bound to follow the terms of a treaty in their entirety until ratification.
The point is very simple.
Let us be precise with our language here and not use language too loosely. There is too much at stake.