Berne Convention

Refers to the Berne Convention [Treaty] for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works of September 9, 1886, which has been repeatedly revised, most recently in 1979. It is the primary international agreement protecting copyright around the world and sets a common basis for protection and also provides that a work of authorship in any subscribing state immediately creates “copyright” in all other subscribing states.

In principle, Berne rights are only mandated in each signatory jurisdiction for citizens of other states, but in practice Berne members do not discriminate against their own artists, authors and software writers; most major economies are now members of the Berne Convention. Significant subsidiary agreements to “Berne” are found in the WIPO Copyright Treaty. The amendments have typically extended the rights of copyright holders, since limiting existing property rights is almost unheard of and is likely unconstitutional in many members of the convention.

In the US rights mandated by the Berne Convention are referred to as Berne Rights, but copyright registration can convey additional rights not mandatory under the Convention, such as statutory damages and attorney’s fees, known in the US as Non-Berne Rights.

Related Terms