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What You Didn’t Know About the Berne Convention

What You Didn't Know About the Berne Convention

The Berne Convention for the Protection
of Literary and Artistic Works is an international treaty that imposes certain
regulations and statutes that are accepted by its collective members, or
signatories. The Berne Convention was created to institute a cohesive
amalgamation of international copyright law for the purpose of convenience and
ease of interpretation between countries.

Before the Berne Convention, countries
had their own copyright processes and laws that would make the recognition of
other countries’ copyright laws a confusing matter. The institution of an
international copyright law allows for the proper interpretation of general
copyright laws and legislation between countries so aspects such as copyright
infringement can be properly assessed and regulated.

The Berne Convention, as the international
agreement is commonly referred, derives its name from the city in which it was
first accepted as an international copyright law, Berne, Switzerland, in 1886.
The Berne Convention was first developed by a member of the Association
Litteraire et Artistique Internationale, Victor Hugo. 

One the most notable
inclusions of provisions in the Berne Convention is the fact that under its
legislation, creative works and their copyrights are inferred upon their
creation and no proper registration or application for copyright is necessary.
Copyrights are inherited naturally upon a creative works production.

Once a work is termed as “fixed,”
or written and/or recorded in some physical form, the author of such work is
granted copyrights to that particular work, and any other creative works
stemming from the original. The copyright remains in the author’s possession
until the copyright term expires, or the author explicitly gives up his/her
right to copyright ownership. 

Thus, under this provision, nations under the
Berne Convention must recognize the copyrights of authors and their works from
foreign countries and consider them under domestic copyright law statutes as
having the same privileges and rights.

The Berne Convention became an
international copyright law that was influenced by the French concept of
“right of the author,” as opposed to the United Kingdom’s concept of
copyright, which was solely based on economic and monetary concerns. The
inherent development of the Berne Convention and its philosophy and structure
are evidence that there were different notions regarding copyrights that varied
from nation to nation, thus making the development of cohesive standards for
international copyright law deemed to be necessary.

Before the Berne Convention, any
particular published work could be created and be protected under its own
nation’s copyright laws, but in another, the work could be copied and
distributed freely. Nations were not forced or required to observe foreign
copyright laws and would often refuse to adhere to them because they did not
apply under their own national copyright laws and standards. The Berne
Convention would allow for the integration of copyright laws so that all
nations’ authors and their creative works or materials’ copyrights could be
protected under one international copyright law, regardless if the respective
nations had their own particular system or process for copyright.

The Berne Convention was also influenced by the
Paris Convention, allowing for the integration of recognition of other types
intellectual property, as well as setting up a bureau to handle the
administrative responsibilities of the new statutes. By 1893, the Berne
Convention instituted the United International Bureaux for the Protection of
Intellectual Property, situated in Geneva. 

The main purpose of this Bureau,
also known as BIRPI, was to simply apply and enforce the provisions of the Berne
Convention. BIRPI would eventually move its headquarters to Geneva in 1960,
which was also home to the United Nations. BIRPI would become the predecessor
to the World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, which was created in

As per the structure and provisions granted in the
Berne Convention, the United States did become a member or signatory on March
1st, 1989, when the United States would pass the Berne Convention
Implementation Act of 1988. The reason that the U.S. refused to join the Berne
Convention previously was because copyright laws and the required registration
and mandatory notice of copyright were implemented into U.S. legislation.
Joining the convention would incur major revisions and changes to copyright

The inclusion of moral rights was also an
issue that prompted the refusal to join. However, the United States would
eventually realize the need for a governing international copyright law, and
even though it did have to amend and revise some legal statutes, the U.S. still
has its original system of copyright registration and overall statutes.
Currently, the Berne Convention is upheld by 164 countries around the world.

All You Need to Know About The Berne Convention Content

All You Need to Know About The Berne Convention Content

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works of 1886 has as its main purpose of providing for unifying a collection of copyright laws to be adhered to at the international level. The provisions and guidelines provided by the Berne Convention has at its core a philosophy of simplicity. The Berne Convention is based upon three basic principles that contain certain guidelines outlining the basic means of copyright protection. The three basic principles are as follows:
All works created and published in one of the aligned countries with the Berne Convention shall grant the author and his/her perspective works or materials the same copyrights and protection in the other aligned nations under the Berne Convention. 
In other words, countries must provide for the same copyrights and protections that its own citizens receive under law for their published works or materials to all foreign authors and their copyrighted works, as long as their countries of origin are part of the Berne Convention. 
Copyrights and protection of the author under copyright laws are considered to be “automatic”. Copyrights are to be considered inherent based upon the creation and publication of a work and are not subject to conditional or required registration or notification to acquire copyrights and protection.
The copyright recognition and protection administered by the Berne Convention is independent. In other words, the Berne Convention legislation is to apply regardless of a particular nation’s own copyright laws and regulations. 
However, in certain instances where a country applies a term of expiration of a copyright to their works or materials of an author, it must be noted that the Berne Convention has its own expiration terms. 
If the country’s expiration term for a copyright is longer than the original nation of origin of a certain work, protection and copyrights under the Berne Convention may be denied. 
The copyright and protection of such a work will adhere to the expiration terms of its original place of origin or publication. This is often referred to as “the rule of shorter term.” It is important to note that not all countries have accepted this regulation under the Berne Convention.
These three basic guidelines allow for a very basic and minimal implementation of legislation for the recognition of copyrights and the author and his/her created works or materials protection. Many countries, such as the United States, may have more regulatory or stricter statutes in their own legislation systems, but the recognition of foreign works in their own countries must adhere to the Berne Convention rules.
The United States proves to be a great example as to why international copyright legislation became necessary. The United States only allows for copyright infringement suits to be charged if the owner of a particular work had registered the work in question with the United States Copyright Office. 
No copyright infringement suit would be recognized unless the work was properly registered. This legislation would prove to be a problem for works that originated or were first published in other countries and were not registered with the Copyright Office. The opportunity for copyright infringement to occur on such foreign works would not be held accountable or punishable by law. 
Because of such legislation, the United States did not join the Berne Convention until 1989, but it still applies its original copyright registration process for national works and does not deem it necessary for international works to be properly registered in the United States in order to have the ability to bring up copyright infringement suits against violators or commissions of piracy.
The Berne Convention also institutes some basic copyright standards of protection to compliment the three basic principles. Firstly, copyright protection under this international copyright agreement will include works that can be considered of literary, artistic, or scientific origins, regardless of the means of reproduction or media in which they are produced. The Berne Convention also provides for a list of basic rights to be adhered to by all countries that are signatories to this international provision as it applies to international copyrighted works: 
● The right to translate;
● The right to make certain adaptations or arrangements;
● The right to perform applicable works;
● The right to public recitation;
● The right to communicate the performance of applicable works (i.e: media reviews for concerts, plays, performances, etc.);
● The right to broadcast the performance of applicable works;
● The right to reproduction. 
This provision may be subject to the nation or country allowing for permission for reproduction. Also, no actual authorization may be needed if the reproduction of a copyrighted work will not defile the original content or intention of the work and the owner of the copyrighted work will not be subject to defamation and will be properly compensated, if such compensation is in order (as in the case of the performing arts and their various modes of production).
The right to use a particular work as the basis of audiovisual purposes, and the right to reproduce, perform, or distributed that particular audiovisual work is also included in this Agreement.
Another aspect that the Berne Convention also incorporates is the concept of “moral rights.” These rights are to give exclusive privilege to to the owner of a copyrighted work to denounce any kind of modification or derogatory action otherwise intended by the work itself or the author’s personal will, as such modification may affect the author or copyright owner’s reputation in a negative way.
The Berne Convention also applies a period of copyright protection and rights that has an expiration date. Generally, a work is protected under the Berne Convention provisions no less than fifty years after the author’s death. If such a work is published anonymously or pseudonymously, the fifty year term is applied to the date of the work’s first publication rather the author’s death. 
The exception for this particular instance is if a pseudonymously published work can provide for a positive identification of the actual author or copyright owner of such work, or if the author makes it known publicly that the work is published under a pseudonym. In that event, it reverts to the original limitation of fifty years after the death of the author.
For the case of audiovisual works, such as feature films and motion pictures, the fifty year period applies to the date of the work’s release to the general public. If the work is not publicly released, then it applies to the date of its creation. For applied arts and photography, the term is shortened to twenty-five years from the date of creation of that particular work.
The Berne Convention also provides for the structure of its Council, which is made up of an Assembly and an Executive Committee. All countries and nations that are considered as signatories or adhere to the Berne Convention statutes are members of the Assembly. 
The Executive Committee is elected by members of the union or Assembly, with the exception of Switzerland, which is a member by virtue of office. All countries and nations are eligible to join as signatories to the Berne 

Uncover the Berne Convention

Uncover the Berne Convention

The Berne
Convention undertook the challenge of instituting an international copyright
law that all countries and nations could adhere to so that the violation of
copyrighted material and infringement at the transnational level could be
avoided. The Berne Convention modeled much of its structure according to the
Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property of 1883.

Aside from
creating a cohesive and simple structure for international copyright law, it
also allowed for integration of intellectual property, such as patents and
trademarks. In the architectural vein of the Paris Convention, the Berne
Convention itself decided to establish a bureau to be responsible for the
administrative processes to handle the legislation and enactment of the new
international copyright law.

In seeking
to create a bureau, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Literary and
Artistic Works and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and
Artistic Works decided to combine their efforts and administrative factions,
and in 1893 the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual
Property was born, or BIRPI, which is the French acronym for the administrative
bureau. The consolidation of both administrative offices would coordinate and
allocate the necessary responsibilities to appropriately enact the Berne
Convention’s legislation and international copyright law.

BIRPI was first established in the birth city of
the Convention itself, Berne, Switzerland. By 1960, the BIRPI was moved to
Geneva, which at the time was also the home of the United Nations. The move
would make it easier for BIRPI to consult with the various countries and
nations for the consolidation of a single conglomeration of international
copyright law for the purpose of effective copyright control and enforcement at
the international level. 

However, BIRPI would only last seven years after its
move to Geneva because by 1967 BIRPI would change its name to the World
Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, which would become integrated as
an organization as part of the United Nations in 1974.

BIRPI still
exists today as the WIPO, which currently holds as its purpose “to
encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property
throughout the world.” In its current state, the WIPO boasts 184 countries
or member states. Almost all of the members of the United Nations are part of
the WIPO.

As of
October 1st, 2008, the Director-General of the WIPO is Francis Gurry. The last
BIRPI director was Georg Bodenhausen. Though the BIRPI became the WIPO, the
overall purpose of the organization as originally intended is still the
philosophy observed by its modern counterpart today.