5 Facts to Know About International Copyright Law

5 Facts to Know About International Copyright Law

5 Facts to Know About International Copyright Law

International Copyright Law

International copyright law is the cooperative agreement between participating nations for the recognition of copyrights in foreign countries. However, international copyright does not actually exist in terms of an enforceable system of legislation and regulations, but rather in the forms of treaties drafted and signed by nations that adhere to the provisions provide for a uniform application of copyright laws at the international level.

Various treaties, such as the Berne Convention and the WIPO Copyright Treaty, are examples of international treaties that provide for copyrights relations and statutes between foreign nations. Though many countries may already have their own system of copyright laws, for the purpose of foreign works and copyrights, international regulation is necessary so as to provide for the inherent copyright laws to protect the author or owner of copyrighted materials or works.

International Copyright Act of 1891

The International Copyright Act of 1891 was the first
Act that offered any copyright protection in the United States to citizens of countries other than the United States. The Act also made it more likely for the work of American creators to be copyrighted in foreign countries. If a foreign citizen mailed descriptions or their entire work to the Library of Congress at least by the day their work was published, they could receive copyright protection in the United States and any other country the United States shares copyright agreement with. All work sent to the Library of Congress had to be done using American materials to increase the rate of imports and exports. If a country failed to recognize the work of American creators, work sent from anyone in that country to the Library of Congress would be denied a copyright.

Berne Convention

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works was the first international treaty composed for the proper recognition of copyrighted works or materials on foreign lands, as well as to provide for proper protection of such work and its respective authors or owners from copyright infringement or piracy. The Berne Convention was agreed upon and accepted in 1886, in Berne, Switzerland, by various countries or nations. It also introduced the administrative office of the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property in 1893, which would eventually become the World Intellectual Property Organization in 1967, which has become one of the most important factions regarding international copyright laws today. The Berne Convention provides for a minimum standard in regards to copyright laws at the international level so as to provide for equal treatment of copyrighted works and their authors or owners in foreign nations.

WIPO Copyright Treaty

The World Intellectual Property Organization agreement on copyright law, commonly referred to as the WIPO Copyright Treaty, was passed in 1996 under the aegis of the United Nations. The agreement was drafted toward the end of providing for the emerging era in accelerated use of digital and online technologies and providing a common international standard for understanding how traditional forms of copyright stood in relation to these new tools for information and business. It was issued as a clarification of the language in Article 20 of the Berne Convention, the earliest European treaty for general enforcement of copyright law.

The WIPO Copyright Treaty allowed for computer programs to receive the same protections due to literary works, exclusive rights for sale, rental and other forms of distribution of a work to remain with the creator, and tampering with electronic safeguards to be forbidden. Ratification of the Treaty imposes the obligation on signatory nations of passing laws toward the specific end of enforcing the WIPO copyright stipulations within their jurisdiction.


The World Trade Organization's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, otherwise known as the WTO TRIPS
Agreement, creates an economic incentive for national policies of adherence to the minimal recommended level of enforcement for intellectual property rights through the advantages in trade and commerce gained through membership. This Agreement was negotiated during the 1986-1994 Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, which climaxed with its passage and the creation of the new infrastructure of the WTO.

Due to criticism that its regularization of intellectual property rights was geared toward the benefit of more financially and technologically developed nations, the WTO called the Doha Round in 2001 to advise remedies. The TRIPS agreement also pertained to digitally created content, which it placed under the same copyright protection as literary works. The granting of intellectual property rights primarily operates in term of the ability to block other individuals from using the work under copyright. 




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