Berne Convention

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The uncertainty and confusion that generated the lack of a unified framework for the protection of copyright led 10 European States in 1886 to sign the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention). Among the first members of the convention were the primary colonial powers of that time. As a result, the Berne Convention immediately extended to a significant part of the world.

After its conclusion in 1886, the Berne Convention was revised at Paris in 1896 and at Berlin in 1908, completed at Berne in 1914, revised at Rome in 1928, at Brussels in 1948, at Stockholm in 1967 and at Paris in 1971, and was amended in 1979.

The Berne Convention set up a bureau to handle administrative tasks. In 1893, it became the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property (best known by its French acronym BIRPI), situated in Berne. In 1960, BIRPI moved to Geneva, to be closer to the United Nations and other international organizations in that city. In 1967, it became the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and in 1974 became an organization within the United Nations.

Although only 10 countries signed the Berne Convention in 1886, today 164 countries are members of the Berne Convention. The Convention is open to all States, which means that accession occurs by the direct participation of the new member state in the treaty, without any modification of the original agreement. You can check if your country is a member of the Berne Convention on the World Intellectual Property Organization site.

As described below, the content of the Berne Convention was heavily shaped by the civil-law version of copyright law. For example, the protection of non-economic moral rights of authors as well as the lack of a general requirement for registration of copyright works were rules that contrasted with the Anglo-Saxon concept of "copyright". For these reasons, among others, the U.S.A. did not join the Berne Convention for over 100 years.

The Convention requires that copyright protection be extended to “every production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain, whatever may be the mode or form of its expression” (Article 2(1)).