The next major intellectual property (IP) treaty that I would like to discuss in this blog is the Berne Convention. The Berne Convention is actually a series of agreements relating to copyright law that were updated and revised approximately every 20 years after the original agreement was adopted in 1886. The Berne Convention has 176 contracting states.

The Berne Convention is based on two principles. First, the copyright rights for citizens of member countries should be equal in all of the member states, so that a copyright owner in one of the member states should be given the same ability to protect that copyright in another member state that would be given to a national of that other member state.

Second, copyright protection must be sui generis. This means that copyright protection arises automatically when an idea is fixed in a medium. A copyright owner does not need to apply a “copyright notice” to the work or to register the work in order to protect that right.

Of course, copyright owners might be entitled to additional rights if they take these steps. For example, a copyright owner must register its copyright to be entitled to enforce the copyright in the U.S. Additionally, registered copyright owners can seek statutory damages, enhanced damages and attorney’s fees in the U.S.

The Berne Convention also sets forth minimum standards for copyright protection. These minimum standards include eight basic rights:

  • The right to translate
  • The right to make adaptations and arrangements of the work
  • The right to perform the work
  • The right to recite literary works in public
  • The right to communicate to the public the performance of such works
  • The right to broadcast
  • The right to make reproductions in any manner or form
  • The right to use the work as a basis for an audiovisual work, and the right to reproduce, distribute, perform in public or communicate to the public that audiovisual work

The Berne Convention also provides artists with certain moral rights, provides for fair use and sets a minimum term for copyright protection. The U.S. enacted legislation to implement the Berne Convention in 1989.