International Copyright

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  • Hi all,

    We have a faculty person that has borrowed a book published in the Republic
    of Georgia(1963 - Tbilisi, Georgia, which was then a part of the Soviet
    Union at that time) from a German Library. She would like us to scan the
    whole item for her use. (It is a 'use in library only" book).

    I contend that because (Germany, Russia and Georgia - and the USA) have all
    signed on to the Berne Convention and WIPO treaty that we cannot copy/scan
    the entire work. "The Berne Convention requires its signatories to recognize
    the copyright of works of authors from other signatory countries (known as
    members of the Berne Union) in the same way it recognizes the copyright of
    its own nationals." In other words, we need to offer this work the same protection that
    we would any US publication from 1963 and we would only be able to scan or copy a limited
    portion of this book for her.

    Her contention is that because the various countries signed these documents
    at a date after this was published that it falls outside this copyright

    Are there any experts out there willing to set us on the correct path with

    Thanks, Kathy

    Kathryn Leigh
    Head, Access Services
    W.E.B. Du Bois Library
    154 Hicks Way
    University of Massachusetts
    Amherst, MA 01003
  • On reading Berne, I think that the key to determine is whether or not the book would have been under copyright in Georgia when Georgia joined Berne in 1995. If so, then protection here would follow US copyright law. If not, then I think it would have no copyright protection in the US. I interpreted this from Article 18 (quoted below). You can see the full text at

    Article 18
    Works Existing on Convention's Entry Into Force:
    1. Protectable where protection not yet expired in country of origin;
    2. Non-protectable where protection already expired in country where it is claimed;
    3. Application of these principles; 4. Special cases

    (1) This Convention shall apply to all works which, at the moment of its coming into force, have not yet fallen into the public domain in the country of origin through the expiry of the term of protection.

    (2) If, however, through the expiry of the term of protection which was previously granted, a work has fallen into the public domain of the country where protection is claimed, that work shall not be protected anew.

    (3) The application of this principle shall be subject to any provisions contained in special conventions to that effect existing or to be concluded between countries of the Union. In the absence of such provisions, the respective countries shall determine, each in so far as it is concerned, the conditions of application of this principle.

    (4) The preceding provisions shall also apply in the case of new accessions to the Union and to cases in which protection is extended by the application of Article 7 or by the abandonment of reservations.
  • So the key would be to determine if this item was protected under Georgia Copyright law at the time they signed the Berne Convention correct? Any idea on how one would determine this? There was no copyright statement on the work itself.

    Thanks again, Kathy

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