International Legal Framework for Protection of Copyright

International Legal Framework for Protection of Copyright

International Legal Framework for Protection of Copyright

Copyrights are protected on a global scale by a set of treaties (agreements or contracts between two or more countries). Countries agree to safeguard each other’s copyrighted works under these treaties as long as the other countries agree to do the same.

The vast majority of countries in the world are signatories to one or more copyright treaties, which provide copyrighted works with some level of worldwide protection. The majority of countries in the world have signed one or more copyright treaties. The various accords between countries are essentially a web of copyright rules. Some of the treaties will be discussed in depth in this long essay.

The Berne Convention of 1886

In 1886, Berne, Switzerland hosted the first international copyright convention, which culminated in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (commonly known as the Berne Convention).

The Berne Convention is the single most important copyright pact because it is signed by the majority of the world’s major countries (a list of all countries who are members of the Berne Convention can be downloaded or viewed here under “Contracting Parties”). The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations organization situated in Geneva, Switzerland, administers the Berne Convention.

The principle of national treatment is the foundation of the Berne Convention. This means that each Berne member country promises to provide at least the same level of copyright protection to citizens of other Berne member countries as it does to its own residents.

In addition to national treatment, the Berne Convention establishes certain baseline protection criteria that must be met by all member countries. The following are some of the most essential minimum standards: Copyright protection must last at least as long as the author’s life plus 50 years.

The Berne Convention is concerned with the protection of works and their creators’ rights. It is founded on three basic concepts and includes a set of rules that determine the minimum level of protection to be provided, as well as additional provisions for developing nations that wish to take advantage of them. (1) The following are the three fundamental principles: (a) Works originating in one of the Contracting States (that is, works whose author is a national of such a State or works originally published in such a State) must be afforded the same protection in all other Contracting States as the latter accords to its own nationals’ works (principle of “national treatment”) (b) Protection shall not be contingent on the fulfillment of any formality (principle of “automatic” protection). (c) Protection is provided regardless of whether or not protection exists in the country where the work was created (principle of “independence” of protection). If, on the other hand, a Contracting State provides for a longer period of protection than the Convention’s minimum, and the work ceases to be protected in the country of origin, protection may be denied after the work ceases to be protected in the country of origin.

The Convention also establishes “moral rights,” which include the right to claim authorship of a work and the right to object to any mutilation, deformation, or other modification of the work, as well as any other derogatory action taken in relation to it, that would be harmful to the author’s honor or reputation.

The Berne Convention allows certain limitations and exceptions on economic rights, that is, cases in which protected works may be used without the authorization of the owner of the copyright, and without payment of compensation.

These limitations are commonly referred to as “free uses” of protected works, and are set forth in Articles 9(2) (reproduction in certain special cases), (quotations and use of works by way of illustration for teaching purposes), (reproduction of newspaper or similar articles and use of works for the purpose of reporting current events) and (ephemeral recordings for broadcasting purposes).

The Berne Convention, which was signed in 1886 and revised in Paris and Berlin in 1896 and 1908, was finalized in Berne in 1914, revised in Rome in 1928, Brussels in 1948, Stockholm in 1967, and Paris in 1971, and amended in 1979. All countries are welcome to participate in the Convention. Instruments of ratification or accession must be lodged with the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The Universal Copyright Convention

The Universal Copyright Convention (UCC), adopted in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1952, is one of the two principal international conventions protecting copyright; the other is the Berne Convention.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) devised the UCC as an alternative to the Berne Convention for countries who disagreed with features of the Berne Convention but still wanted to participate in global copyright protection. Developing countries, as well as the United States and most of Latin America, were included in this group.

The developing countries believed that the Berne Convention’s strong copyright protections disproportionately benefited Western, developed, copyright-exporting countries, despite the fact that the US and Latin America were already members of the Buenos Aires Convention, a weaker Pan-American copyright convention than the Berne Convention. The Berne Convention states also joined the UCC, ensuring that their copyrights were protected in non-Berne Convention countries. The Soviet Union joined the UCC in 1973.

The United States only provided copyright protection for a set period of time that may be renewed, and required that a work be copyrighted by including a copyright notice and registering with the Copyright Office. The Berne Convention, on the other hand, guaranteed copyright protection for a single period, based on the author’s life, and did not require registration or the insertion of a copyright notice to be valid. As a result, in order to join the Berne Convention, the United States would have to make numerous significant changes to its copyright legislation.

The United States was unwilling to do so at the time. As a result, the UCC allows states that had a protection system similar to the United States for fixed terms at the time of signature to keep it. The United States eventually agreed to join the Berne Convention and amend its national copyright laws as required. As a result of the Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988, it became a party to the Berne Convention in 1989.

The United Nations, UN specialized agencies, and the Organization of American States are all required by the Second Protocol of the Universal Copyright Convention (Paris text) to have their works protected under US copyright law (OAS). [1] Other contracting states must comply with the same requirements.

The UCC has lost significance because practically all nations are members or aspiring members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and so conform with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

The Rome Convention

The Rome Convention protects performers in performances, creators of phonograms in phonograms, and broadcasting organizations in broadcasts.

  • Performers (actors, singers, musicians, dancers, and those who perform literary or artistic works) are protected from certain acts to which they have not given their consent, such as the broadcasting and communication to the public of a live performance; the fixation of the live performance; and the reproduction of the fixation if the original fixation was made without the performer’s consent or for purposes other than those for which consent was given.
  • Producers of phonograms have the authority to permit or ban direct or indirect reproduction of their recordings. “Phonograms” is defined in the Rome Convention as any entirely aural fixation of sounds from a performance or other noises. A single equitable recompense must be paid by the user to the performers, the makers of the phonograms, or both when a phonogram published for commercial reasons gives rise to secondary uses (such as broadcasting or distribution to the public in any form). Contracting States, on the other hand, are allowed to ignore or limit the applicability of this norm.
  • Broadcasting organizations have the authority to permit or prohibit certain actions, including the rebroadcasting of their broadcasts, the fixation of their broadcasts, the reproduction of such fixations, and the communication to the public of their television broadcasts if such communication is made in public places with a fee.

In terms of private use, use of short excerpts in connection with reporting current events, ephemeral fixation by a broadcasting organization using its own facilities and for its own broadcasts, use solely for the purpose of teaching or scientific research, and any other cases where national law provides exceptions to copyright in literary and artistic works, the Rome Convention allows for limitations and exceptions to the above-mentioned rights in national laws. Furthermore, if a performer has agreed to a performance being incorporated into a visual or audiovisual fixation, the laws on performers’ rights are no longer applicable.

For phonograms and performances integrated therein, protection must endure at least until the end of a 20-year term calculated from the end of the year in which (a) the fixation was created; (b) the performance took place; and (c) the broadcast took place. National laws, at least for phonograms and performances, are progressively providing for a 50-year period of protection.

The Rome Convention is administered by WIPO in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). These three organizations make up the Secretariat of the Convention’s Intergovernmental Committee, which is made up of members from 12 Contracting States.

The Convention makes no provision for the formation of a Union or the establishment of a budget. It creates an Intergovernmental Committee made up of Contracting States that reviews issues relating to the Convention. States that have signed the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886) or the Universal Copyright Convention are eligible to participate in this convention. Instruments of ratification or accession must be deposited with the United Nations Secretary-General. States have the right to voice reservations about the applicability of certain clauses.

The WIPO Treaties of 1998

The WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) is a specific agreement under the Berne Convention that deals with the digital protection of works and the rights of their authors. The substantive provisions of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works’ 1971 (Paris) Act must be followed by any Contracting Party (even if it is not bound by the Berne Convention) (1886).

Furthermore, the WCT lists two subject matters that are protected by copyright: I computer programmes, regardless of their mode or form of expression; and (ii) compilations of data or other material (“databases”), in any form, that constitute intellectual creations due to the selection or arrangement of their contents. (A database that does not constitute such a creation is not covered by this Treaty.)

Apart from the rights recognised by the Berne Convention, the Treaty further offers authors the following rights: I the right of distribution; (ii) the right of renting; and (iii) a larger right of public communication.

  • The right of distribution is the authority to make the original and copies of a work available to the public through the sale or other transfer of ownership.
  • The right of rental is the right to authorise the commercial rental to the public of the original and copies of three types of works: I computer programmes (except where the computer programme is not the essential object of the rental); (ii) cinematographic works (but only where commercial rental has resulted in widespread copying of such works, materially impairing the exclusive right of reproduction); and (iii) works embodied in phonograms as determined in the nat (except for countries which, since April 15, 1994, have had a system in force for equitable remuneration of such rental).
  • The right of communication to the public includes “the making available to the public of works in such a way that members of the public may access the work from a place and at a time individually chosen by them,” as well as “the making available to the public of works in such a way that members of the public may access the work from a place and at a time individually chosen by them.” The phrase in question refers to on-demand, interactive communication over the Internet.

Article 10 of the WCT contains the so-called “three-step” approach for determining limitations and exceptions, as specified in Article 9(2) of the Berne Convention, and extends its application to all rights. Such limitations and exceptions, as established in national legislation in accordance with the Berne Convention, may be extended to the digital world, according to the Agreed Statement that accompanies the WCT. Contracting States may create additional exceptions and limitations that are more relevant to the digital world. If the conditions of the “three-step” test are met, current limitations and exceptions can be extended or new ones can be created.

In terms of time, any form of work must have a protection period of at least 50 years. There can be no formalities in the enjoyment and exercise of the Treaty’s rights.

The Treaty requires Contracting Parties to provide legal remedies for circumvention of technological measures (e.g., encryption) used by authors in the exercise of their rights, as well as the removal or alteration of information, such as certain data that identify works or their authors, that is necessary for the management (e.g., licencing, collecting, and distributing royalties) of their rights (“rights management information”).

The Treaty requires each Contracting Party to take the steps necessary to ensure the Treaty’s application, in conformity with its legal system. Each Contracting Party must, in particular, guarantee that enforcement measures are available under its law to allow effective action against any act of infringement of Treaty rights. Such action must include both immediate remedies to prevent infringement and long-term measures to deter future infringement.

The Treaty established an Assembly of Contracting Parties, whose primary purpose is to resolve issues related to the Treaty’s upkeep and development. It delegated the Treaty’s administrative functions to the WIPO Secretariat. The Treaty was signed in 1996 and became effective in 2002.

The Treaty is open to all WIPO members as well as the European Union. Other international organisations may be admitted to the Treaty by the Assembly established under the Treaty. Instruments of ratification or accession must be lodged with the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).


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