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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.