Uncover the Berne Convention

Uncover the Berne Convention

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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.

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