Examination of the UCC

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The Universal Copyright Convention (or UCC), was developed by UNESCO and was adopted at Geneva in 1952, as an alternative to the Berne Convention. The UCC was revised in Paris in 1971.

For a list of the countries members of the UCC see: http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/files/7816/11642786761conv_71_e.pdf/conv_71_e.pdf

As we already mentioned, the protection of moral rights and the lack of administrative formalities for the protection of works under the Berne Convention deterred the United States, as well as countries with similar legislation, to accept the Berne Convention. Furthermore, the USSR and many developing countries thought that the strong copyright protections granted by the Berne Convention overly benefited Western developed copyright-exporting nations. Thus, the UCC was established in order to satisfy the need of those countries to participate in some form of multilateral copyright protection without joining the Berne Convention.

To succeed in its goal, the UCC included sufficiently flexible legal norms for the protection of authors, which were open to accommodate states at different stages of development, or states belonging to different economic and social systems. As a result, “its protective norms are expressed in the form of general principles which can be given different shades of interpretation depending on the specific identity of each state”(1). To allow the accession of the Soviet Union, the UCC provided that works should be protected for 25 years. It also incorporated the principles of national treatment and prohibited any discrimination against foreign authors, so that the works of citizens of each member state would receive in the other contracting countries the same protection as the nationals of those countries.

In order to protect their copyrights in more countries, the Berne Convention States also acceded to the UCC. In an effort to deter the Berne Convention parties from renouncing that convention in order to adopt the UCC, the UCC included a clause stating that parties which were also Berne Convention parties need not apply the provisions of the Convention to any former Berne Convention state which renounced the Berne Convention after 1951.

Today, the importance of the UCC is minimal because most countries have acceded to the Berne Convention, and almost all states in the world are either members or aspiring members of the World Trade Organization, and thus are (or will soon be) bound by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

(1) Andre Kareve, UNESCO Courier, Universal Copyright Convention, available at: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1310/is_/ai_10940863