Developing Countries and the Berne Convention

The most important concern at the last revision of the Berne Convention remained the reinforcement of the Convention. The latest Paris Act of the Berne Convention thus recognizes a particular right in favor of developing countries. Where the identity of the author is unknown, but where there is every ground to assume that he is a national of a country of the Union, the rights in such a work are to be acknowledged in all countries of the Union. By this provision the Berne Convention has rendered it possible for the developing countries to guard their folklore also overseas. It was made a matter for legislation in the country of origin of such works to designate the competent authority which should represent the unknown author and protect and enforce his rights in the countries of the Union. By providing for the bringing of actions by authorities designated by the State the Berne Convention offers to developing countries a possibility of protecting it.

In the Appendix which forms a vital part of the Paris Act special provisions were included concerning developing countries. The Appendix provides for the possibility of granting non-exclusive and non-transferable compulsory licenses in respect of translation for the purpose of teaching, scholarship or research as well as reproduction for use in connection with systematic instructional activities protected under the Convention. These licenses may be granted after the expiry of certain time limits as well as after fulfillment with certain procedural steps by the competent authority of the developing country concerned. They must provide for just compensation in favor of the owner of the right. The payment to be made by the compulsory licensee must be consistent with standards of royalties usually in vogue in respect of licenses freely negotiated between persons in the two countries concerned. Provision has also to be made to guarantee a correct translation or an exact reproduction of the work and to specify the name of the author on all copies of such translations or reproductions.

Compulsory licenses for translations can be granted for languages normally spoken in the developing country concerned. There is a difference between languages in general use also in one or more developed countries as well as those not in general use there. In the case of a language in general use in one or more developed countries, a period of three years, starting on the date of the first publication of the work has to pass before a license can be applied for. To this has to be added a period of six to nine months for obtaining licenses according to the formalities provided for in the Convention. It is also significant here to point out that the system of translation licenses includes licenses for broadcasting and this is essential when we take into account the part played in today’s context by the radio as well as television for educational purposes. These licenses are not for authorizing the broadcasting of a translated work. They relate only to translations made for broadcasting purposes.

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