Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

The Berne Convention on Copyrights rests on three basic principles and contains provisions for the minimum standards of protection.

The three basic principles are as follows:

  • National treatment: Works originating in one of the contracting States (works of the author who is a national of such a State or works which were 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.
  • Automatic protection: Such protection must not be conditional upon compliance with any formality.
  • Independence of protection: Such protection is independent of the existence of protection in the country of origin of the work.

The minimum standards of protection relate to the works and rights to be protected, and the duration of the protection:

  • Works: the protection must include “every production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain, whatever may be the mode or form of its expression”.
  • Exclusive rights recognized (subject to certain limitations/exceptions):
    • the right to translate,
    • the right to make adaptations and arrangements of the work,
    • the right to perform in public dramatic, dramatico-musical and musical works,
    • the right to recite in public literary works,
    • the right to communicate to the public the performance of such works,
    • the right to broadcast,
    • the right to make reproductions in any manner or form,
    • the right to use the work as a basis for an audiovisual work, and the right to reproduce, distribute, perform in public or communicate to the public that audiovisual work.

The Convention also provides for “moral rights,” - the right to claim authorship of the work and the right to object to any mutilation or deformation or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to, the work which would be prejudicial to the author’s honor or reputation.

  • Duration of protection: the general rule is that protection must be granted until the expiration of the 50th year after the author’s death. In case of anonymous or pseudonymous works, the term of protection expires 50 years after the work has been lawfully made available to the public. In the case of works of applied art and photographic works, the minimum term is 25 years from the creation of such a work.


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