Various treaties and conventions related to Copyrights

Indian Copyright Law evolution based on different Significant Treaties and Convention related to Copyright

There are many treaties and conventions associated with Copyright law.  Some of the treaties to which India has been a signatory are:

Berne Convention:

This convention sanctioned by an international conference at Berne in the year 1886 but was later modified several numbers of times. Some of its salient features are:-

It delivered protection for published works (works published in countries which are a part of the Berne Union) and unpublished works whose authors are residents of other countries. Each country which is a part of the Bern Union provides an assurance to authors (who are residents of other member countries) the rights that its own laws grant to its residents.

The works preserved by the Rome revision of 1928 consists of every development in the literary, scientific, and artistic domain, despite the mode of expression, such as books, pamphlets; lectures, addresses, sermons, and other works of the same nature; dramatic or dramatic-musical works, choreographic works and entertainments in dumb show; musical compositions; drawings, paintings, works of architecture, sculpture, engraving, and lithography; illustrations, geographical charts, plans, sketches, and plastic work related to geography, topography, architecture, or science and many more.

It also consists of various translations, adaptations, music arrangements, and other reproductions in a modified form of a literary or artistic work, as well as collections of different works. The Brussels revision of 1948 added the cinematographic work and photographic work.

The term of a copyright for most of the works in the Rome revision was for 50 years after the life of the author, but it was later acknowledged that some countries might have a shorter term. The Rome revision and the Brussels revision preserved the right of making translations. On the other hand, the Stockholm Protocol and the Paris revision liberalized the translation rights to an extent in a compromise between developing and developed countries.

Universal Copyright Convention:

The Universal Copyright Convention accepted in Geneva with facilitation from UNESCO and came into force in the year 1955.  Some of its salient features are:-

None of the signatory nations of the Convention should give its domestic author’s more favorable copyright treatment than the authors of other signatory nations, however, no minimum security provided to either domestic or foreign authors.

A formal copyright notice is included in all copies of a work and consist of the symbol ‘©’, copyright owner’s name, and first publication year; a signatory nation, though, it might need further formalities, provided such formalities do not favour domestic works over foreign works.

The minimum term for copyright protection in member nations is the life of author plus 25 years (except for photographic works and works of applied art, which have 10-year term).

All member nations to present an exclusive right of translation for seven-years, subject to compulsory license under certain conditions for balancing the term of copyright.


Features included in the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights with respect to Copyright Laws are:

It subsumes actual obligations of the Berne Convention (1971) than the provisions on the moral rights of the authors (i.e., right of acknowledgment as the author and right of the author) which was to object the amendments in a copyrighted work.

The protection provided by the copyright is only available for expression, and not for concepts like ideas, procedure, a method of operation, or mathematical concepts.

The TRIPS Agreement in its articles 3 and 4 describes broad exceptions to national treatment and most favored nation obligations on copyrights and other rights. It includes the exceptions of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1971) and the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (“Rome Convention”). In contrast to this, the intellectual property chapter of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provides a stronger national treatment provision on copyrights and sound recordings.

The right to bar rental of computer programs, sound recording and cinematographic work be permitted to the authors and their descendants in interest by the members. However, an exemption permitted if no widespread copying of cinematographic works has occurred in a Member because of rentals.

The copyrighted works originating in a WTO or any Berne member country are automatically protected in all other member countries of the Berne Convention without any formalities (i.e., copyright registration and copyright notices are not needed).

Under the Berne Convention, the computer programs (either in object code or source code) kept as literary works.

It provides protection to performers, producers of phonograms (sound recordings) and broadcasting organizations; fifty-year minimum term of protection to performers and producers of sound recordings; twenty-year minimum term of protection for broadcasting organizations.

Article 18 (restoration of copyright protection) in the Berne Convention was extended for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1971) to the rights of performers and producers of sound recordings.

Though India is not a member of the Rome Convention of 1961, it follows the WIPO Copyrights Treaty and the WIPO Performers and Phonograms Treaty.

The above-mentioned treaties describe the copyright conventions for all its signatory countries including India.  However, the pattern followed for registering a copyright in India is a step by step process. Given below is a procedure for registering of copyrights in India.

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