Chapter 14: The rights of distribution, importation, rental and lending
In modern international terminology the right of distribution is most commonly understood as covering the dissemination of protected subject matter which is caused by the change of ownership of a copy, whether an original or the result of an act of reproduction, which takes place in connection with a sale or other transfer of ownership. Contrary to the national terminology in some countries, it does not cover rental and lending. It might, however, be useful to discuss those rights together as they all relate to the dissemination of protected subject matter by dealings with the copies in which they are embedded. In a sense the minimum protection of literary and artistic works under the Berne Convention has included certain rights linked to the dissemination of copies since the 1886 Berne Act. Granting national protection makes no sense unless it covers unauthorized importation of copies that have been produced abroad without authorization. A provision to this effect was included in Article 12 of the Berne Act, according to which '[i]nfringing copies of a work shall be liable to seizure on importation into any country of the Union where the work enjoys legal protection'. This provision remains in Article 16 of the Convention, absent the words 'on importation', together with a similar provision in Article 13(3) regarding imported copies of phonograms produced abroad under a non-voluntary license.
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