The 1886 Berne Convention was the most influential copyright related treaty for over a century, and provided important minimum substantive protections for authors. Key provisions included the establishment of the principle of National Treatment, the abolishment of formalities in order to receive copyright protection, a required copyright term of life of the author plus fifty years, and most offensive to the U.S. copyright system, the mandate that signatories provide authors non-economic moral rights. Despite the international importance and widespread acceptance of the Berne Convention, the U.S. did not join the Convention for over one hundred years, making it one of the last developed countries in the world to do so. Although the U.S. finally signed onto Berne and passed the Berne Convention Implementation Act in 1988, it was universally known that the U.S.’ implementing legislation was a minimalist approach to ratifying the treaty. Due to this watered down approach, Berne has played both a practical, and merely rhetorical, role in shaping the U.S.’ copyright system as it stands today. This note will explore the Berne Convention’s rhetorical role in shaping the U.S. copyright system’s treatment of moral rights, and the Convention’s practical role in shaping the treatment of copyright term in the U.S.
The Effect of the 1886 Berne Convention on the U.S. Copyright System's Treatment of Moral Rights and Copyright Term, and Where That Leaves Us Today,
Mich. Telecomm. & Tech. L. Rev.
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