This book surveys the law of copyright between and among nations. Apart from applicable legal rules, the book describes the practices that animate international copyright and the principles that underlie it. The practicing lawyer engaged in licensing or litigating a copyrighted work abroad, or overseeing the exploitation of a foreign work in his own country, will find guidance in these pages; so too will the researcher or student who wants to understand the forces that shape the copyright and neighboring rights laws of other countries and that control their interplay in the international system.
National laws on copyright and neighboring rights are far more similar than they are different, a fact that makes it possible to treat the laws of many countries in a single volume. Widespread adherence to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works explains much of this harmony—140 countries today belong to the Berne Union—and the convergence of national law promises to grow closer still, as the TRIPs Agreement, with 135 adherents, brings national laws into more immediate compliance with Berne norms as well as with norms introduced by the TRIPs Agreement itself. For those cases where national laws diverge, the book closely analyzes the rules of private international law to guide determinations of applicable law.
Because of the connection it connotes between one legal culture and another, no attribute of a legal rule or principle is more satisfying than universality. A handful of universal principles underpin national copyright laws. One is the axiom that copyright law will protect only original expression, leaving ideas—the building blocks of creativity—free for all to use. Legislation or case law in every country holds that a literary work's themes, plots, and stock characters are unprotectible, as are discrete colors and shapes in visual art, and rhythm, notes and harmony in music. Every national law recognizes that to give one author a monopoly over such fundamental creative