Glossary created by Berkman Center team
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Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
The Berne Convention is an international copyright agreement that was first adopted and implemented in 1886. Its intent was to harmonize copyright law across national borders. There are currently 164 member countries.
According to Wikipedia, “The Berne Convention was revised in Paris in 1896 and in Berlin in 1908, completed in Berne in 1914, revised in Rome in 1928, in Brussels in 1948, in Stockholm in 1967 and in Paris in 1971, and was amended in 1979. The UK signed in 1887 but did not implement large parts of it until 100 years later with the passage of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988.”
The Berne Convention is currently active, and is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”).
While the convention grants authors an array of rights, the most important aspect of the Berne Convention is that countries must grant an author that is a citizen of another member country the same protections it offers its own citizens, in addition to any rights that the convention itself grants. That is to say, a French citizen’s work in Poland or Morocco automatically enjoys the same protections that the work of a Polish or Moroccan citizen would.
A bilateral agreement is an agreement or treaty made directly between two countries.
This is in contrast to a “multilateral” agreement or international agreement such as the Berne Convention or TRIPS. While some bilateral agreements deal exclusively with copyright, copyright provisions may be inserted in to other, larger treaties, such as peace treaties or economic treaties.
In a bilateral agreement, an author from one country can claim copyright protections in the other country. Such agreements are often used to create copyright protections or provisions that are more stringent, or more generous, than would be possible in a broadly multinational agreement.
A Berne Convention member country may enter into bilateral agreements as long as the provisions of those agreements meet the minimum standards of the Berne Convention. For instance, although it is a member of the Berne Convention, the TRIPS Agreement, and other multilateral agreements, the United States has bilateral agreements with many different countries.