Landman Library

International Copyright

What copyright protection looks like across borders



There is no such thing as international copyright law, given that there is no such thing as an international legislative body to establish it.

There are such things as international copyright treaties that apply to the countries that sign them. WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) is at the center of numerous of them.


The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

One of the most important of these treaties is the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (“Berne”). The U.S. is one of 168 national signatories (members) of Berne, representing the majority of the developed world.

Here are the three main principles of Berne.

  1. In the US, copyright holders of any other member nation have the same copyrights as American copyright holders (“national treatment”). In other words, for example, an author of a work on a foreign website accessed in the U.S. has the same copyright privileges as an author of an American website.
  2. This protection exists regardless of whether or not the country of national origin has its own copyright law.
  3. This protection is automatic, requiring no further action from the copyright holder. So, just like in the US, no registration of the copyright is necessary and no use of a copyright symbol is necessary to activate the protection.

Read more  Summary of the Berne Convention