Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

General Detail

General Information

  1. Type: Convention
  2. Date of signature:
  3. Place of signature: Berne, Switzerland
  4. Depositary:
  5. Date of entry into force: 05/12/1887


Intellectual property

Sub category




What is it about?

This instrument protects both economic and moral rights of authors of literary and artistic works. It establishes a Special Union under the framework of the Union for the Protection of Industrial Property (Paris, 20 March 1883). The provisions of the Bern Convention concern all literary, scientific and artistic productions, such as books, lectures and addresses, theatrical works, choreographies, cinematographic works, musical productions, drawings, paintings, sculptures and photography. The rights covered concern the translation, reproduction, public recitation, broadcast and adaptation of literary and artistic works. The Bern Convention is based on three principles: 1) Authors enjoy with respect to their literary and artistic works in countries of the Union other than their country of origin, the rights that their respective laws grant to their nationals, as well as the rights specially granted by the Convention. 2) The enjoyment and the exercise of these rights is not subject to any formality; such enjoyment and such exercise shall be independent of the existence of protection in the country of origin of the work. 3) The protection offered implies that all counterfeit works can be seized within the territory of State parties. A State party may adopt reservations and conditions on the exclusive right granted to the author, including the reproduction of works when public information demands so require. A system of compulsory licences concerning the public broadcast of works and the recording of musical works is also provided.

Why is it relevant?

The Bern Convention is the oldest instrument protecting authors’ rights by establishing a system recognizing that authors have an exclusive right to the usage of their literary and artistic works. The lack of enforcement provisions in the Bern Convention led to the adoption of other international instruments protecting authors’ rights, for example the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) adopted under the WTO. The TRIPS Agreement refers to the Berne Convention in the Copyright section.

Additional Information

The Bern Convention of 1886 has been supplemented and revised several times to address technological advances (May 4, 1886 in Paris, November 13, 1908 in Berlin,March 20, 1914 in Bern, June 2 1938 in Rome, June 26, 1948 in Brussels, July 14, 1967 in Stockholm, and July 24, 1971 and September 28, 1979 in Paris). The Special Union created by this Convention is composed of an Assembly, of an Executive Committee and the International Bureau of WIPO.

  • WIPO Copyright Treaty (Geneva, 20 December 1996)
  • Universal Copyright Convention (Paris, 24 July 1971) 1. Annex 1 of the Universal Copyright Convention as revised at Paris on 24 July 1971 concerning the application of that Convention to works of Stateless persons and refugees (Paris, 24 July 1971) 2. Annex 2 of the Universal Copyright convention as revised at Paris on 24 July 1971 concerning the application of that Convention to the works of certain international organizations (Paris, 24 July 1971)


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