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What is the Berne Convention?
The territorial nature of copyright (see ‘Which Kind of Nature does the Copyright Protection have?’ section) has led to international attempts of harmonization in order to ensure some basic uniform copyright protection standards. Therefore, 176 countries have ratified the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, traditionally only known as the Berne Convention from the first signature in the Swiss city of Berne in 1886.
This Convention is really important because it is the first multilateral treaty on copyright law administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It establishes international minimum standards for the protection of the authors’ rights of copyrighted materials.
According to this Treaty, an author from any signatory country has the same rights in all the other countries which have signed the Convention. In other words, a country of the Berne Convention cannot discriminate when it comes to copyright protection between its own nationals and authors from other signatory countries (also known as the principle of ‘national treatment’). For example, UK authors can expect to go to Spain and receive the same copyright protection that is offered to Spanish authors and vice versa.
Individual national States can introduce additional protection over and above the terms of the Berne Convention (as example the UK).
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