History of the Berne convention

The convention came to existence through the provocation of Victor Hugo. It was hence influenced by the French-based right of the author which has some contrasting features with the Anglo-Saxon copyright concept which only focused on economic grievances. The history of the Berne convention is manifested by two major additions as well as five revisions such that the preamble has not changed throughout except for the last Paris conference in 1971 where revision was done, there was the addition of two paragraphs to signify the connection between the preceding revisions undertaken in 1967 in Stockholm. Its intention was to pay tribute to the benefits of the previous revision with respect to the substantive provisions as well as administrative clauses that were not changed during the Paris conference, as well as the preparatory efforts initiated during the Stockholm conference while seeking realistic solutions to issues facing developing nations.

America’s connection

In October of 1988, Ronald Reagan the then United States president signed the Berne convention implementation act giving room for legislation within the United States and adherence to the provisions of the convention within the US. The US had resisted ratifying the convention earlier since it was influenced by its importation of copyrighted materials. This would have forced publishers within the US who published foreign work to pay royalties for foreigners holding the specific copyrights leading to a significant loss of income to foreign nations. But then when the situation changed and the country began exporting copyrighted materials it became a loss of income when its authors were not assured of royalties from publishing houses in foreign countries.

As opposed to joining the Berne Convention, the US opted for different international treaties such as the Universal Copyright Convention which advocated for national treatment principle enabling authors in the US to obtain copyright protection in foreign countries similar to what those foreign countries accord its authors, and not necessarily requiring the US to do the same to authors of those countries. The United States earlier infringed on what was stipulated on the convention hence avoided its implementation, but when the tables turned and it was on the receiving end they had no alternative other than ratifying the Berne convention.

Where stipulations differ

  1. Berne convention prohibits its members from imposing any sort of formalities on copyright protection such that exercise and enjoyment of copyright cannot be subject to any formalities except for the origin nation, which is not the case for the Copyright Act.
  2. Berne convention provides minimum standards as a baseline which all countries must offer to foreign claimants a stipulation that does not exist under the Copyright Act.
  3. Berne convention provides the national treatment feature which underscores that authors must enjoy similar protection for their intellectual works in other countries the same way as those nations accord their authors a feature that does not also exist within the Copyright Act.
  4. Berne Convention is diverse and is applicable across all member countries while the Copyright Act is only applicable within the United States.
  5. Berne Convention ensures that publishers pay royalty fees to owners of copyright material while the Copyright Act does not give such provisions.
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