Chapter 23: Application in time
The Berne Convention contains in its Article 18 transitory provisions which apply both when a country of the Union joins the Paris Act and when a non-Union country first joins the Convention. It also applies to prolongations of the term of protection and to the situation where countries of the Union abandon earlier reservations (paragraph (4)). Here it is important to clarify that the Convention is fully in accordance with the well-established general principle that an act, which was legal at the time when it was committed, may not be made illegal by means of subsequent legislation. Article 18 presupposes the existence and validity of this ex post facto principle, however, without explicitly stating it. It has later been included in Article 19(3) of the BTAP which has the following wording: 'The protection provided for in this Treaty shall be without prejudice to any acts committed, agreements concluded or rights acquired before the entry into force of this Treaty for each Contracting Party'. This provision expresses only what has always been considered to be the case and should not in any way be seen as signalling a new rule, which would not be applicable to the Berne Convention or other international instruments in the field. Accordingly Article 18 of the Berne Convention by no means establishes a 'retroactive' protection, even if that word from time to time is used when it is discussed.
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