Berne Convention: International Legal Basis of Copyright Protection

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International Copyright Am Badar & Am Badar Intellectual Property (IP) Law Firm

Copyright protection ensures that creators have economic and moral rights regarding their own works. Governments have provided copyright regulations and the supporting framework to foster innovation and creativity, with moral fairness in mind. However, in this age of globalization, the world seems smaller than ever.

Works are easily infringed by the click of a button. Given that copyright regulations are only enforced in its specific jurisdiction, how do creators deal with their work being infringed overseas? Is there such a thing as “international” copyright?

Read also: Plagiarism on Copyright.

A Brief of International Copyright

It is imperative to understand that the concept of an “international-copyright” encompassing worldwide protection via a solitary registration is non-existent, as copyright legislation has a national and “territorial” reach. 

Irrespective of geographical location or initial publication date, the extent of copyright protection granted to a work is contingent upon the domestic legislation of the jurisdiction in which protection is sought. 

This idea has significant ramifications for you in every nation. Because copyright laws have no extraterritorial effect, acts of infringement that occur outside the jurisdiction of your country cannot be addressed under its Copyright Act, regardless of the protection you have obtained for the work in your home country.

Berne Convention: The Most Relevant International Copyright

Although a global copyright does not exist, the Berne Convention Protection of Literary and Artistic Works exists to answer many problems concerning the protection of works on an international scale. A set of international laws, the Berne Convention for the safeguards copyrighted works against infringement throughout its member states. 

The convention was started in 1886, when ten European nations (There are currently more than 180 member states) convened in Berne, Switzerland, to establish a foundation of international copyright protection. The Berne Convention mandates certain standards of copyright protection and the obligation of member states to safeguard the works created by citizens of other member states. 

The convention does not necessarily mean that all member states have uniformed regulation. For example, Copyright norms dictate that works are deemed protected upon their physical manifestation and do not necessitate registration. While some members, such as the United States, may mandate the registration of works by their own citizens in the event of a lawsuit, it is generally not obligatory for members to demand the registration of works by foreign citizens. 

The Berne Convention establishes numerous additional rules that are essential for facilitating cross-border cooperation in international copyright laws. For instance, members are obligated to grant authors authority over the reproduction of their works and safeguard copyrighted materials for a predetermined duration of time, which varies by work type. 

Essential Features of Copyright Protection

Below are some of the essential features of copyright protection that are mandated by convention.

1. Automatic Copyright Protection

International copyright protection is automatically granted in all Berne member countries worldwide when a work is created in a fixed form, which refers to a tangible manifestation of the work. Accordingly, copyright protection does not necessitate any form of registration or deposit with a government copyright office.

However, such systems are administered voluntarily by the government. By registering their works with these systems, copyright holders can become eligible for specific advantages, particularly in situations involving infringement of their works.

In a similar fashion, the Berne Convention and, by extension, its member states do not require the use of the copyright symbol. Using the symbol, however, to indicate that a work is protected by copyright is always a good idea.

2. Copyright Duration

In each nation, the copyright statute governs the duration of copyright. It is life-plus-seventy in the European Union (EU), Canada, and the United States. Varying degrees of deviation from these overarching principles of copyright duration may be attributable to particular works and circumstances.

Once international copyright has expired, a work is considered to be in the public domain and may be used, adapted, and reproduced without restriction. You can console this matter with a professional IP law firm which offers copyright service.

3. Three Basic Principles

The Berne Convention is founded upon three fundamental principles. Below is the list and each brief information:

  • Under the “national treatment” principle, works that originate in one of the Contracting States (i.e., works whose author is a national of that State or works initially published in that State) shall be afforded equivalent protection in all other Contracting States as those that grant the same protection to the works of their nationals.
  • Protection should not be contingent on the observance of any formalities; this kind of international copyright is known as the “automatic” protection principle.
  • Protection is granted irrespective of the presence of protection in the nation where the work was created (principle of “independence” of protection). However, in the event that a Contracting State grants an extended duration of protection beyond the bare minimum specified by the Convention, and once the work is no longer protected in its country of origin, safeguarding may be withheld.

If you are interested in registering your copyright, do not hesitate to rely on the help of the best IP law firm–Am Badar & Am Badar which offers the most professional copyright service. Contact us and get more insights about copyright, now!


Reviewed by Nabil Argya Yusuf

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