Berne Convention Law and Legal Definition

Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works is an international copyright treaty. The Convention was administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization. It was first signed at Berne, Switzerland on September 9, 1886. The Berne Convention was completed at Paris on May 4, 1986, revised at Berlin on November 13, 1908, completed at Berne on March 20, 1914, revised at Rome on June 2, 1928, revised at Brussels on June 26, 1948, revised at Stockholm on July 14, 1967, and at Paris on July 24, 1971, and amended on September 28, 1979. Signatories of the Convention constitute the Berne Copyright Union. On March 1, 1989, the United States agreed to the Paris text of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Article 6bis of the Berne Convention requires countries to provide protection of the moral rights of paternity and integrity.

An author need not register or apply for a copyright in countries which signed the Convention. The work created by a citizen of one signatory nation will be protected in other signatory nations, without any local formalities. An author is automatically entitled to all copyrights in the work and to any other derivative works, until the copyright tenure expires or unless and until the author explicitly disclaims the copyright. The Convention was ratified in 1989 and it modified several aspects of U.S. copyright law to comply with the treaty’s terms. There are 163 countries that are members of the Berne Convention.

The Rome revision of 1928 includes every literary, scientific and artistic production, regardless of the mode of expression. In addition, translations, adaptations, arrangements of music, and other reproductions in altered form of a literary or artistic work and collections of different works are also included in the Rome revision. The Brussels revision of 1948 included cinematographic and photographic works. However, both the Brussels and the Rome revisions protected artistic works applied to industrial purposes also. The term of copyright in the Rome revision was life of the author plus fifty years, but some countries had a shorter term.