Primer on International Copyright and Related Rights

Primer on International Copyright and Related Rights

Jørgen Blomqvist

The international law on copyright and related rights is comprehensive and complex, spanning over a large number of different treaties which have been compiled and amended over more than 125 years. This book gives a concise, but comprehensive introduction to the rules and their rationales. Its rights-oriented approach makes it equally valuable to the student and the practitioner who needs both an introduction to and overview over the international law in the field. The book explains all treaties relevant today, from the 1886 Berne Convention to the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty of 2013.

Chapter 2: An historical overview of the instruments

Jørgen Blomqvist

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law


The origin of international copyright and related rights protection can be found in bilateral agreements, rather than the multilateral instruments which are predominant today. Beginning in the 1820s and 1830s a system of mutual protection through bilateral treaties was established within the German Confederation, as it was then. This inspired bilateral treaties between countries of different languages, beginning with the Treaty of 22 May 1840 between Austria and Sardinia, countries which at the time both had important interests in the Italian speaking part of Europe. The treaty was open for accession by other Italian language countries. The idea caught on and between 1840 and 1886 altogether 84 bilateral treaties entered into force or were renewed in Europe, an impressive number which to a high degree was made up of the many individual treaties with and among each of the individual states of Germany; only after 1868 could these be converted into a single treaty with the North German Federation and later the German Empire, or replaced by national law. So eventually the number dropped somewhat. In 1886 when the first multilateral convention on copyright was adopted, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (the Berne Convention), 33 bilateral treaties were in force. The Berne Convention was prepared at three international conferences which took place in Berne, Switzerland, at the invitation of the Government of the Swiss Confederation, but based on an initiative taken by the International Literary Association, the chairman of which was Victor Hugo.

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