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Copyright at The College of St. Scholastica

International Copyright

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Copyright exists in almost every country and each country's copyright laws are different. In fact, many countries' copyright laws are much different than U. S. Copyright Law. In an effort to make using copyrighted works from around the world easier for the common good, many countries have entered into copyright agreements in the form of different treaties and copyright agreements. These treaties and agreements establish obligations for treaty member countries to adhere to. These treaties and agreements also require treaty members to implement specific copyright provisions into their national copyright laws to provide more certainty and understanding about the levels of copyright protection in particular countries. 

There are several treaties, agreements, and other provisions that the U. S. has signed in regards to copyright. One treaty is the Berne Convention. This treaty dictates countries to follow a principle of "National Treatment." This means that countries who have signed the treaty have agreed to follow the copyright laws of each country for a foreign work. In other words, a foreign work will be protected in the U. S. in the same way and upon the same standards as would a work created within the U. S. In addition, the same protections would apply to a U. S. work in a foreign country. In other words, any U. S. work would be given the same protections in a foreign country as any works created within that country. 

How does international copyright affect my teaching , research, and scholarship?

The U.S is a Berne Convention treaty member. As a Berne Convention treaty member, there are a couple key presumptions that can be made under this treaty. 

  • First, if you are in the U. S. and trying to determine the appropriate copyright status of a foreign copyrighted work, then the U. S. Copyright Laws apply to make that determination. 
  • Second, so long as you are carrying out your scholarly work in the U. S., then you should apply U. S. Copyright Law to make your copyright determination. This applies to both your own work and any other work that you may be integrating into your work or using to build upon. 

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