Introduction

The most important legal reference to copyright is contained in article 27.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. This establishes:

Every person has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests that correspond to him by reason of the scientific, literary or artistic productions of which he is the author.

However, the principles on which international copyright protection is based are much older. These were first established in the Berne Convention of 1886, which still forms the cornerstone of a comprehensive framework of international law today.

Universal Copyright Convention

Under the auspices of UNESCO, this convention was created to establish a system of copyright protection for all nations of the world, capable of guaranteeing respect for the rights of the individual and promoting the development of literature, science and the arts.

Its best known result is the famous symbol ©, which means that a work is protected in its country and therefore in all countries that have signed the Copyright Convention. In addition, this convention establishes the rules for effective and adequate protection of copyright, such as the basic rights that guarantee the economic interests of authors and the conditions of protection.

The full text of the convention is available on the UNESCO website in three languages.

The Bern Convention

The basic principles that govern copyright protection at the international level were established in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Currently signed by 163 countries, the Berne Convention establishes standards such as the "national treatment" standard which means that, in all countries, foreign authors benefit from the same rights as national authors.

Rome Convention

The Rome Convention extended copyright protection to neighboring rights: performers enjoy rights to their performances, phonogram producers to their recordings, and radio and television organizations to their programmes.

The protection provided by this convention varies depending on whether it is provided to performers or producers of phonograms and broadcasting organizations. For the former, protection includes the possibility of preventing certain uses of their performances without their prior consent and subject to certain conditions, while the latter benefit from the exclusive right to authorize or prohibit.

The Beijing Treaty

The Rome Convention extended copyright protection to neighboring rights: performers enjoy rights to their performances, phonogram producers to their recordings, and radio and television organizations to their programmers.

The protection provided by this convention varies depending on whether it is provided to performers or producers of phonograms and broadcasting organizations. For the former, protection includes the possibility of preventing certain uses of their performances without their prior consent and subject to certain conditions, while the latter benefit from the exclusive right to authorize or prohibit.

TRIPS Agreement

In order to harmonize international trade hand in hand with adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights, the agreement on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights was created to guarantee standards and adequate principles regarding the availability, extent and use of trade-related intellectual property rights. The agreement also establishes the means to enforce such rights.

You can consult a summary of the TRIPS agreements on the website of the World Trade Organization.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty (WCT)

The WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) were developed in 1996 in order to adapt the protection of authors' rights to the challenges posed by the emergence of the digital world.

The WCT, intended to usher copyright law into the digital age, entered into force on March 6, 2002. The WPPT, relating to performances and phonograms, entered into force on May 20, 2002.