Berne Convention Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Berne Convention, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Berne Convention?

“An international treaty focusing on copyrights which was signed at Berne, Switzerland in 1886 and to which now subscribe 77 nations including all major trading countries excluding Russia.

History and Meaning of Berne Convention

The Berne Convention is an international treaty that addresses copyrights. It was initially signed in Berne, Switzerland, in 1886 and has since undergone several revisions. The primary aim of the treaty is to ensure that the copyright laws of one nation recognize the copyrights of citizens of other countries that are signatories to the agreement.

The treaty established that copyright protection automatically exists for creative works, such as music, literature, and art, without the need for registration or other formalities. This protection applies to works created by citizens of signatory countries, and to works first published in signatory countries, regardless of the nationality of the author.

Examples of Berne Convention

  1. A British author publishes a new novel in the UK. The book is protected by copyright under the Berne Convention in the UK as well as in all other countries that are signatories to the treaty.

  2. A Canadian artist creates a painting that becomes popular in the United States. The artist automatically obtains copyright protections under the Berne Convention, and the painting cannot be replicated or distributed in the US without the artist's permission.

  3. A German composer licenses her music to be used in a film produced in Japan. She is protected under the Berne Convention and can assert her copyright on her music, no matter where the film is shown.

Legal Terms Similar to Berne Convention

  1. WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT): An international treaty focused on copyright issues that was signed in 1996.

  2. Universal Copyright Convention (UCC): An international treaty focused on copyright issues that was signed in Rome in 1952.

  3. Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (PCPIP): An international treaty that addresses industrial property, which was signed in Paris in 1883.