International Copyright: Principles, Law, and Practice

By Paul Goldstein | Go to book overview

§ 1
THE LEGAL TRADITIONS

Copyright and author's right are the two great legal traditions for protecting literary and artistic works. The copyright tradition is associated with the common law world—England, where the tradition began, the former British colonies, and the countries of the British Commonwealth. The tradition of author's right is rooted in the civil law system and prevails in the countries of the European continent and their former colonies in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.1

In concept, the traditions of copyright and author's right rest on sharply differing premises. Copyright's philosophical premise is utilitarian: the purpose of copyright is to stimulate production of the widest possible variety of creative goods at the lowest possible price.2 The ideal copyright legislator will test every proposal to extend copyright against the criterion of utility and will vote for the proposed extension only if it is demonstrably necessary to stimulate the creation of new works. By contrast, author's right is rooted in

____________________
1
The socialist approach to copyright that prevailed in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries following World War II was not so much a tradition, providing a rationale for protecting literary and artistic works, as it was a vehicle for regulating copyright contracts and the organs of publication. Post-socialist copyright law in Central and Eastern European countries has, not surprisingly, followed the pattern of legislation in Western Europe. See generally Adolf Dietz, Trends in the Development of Copyright Law in the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe, 162 R. I. D. A. 120 (1994). See also György Boytha, The Berne Convention and the Socialist Countries with Particular Reference to Hungary, 11 Colum.-VLA J. L. & Arts 57 (1986); Ernest K. Pakuscher, Recent Trends of the German Copyright Law, 23 Bull. Copr. Soc'y 65 (1973); Serge L. Levitsky, Introduction to Soviet Copyright Law (1964).

On subsequent copyright developments in Eastern Europe, see generally Eric J. Schwartz, Recent Developments in the Copyright Regimes of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, 38 J. Copr. Soc'y 123 (1991).

2
See § 1.1, below.

-3-

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