How International Copyright works

Copyright - the International Dimension

The purpose of copyright law is to provide a commercial framework to encourage creators to create, and to ensure that artistic, intellectual or other works of value are fairly rewarded.

While each country has its own laws in relation to copyright, there is a great degree of commonality, due to the fact that nearly every country in the world (including the United States & Europe) is a signatory to certain international treaties.  This means that copyright in one signatory country is recognised in all the other countries, and also that the fundamental concepts of copyright are the same in the legal systems of all of these countries.

Common Principles

  1. Copyright covers a wide range of creations, including literary works, computer programs, dramatic works, artistic works, music, sound recordings and so on.
  2. Originality is required, i.e. the work derives from the labour of the author.  There is however, no test of imaginativeness or inventiveness.  Certain exceptions exist; laws and official decisions or mere news of the day are generally excluded.
  3. Copyright exists in something from the moment it is recorded in any fixed form.  The form may differ, for instance it could be written down, recorded to tape, or recorded digitally on a computer.
  4. In general, by default the first owner of copyright is the person or persons who created the original work, although in some countries work created in the course of employment belongs to the employer.
  5. In case of dispute, it is the person who recorded the work in question in a fixed form first who qualifies, regardless of who published first, or indeed who registered the copyright.
  6. It is not necessary to register your copyright with government or other agencies.  In some countries (including the U.S.) there are official copyright registration facilities which help establish the proof of creation and can confer some other advantages in those countries.
  7. In addition to the economic rights associated with a work (which are assignable or transferable, usually for a fee), the original author of a work is entitled to be recognised as the author, and can object to the distortion, mutilation or other modification of the work which would be prejudicial to his or her reputation.

Copying Copyrighted Material

The act of making a copy or copies of a work without the permission of the copyright owner is prohibited by law (as the name implies).  In some countries, there are laws governing the distribution, rental, or importation of copies of such works.

Publishing Intellectual Property

  1. Publication of your work has the practical implication of making this work available for copyright theft.  The most damaging kind of copyright theft is where the pirate claims the work as his own and indeed takes actions such as Digiproving or even official registration of copyright to complete the theft.  It is therefore critical that any creator should take steps to establish copyright before publication.
  2. The inclusion of the well-known © copyright symbol with the year of creation in your published work is not universally necessary but has benefits.  No-one who makes unauthorised use of work that is identified in this way can claim that they have innocently infringed.

Useful References

We recommend the following documents/pages from official web-sites which offer specific information relating to copyright in the various jurisdictions, and we acknowledge our use of these websites in compiling this document.
Note: This document is a general overview of copyright as it applies internationally, and is provided in good faith by Digiprove to help creators and others gain a broad understanding of the topic.  It is recommended that you refer to national legislation or consult IP lawyers in the relevant jurisdictions to obtain a detailed and up to date picture in each country.
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