We've talked over the last several months about the basic aspects of United States copyright law. I'd like to finish by talking a little about international copyright law.
The Berne Convention is the common name for the International Union for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Most developed countries are members of the Berne Convention, including the U.S. since 1989. Run by the Word International Property Organization, the Berne Convention attempts to unify the treatment of copyright in each country. Convention members must provide as strong protection to works originating in other member countries as they do to works from within the country.
The Berne Convention protects literary and artistic works. Protection is automatic with no required formalities, and lasts generally for a term of the life of the author plus fifty years. If a work of art originates in a member country, it is entitled to protection in all other member countries.
The Universal Copyright Convention is administered by the United Nations. It provides for less protection than the Berne Convention, but covers some different countries. It protects literary, scientific, and artistic works. There are some requirements, such as requiring that works be marked as copyright works.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty was ratified by the United States in 1998. It has become very important in applying copyright law to the Internet. This includes some important regulations and procedures regarding circumvention of technology used to protect intellectual property.
If you have any questions about copyright law, email us or post them on the blog. The email is JDellinger@mainspringlaw.com . We also have a free pamphlet discussing copyright law and how it effects small businesses and individuals.