There are some international treaties that encourage the protection of copyright from country to country. They establish the standards of protection which each country then implements within the scope of its own copyright legislation.
The leading copyright convention is the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works ("Berne Convention"). The Berne Convention governs the protection of works and the rights of their owners. It is based on three basic principles and consists of provisions identifying the minimum protection to be granted and special provisions available to developing countries that want to use them as well. The three basic principles are the following: (a) Works originating in one of the Contracting States (that is, works the author of which is a national of such a State or works first published in such a State) must be given the same protection in each of the other Contracting States as the latter grants to the works of its own nationals (principle of "national treatment"); (b) Protection must not be conditional upon compliance with any formality (principle of "automatic" protection); (c) Protection is independent of the existence of protection in the country of origin of the work (principle of "independence" of protection). If, however, a Contracting State provides for a longer term of protection than the minimum prescribed by the Convention and the work ceases to be protected in the country of origin, protection may be denied once protection in the country of origin ceases. In terms of the minimum standards of protection, protection must include "every production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain, whatever the mode or form of its expression" (Article 2(1) of the Convention).
Another international treaty about copyright law is WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT). The WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) is a special agreement under the Berne Convention that deals with the protection of works and the rights of their authors in the digital environment. Any Contracting Party (even if it is not bound by the Berne Convention) must comply with the substantive provisions of the 1971 (Paris) Act of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886). Furthermore, the WCT mentions two subject matters to be protected by copyright: (i) computer programs, whatever the mode or form of their expression; and (ii) compilations of data or other material ("databases"), in any form, which, by reason of the selection or arrangement of their contents, constitute intellectual creations. (Where a database does not constitute such a creation, it is outside the scope of this Treaty.)
In Europe, efforts are also made to harmonize copyright law, and this resulted in a number of regulations, including the 2001 Directive on Copyright in the Information Society. There are two main objectives within the Directive, namely, reflecting technological developments in copyright law in Europe and transposing into European law the provisions included in the two WIPO treaties of 1996.