UNITED NATIONS -Calling movies a ‘global passion’, the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) said the industry deserves to be protected by intellectual property laws.

On World Intellectual Property Day, which is observed on April 26 each year, the organization is highlighting the importance of protecting the global film industry, an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people. 

The day is celebrated to raise awareness about the role of intellectual property rights in stimulating innovation and creativity. ‘Movies have always attracted global audiences…from the very first silent movies,’ General Francis Gurry, Director of the Geneva-based WIPO, said in a message for World IP Day 2014. ‘We have witnessed the growth not only of global audiences, but also of global production,’ pointed out Gurry, noting that while Hollywood was once the dominant player, film industries around the world now flourish.

‘Be it Bollywood in India, Nollywood in Nigeria, or in Scandinavia, North Africa, China or other parts of Asia – movies really are a global passion,’ Gurry evinced. To mark the Day, WIPO is helping to facilitate events in dozens of countries. Via the IP Day Facebook page, movie lovers around the world can learn about the history of film, the latest trends and how intellectual property helps to promote creativity and innovation.

In a video message, the WIPO chief said movies are a direct product of intellectual property. ‘You start with a script, which is the intellectual property of an author or screenwriter. Then there are the actors, whose performances are their intellectual property. Then there is music, in which the composers and the performers have intellectual property,’ he said, adding:’ IP underlies the whole film industry.’

 ‘On World IP Day this year, I invite movie lovers everywhere, when next you watch a movie, to think for a moment about all the creators and innovators who have had a part in making that movie,’ said Mr. Gurry in his message. The WIPO Director also urged everyone to think about the digital challenge that the Internet presents for film.

‘I believe it is the responsibility not just of policy-makers but of each of us to consider this challenge, and to ask ourselves: How can we take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to democratize culture and to make creative works available at the click of a mouse, while, at the same time, ensuring that the creators can keep on creating, earning their living, and making the films that so enrich our lives?’  Gurry asserted. In Geneva, WIPO is screening the Swiss premiere of the Nigerian/British co-production of author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's ‘Half of a Yellow Sun,’ a story of Nigeria's civil war with an international cast featuring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton and others.