Global Copyright: Navigating the Berne Convention

Sharon Givoni Consulting Copyright

Global Copyright: Navigating the Berne Convention

Have you ever poured your heart and soul into writing song lyrics, only to find them echoed in someone else’s music on social media? It’s a situation that can leave any artist feeling violated and wondering what solutions copyright law can provide. In this blog, we’ll explore how Australian copyright law works if you find yourself in this predicament.

Understanding Copyright in Song Lyrics

We often get asked by clients: “How Can You Protect Your Copyright Overseas?

The focus of this blog is on understanding and navigating the complexities of international copyright laws, particularly under the Berne Convention.

It highlights the importance of knowing whether a country is a member of the Convention, as this impacts the protection and enforcement of copyright.

The article lists both member and non-member countries and emphasises that the law of the country where infringement occurs is applicable. It offers practical steps for creators, such as registering works, monitoring usage, and acting swiftly in case of infringement. Don’t forget also that this blog does not replace advice and that the list of members of the Berne Convention can change anytime so you will need to check this.

Also, a reminder that copyright is a significant asset, lasting for the author’s life plus 70 years, and is worth protecting! Let’s start at the basics.

How Can You Protect Your Copyright Overseas?

In today’s interconnected world, where the internet blurs geographical boundaries, understanding how to protect your copyright overseas is more crucial than ever.

Whether you’re an artist, writer, musician, or creator of any kind, your work can easily cross borders.

But how do you ensure its protected globally?

International copyright protection

When considering international copyright protection, the first question to ask is: Is the country where the infringement occurred a member of the Berne Convention?

This international agreement provides a framework for recognising and enforcing copyright protection among “member countries”.

Berne Convention: The Global Standard

The Berne Convention simplifies international copyright protection by allowing authors to have their works protected in all member countries. This means that if you’re a citizen of or reside in a member country, your work is automatically protected in all other member countries.

Members vs. Non-Members

Member Countries
The list of Berne Convention members is extensive, including most nations worldwide. Some notable members include:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • India
  • Brazil

(For a complete list, visit the World Intellectual Property Organization’s website.)

Non-Member Countries

While most countries are part of the Berne Convention, a few are not. These include:

  • Iraq
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • East Timor

An essential aspect to remember is that the law applicable to a copyright infringement is the law of the country where the infringement occurred. This means that if you live in Australia, and your work is copied in another country, the laws of that country apply.

This can sometimes complicate matters, especially if the infringement occurs in a non-member country of the Berne Convention.

Navigating International Copyright Laws

Since the applicable law is that of the country where infringement occurs, it’s crucial to have a basic understanding of that country’s copyright laws. This can vary significantly from one nation to another, especially outside the Berne Convention.

Don’t try and tackle it yourself – it is best to get legal advice so that you get it right from the outset.

Seeking Legal Advice

While this guide provides a general overview, nothing replaces professional legal advice. Copyright laws can be intricate, and having an expert guide you through the process ensures that your rights are adequately protected from the start.

Practical Steps for Protecting Your Copyright

Register Your Work
While in Australia you cannot register copyright, this is something that you can to in the United States and this can give you additional legal leverage and ease the process of proving ownership in that Country.

Monitor Your Work
Keep an eye on where and how your work is being used. Online tools and services can help track your work’s presence on the internet.

Act Quickly in Case of Infringement
If you discover infringement, act quickly. The sooner you address the issue, the better your chances of resolving it favourably.

Conclusion: The Value of Copyright Protection

Remember, copyright protection is not just a legal formality – it’s about safeguarding your creative investment.

In our globalised world, understanding and utilising international copyright laws is more important than ever.

While the process can be complex, especially when dealing with infringements overseas, it’s a worthwhile Endeavor to ensure your creative works are protected globally.

Always consider seeking legal advice to navigate these waters effectively and protect your rights comprehensively.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and does not constitute legal advice. To address specific legal matters, consult a legal professional.