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Copyright protection under the Berne Convention

An author or other person in California who produces a copyrightable work understandably wants protection for his or her creative endeavor. The World Intellectual Property Organization reports that the good news is, thanks to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, copyright protection received in the United States may extend around the world.

There are more than 150 countries that have become Contracting States, and in each of these, the creator of the work has the same protection that he or she has in the United States. 

Regardless of the number of protections that each of the Contracting States provides to its own citizens, the Berne Convention ensures that creators of works have these exclusive rights, at minimum:

  • To translate the work
  • To copy, adapt or create alternate arrangements of the work
  • To perform plays, musicals and musical works in public
  • To recite works of a literary nature in public
  • To inform the public of a work's performance
  • To broadcast the work 

The creator has the rights to the audiovisual production of the work, as well. Only the creator of the work has the legal right to claim its authorship.

Copyrightable works protected under the Berne Convention include artistic, scientific and literary productions. The mode or form the work takes is not relevant to the level of protection. However, computer programs and databases have special protection under an additional agreement within the Berne Convention, the WIPO Copyright Treaty. This agreement was added to the BC in 1996 and has around 100 Contracting Parties.

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