Copyright—the international system and enforcement

The following IP practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Copyright—the international system and enforcement
  • An international system of copyright enforcement
  • Legal basis
  • The conventions
  • Signatories
  • Cross-border enforcement—bird’s eye view
  • Practical steps for copyright owners
  • No formalities required
  • Term of protection
  • Where to sue
  • More...

Copyright—the international system and enforcement

This Practice Note provides a broad overview of how copyright can be enforced cross-border.

An international system of copyright enforcement

Copyright is a territorial IP right in that it protects a work in one territory only. As far back as the 1800s, this was recognised as a problem for copyright owners. At that time, it was becoming easier for a copyright work to be copied in a foreign country but there was nothing that the copyright owner could do about it as their copyright was recognised only in their home country and had no validity in any foreign state. There were calls for an international system of copyright to be developed.

An international system of copyright enforcement exists established by four conventions.

At the heart of the system is the principle of national treatment. This means that a copyright owner will be treated as if they are a national of the territory in which the infringement is taking place and can claim the protection of copyright laws there.

Copyright owners wanting to use this international system must be prepared to sue in a foreign jurisdiction with the added difficulties and costs that may be involved.

Legal basis

The international system of copyright is established by four copyright conventions. The detailed history of these conventions is beyond the scope of this Practice Note. Negotiations originally began in the

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