May 25, 2020  
 
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Global Intellectual Property

 

International Copyrights

Filing a copyright registration in the U.S. is a no-brainer for your company's high value original work. But do you also need to secure international copyrights for your work?

Your business can't afford to sacrifice its rights to original content and works that have inherent value or are integral to your business model.

www.copyright.govWithout proper protection, proprietary works can be vulnerable to exploitation by the competition. In other cases, your works can lose their revenue-generating capacity when they are legally accessible in the public domain.

Copyright laws grant exclusive rights to original works. In the U.S., copyright laws are covered under the Copyright Act of 1976 and are overseen by the U.S. Copyright Office. By filing a copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office, copyright holders secure legal standing to the ownership of their copyright within the U.S.

But what about copyright ownership outside of the U.S.? Unfortunately, a registered U.S. copyright may or may not ensure legal ownership rights to your content beyond U.S. borders. International copyrighting is a sophisticated area of copyright law, but it's an area you will need to navigate if you are concerned about maintaining the exclusive rights to your material around the world.

One of the major hurdles in overseas copyrighting is that there is no such thing as an international copyright. Copyright laws vary from one legal jurisdiction to the next. So although your copyright is secure in this country, it may not be secure in the jurisdiction of other countries throughout the world.

Foreign Treaties & Protections

Recognizing the complexities and complications involved with international copyrighting, many countries have entered into treaties and other agreements designed to provide international copyright protection. The Berne Convention, the Universal Copyright Convention, and the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty are just a few of the international agreements that may help protect your U.S. copyright overseas.

However, copyright protection under international treaties is far from universal. Many countries limit their participation in international copyright agreements and others don't participate in them at all. The Copyright Office website (www.copyright.gov) provides an updated list of the countries that currently participate in specific treaties and conventions.

If it's not covered by a treaty, your copyright may be protected by a foreign nation's domestic copyright laws. In all cases, due diligence and experienced legal counsel are essential when it comes to protecting your copyright outside of the U.S.

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Want to learn more about this topic? If so, you will enjoy these articles:

International Trademarks & the Madrid System
WTO & GATT
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)


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