International Copyright Protection

Primarily as a result of how the internet has connected the world’s people and the world’s content, the investigation and enforcement of your company’s copyright-protected products must be done with an international outlook. This requires a complete understanding of the copyright laws of the United States and other counties, knowledge of international copyright treaties, and multi-lingual skills. Web Defense Systems has all three capabilities as we utilize a global, multilingual approach to work with your IP attorney to protect your copyrighted works.

Contrary to popular misconception, there is no such thing as an international copyright. To say it another way, there is not a single document, contract, treaty, or even idea that every country in the world has signed which would bound all of the world’s citizens to follow the same copyright laws. Such a document would make copyright infringement much easier to handle from an global perspective. Unfortunately, rather than a single, simple contract to connect countries, we are forced to deal with a hodgepodge of treaties, conventions, and bi-lateral relationships when dealing with copyright infringement issues between citizens/companies of different countries. Fortunately, the staff at Web Defense Systems has an overall grasp of the global marketplace’s most important copyright regulations. These include:

  1. The Berne Convention Treaty of 1886 (the United States signed on in 1989),
  2. The Universal Copyright Convention of 1952 in Geneva (the United States signed on in 1955),
  3. The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 1994 (the United States passed this in 1996).
  4. Perhaps most importantly, The World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty of 1996 (click here for a list of countries that have signed this important treaty) (implemented in the EU as the Copyright Directive in 2001 and in the United States in 1998as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [abbreviated DMCA]). Click here for more on the DMCA.

Although all of these intellectual property treaties are important, the most important body to consider from an international perspective is the actions of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). This specialized agency of the United Nations, originally formed in 1967 and based in Switzerland (and with an office in New York), sets most of the standards regarding copyright protection between counties. With an annual budget exceeding 650 million US dollars, this body has the power not only to help set standards, but to help Web Defense Systems go after pirates who won’t comply with the law. They deal with all types of intellectual property law: copyright law, trademark law, patent law, even domain name resolution. Their most important treaties were very similar: The WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. These two treaties require each of the countries who signed them (89 countries did so with the WCT) to have laws which protect the copyrighted works of people/companies who are from other countries that signed the treaty protected to the same degree as works copyrighted by people /companies within that country.

Web Defense Systems’ international approach to infringement monitoring and copyright enforcement goes well beyond simply knowing the basics of treaties. When we find violations of our clients’ copyright occurring outside the United States, we’ll immediately work to determine from what country the violation is originating, we’ll then quickly attempt to determine the identity of the offending party, and then we’ll work with your attorney to take action against the offending party in whatever manner the attorney recommends. And we’ll do so using the appropriate language, appropriate method of communication, and using laws and treaties that the offending party is obligated to follow.

As an example, we have clients that are companies (or individuals) who are incorporated and located in the United States and make their income from the sale of content (or any advertising on such content) which they own and have copyrighted with the United States Copyright Office. (This content may be in any form: video, audio, images, text, software, etc). When we search and discover this copyrighted content being illegally sold for profit (or just distributed for the sake of internet piracy) by a person or company outside the United States, it would be of little benefit to send the infringing party a letter citing United States copyright law such as the DMCA, as obviously someone in Europe or Asia isn’t bound to follow an American law like the DMCA. However, if we communicate with the offending party in a language they understand (Mandarin or Cantonese in China, French in France, etc), and we cite an international treaty to which they are obligated to abide by as a resident of their country, and we contact the authorities in their country and/or the WIPO, there is a much greater likelihood that the illegal distribution of our client’s copyrighted content will immediately stop.

Disclaimer: The purpose of our “Knowledge Base” documents is to explain the basics of the subject matter in question and to provide some rationale behind the actions that Web Defense Systems might take on behalf of our clients. We are not lawyers, and the preceding information should not be used in lieu of legal advice.