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"Copyright is the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (such as a literary, musical, or artistic work)"(Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2022). Copyright (Copyright Alliance, n.d.) does not require registration and one is automatically protected if the item they have created is eligible.


The duration of time where copyright is valid and in effect can vary across countries along with the terms and conditions. All countries have copyright laws that have a set duration starting from the creator/owner's death. However, anonymous works are done differently. Anonymous works are documented under copyright 2 ways and copyright expires when either one ends. In Canada, we use a "life-plus-fifty" system where when the author dies, the copyright expires at the end of the year 50 years from then (, 2021). Anonymous & pseudonymous works are protected for 50 years after first publication and 75 years after creation depending on what ends first. If an author is identified and well known, the one that died last or is still alive is used and applied to the "life-plus-fifty" rule (, 2021). For example, if the author dies on June 30th, 1978, the copyright on their work expires on December 31st, 2028. Many other countries share these but some countries such as the United States, European Union, and the UK have slightly different systems. International Copyright laws are affected by the TRIPS Treaty and the Berne Convention. For extra reference a map of world copyright durations can be looked at.

Copyight Registration[edit]

Most countries have automatic Copyright where copyright is automatically granted when “A work is created when it is “fixed” in a copy or phonorecord for the first time.” (U.S. Copyright Law, 1978). However, this copyright is not reliable and can't be used as proof in court or as evidence of ownership. In these cases, formal copyright registration is needed which can be obtained from the national copyright office of the country the work is created in. Registering a Copyright often costs a fee of around $50 CAD with additional charges depending on the type (Canadian Intellectual Property Office, n.d.). Reference to see steps to register a copyright in Canada.

International Copyright[edit]

Copyright can Vary drastically in many ways across countries. Mexico, for example, has a "life-plus-hundred" policy compared to the common plus 70 and plus 50s across the world. Also, many conditions in copyright can vary depending on copyright law in different countries. As such, 2 notable agreements have been created between over 90% of the countries in the world and all major countries that standardize not all, but at least some of the terms and conditions. Other than the treaties listed below, many more can be found here.

TRIPS Treaty[edit]

Created in cooperation with the WIPO and WTO, and having come into effect on January 1st, 1995 the TRIPS Agreement/TRIPS Treaty is a treaty signed by more countries than the Berne Convention and adds, creates, and implements more specific rules and information as opposed to the more general terms the Paris Convention & Berne Convention offer. It relates to Copyright and its many related fields.

Being a very complicated treaty due to its nature of being the 'terms and conditions' of sorts of Intellectual Property agreements, the TRIPS Treaty plays mostly 3 major roles.

1.Standards Being a guideline, the TRIPS treaty is responsible for setting down the rules and specifics not mentioned by the other conventions. Things such as the basic protections all members must respect, defining things that are to be protected, the rights of the protected contents and the party's right to using them, obligations of all parties, duration of protection, exceptions to rules and many more that are added and reviewed over multiple conferences.

2.Enforcement and Procedures The Trips treaty also outlines how copyright laws are to be enforced amongst party members and the procedures for both irregular and exempt cases. For example, the treaty would be responsible to giving a guideline as to what is supposed to be done when certain laws are in conflict or there is no clear solution for a criminal procedure.

3.Dispute Guidelines This part is simple as it simply means that disputes over parts of the agreement are to follow the standard procedure of the World Trade Organization.

Paris Convention/Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property[edit]

One of the first international conventions regarding Intellectual Property, the Paris Convention was adopted in 1883. As the complete name suggests, the Paris convention is regarding industrial property and allowed for more competition and less oppression from already developed companies. It has 178 COntracted parties as of April 4th, 2022 with the most recent being Kiribati having had it come into power on February 5th, 2022. Similar to other contracts, it can be summarized with 3 major points.

"(1) Under the provisions on national treatment, the Convention provides that, as regards the protection of industrial property, each Contracting State must grant the same protection to nationals of other Contracting States that it grants to its own nationals. Nationals of non-Contracting States are also entitled to national treatment under the Convention if they are domiciled or have a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in a Contracting State."(WIPO, n.d)

This simply means that if one has copyright in their country the other countries are to grant them the copyright of standard procedure in their country. As such a man with a copyright licence in China will also be protected by standard American Copyright law in the USA.

"(2) The Convention provides for the right of priority in the case of patents (and utility models where they exist), marks and industrial designs."(WIPO, n.d)

This allows for someone with a patent in one contracted country to, within a certain amount of time, apply for a patent in another country that is contracted and their patent will have a priority over others thus, Right of Priority.

"(3) The Convention lays down a few common rules that all Contracting States must follow."(WIPO, n.d)

This simply means that the convention lays down rules that must be followed regardless of context unless otherwise specified.

Berne Convention/Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works[edit]

First adopted in 1886, the Berne Convention, created by the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) protects the rights of Copyright owners internationally. Based on a neutral benefit agreement, the Berne Convention operates on 3 basic principles.

"(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")."(WIPO, n.d)

"(b) "Protection must not be conditional upon compliance with any formality (principle of "automatic" protection)."(WIPO, n.d)

"(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." (WIPO, n.d)

Simply put, Copyrighted work in one country must be given standard copyright of the other country. For example, a work created in Canada will naturally be subject to Canadian Copyright Law, however, this does not exempt Chile from respecting the work and when in chile the work is given all the regular copyright laws in Chile. The action of doing so is mandatory and is not to be conditional. Last but not least, if the copyright in one country expires before another country the other country (not the country the work is created in) has the right to deny protection of the work. Meaning if your work expires in Canada the other 20 years of protection in American Copyright can be voided. However, this doesn't go the other way around.

The Berne treaty has had many countries sign and agree to its terms and conditions totalling 181 parties as of April 4th, 2022. (WIPO, 2022) Many small countries are also getting involved, such as Uganda which will have the treaty officially in force on April 28th, 2022. A list of signed parties can be accessed here


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