With the world sharing more and more material, it pays to stay informed, especially if your work has potential to be used overseas.
Although member countries of the Berne Convention incorporate agreed principles of copyright in their national laws, the actual laws are not necessarily the same in every country.
Trade agreements and copyright are often the furthest things from a creative person’s mind, but they affect us all, and you can stay informed by being in community with associations that watch for and care about artists’ rights and business affairs.
According to the Berne convention, there are 3 basic principles for member countries to incorporate in their national laws, one of which is Reciprocation. This means that if country A has a resale royalty scheme, and country B does not, country A is not obligated to pay an artist any resale royalties on their work. So artists from both countries will miss out on potential resale royalties from sales in the other country.
Another example of subtle differences is in the USA, where, if someone infringes and you want to take them to court, your work must be registered with the US Copyright office. So, while in NZ there is no need to register your work, in the US, it’s imperative, for protection and damages in the case of infringement.
These are examples of potential inequity when it comes to copyright on an international scale. If you’re a big wheeler dealer international player, you likely already have a business or legal team in place to help you navigate and negotiate – if you don’t, it might be wise to start finding people to advise when you need it.
Even if you’re not making a lot of money in an overseas market, look up every now and then, and take a little time to understand what is going on, because the world is definitely shrinking in terms of speed of communication and the ease of using material on an international platform.
In general, keep an eye on, or be somewhat familiar with:
a.) Terms – is what you’re using out of copyright; does someone have the right to use your work
b.) What’s going on in your field
c.) Who’s using your stuff
d.) What can you do about it
e.) When to get professional legal help
Are you interested in finding out how copyright applies to you?
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Written by Karen Workman, Kaiwhakahaere Whakapa | Creative Rights Educator