Is there an internationally recognized copyright?

No; instead, there are a number of international copyright treaties, of which the Berne Convention (RBÜ) of 1886 and TRIPS of 1994 are the most important international copyright treaties. Other important treaties are the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT). This treaty regulates copyright issues for the purpose of updating the RBC. With the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT), related rights of performers and producers of phonograms are recorded separately.

What does the Berne Convention regulate?

The Berne Convention (Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works) was last updated in 1979. According to Article 5 of the RBC, each contracting state must recognise the protection of works by citizens of other contracting states in the same way as it recognises the protection of works by its own citizens (the so-called “country of protection principle”). The consequence of this, however, is that the foreign author may have different rights in the different states because they are regulated differently in the respective target state (in contrast to the country of origin principle). Approximately 158 states have acceded to the RBC.

Subsequent international agreements generally allow the RBCs to apply at least as a supplement.

What are the TRIPS?

The TRIPS are an annex to the WTO rules. Any state wishing to become a member of the WTO must also ratify TRIPS. Currently, the WTO and thus TRIPS has about 149 members. However, not only copyright aspects are regulated, but also the basic features of a free trade economy while maintaining all IP rights, i.e. in particular technical property rights as well as supplementary ancillary copyrights. In addition, the member states may develop their own basic limits of protection, so that the harmonisation effect from the author’s point of view is rather small and the harmonisation effect from the user’s point of view can at best be summarised as the lowest common denominator.

What effect do international agreements have?

Like simple treaties, international agreements basically only work between the contracting parties, i.e. the states that have concluded them. A direct validity within the states and in favour of the citizens cannot be inferred in this respect, but such a validity can be inferred in the interpretation of national law.