If you deal with global copyright issues (for example, by using online content), this Q&A provides clear answers to some commonly asked international copyright questions.
As always, please do not rely on our short practical answers as legal advice or opinions. Contact an attorney should you require legal advice or opinion on international copyright issues.
I live in Canada, where the duration of copyright is life-plus-fifty rather than life-plus-seventy (as in the U.S. and E.U. countries). For what duration do I need to obtain permission for works being posted on my website?
Since works on a website are accessible from around the world, it’s best to clear permission for life-plus-seventy years for all works. If your readers are accessing any of the works only in Canada, permission is only necessary for life-plus-50 (even for U.S. or E.U. works). However, if those same works are accessed from the U.S., E.U. or other countris with a life-plus-70 duration, then permission for life-plus-seventy is necessary.
What’s the leading international copyright treaty?
What’s the role of the WIPO treaties on copyright law and how do they govern copyright in each country?
WIPO administers a number of copyright treaties; however, these treaties don’t govern the copyright law in any country. Rather, the countries that adhere to the treaties must include the WIPO minimum standard of copyright protection in their own copyright legislation. For instance, the Berne Convention specifies 50 years after an author’s death as the minimum duration of copyright protection. Each Berne member country must protect copyright works for at least life-plus-fifty years, but may do so for longer, as does the U.S., which has a copyright duration of life-plus-seventy years.
Do I need to register copyright in each country where I want to claim copyright protection?
No. If a work is protected by copyright in your own country (assuming your country is a signatory to the Berne Convention), then the work is protected in all Berne Convention countries. No additional steps, including registration, or using the international copyright symbol, are necessary to obtain protection. Note thatthe Berne Convention prohibits mandatory copyright registration with a national copyright office in member countries.
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