International Copyright – the Berne Convention
The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works was signed in 1886 with only a few member countries. This has grown to 165 member states. The Berne Convention, along with 23 other international conventions, is administered through the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), an organ of the United Nations.
The Berne Convention basically provides for reciprocal copyright arrangements between member states. This means that if a person has copyright over a literary work in Australia, and it is later published in the Bahamas then Bahaman copyright law will apply, even though the initial copyright was held in Australia. This means that there is international recognition of copyright and the rights attached to copyright. Before the Berne Convention, a work created in one country had copyright there but nowhere else. So, a work could be reproduced and distributed in another country and it would not be a copyright infringement. This is no longer the case between member states.
Another aspect of the Berne Convention that makes the reciprocal recognition of copyright valuable is the setting of minimum standards for copyright law between member states. The minimum standards cover the exclusive rights of copyright, such as the right to make reproductions, as well as moral rights.
Page last updated 13/12/2017