Is my copyright effective in other countries?

It depends on the country. The United States has signed agreements with more than 100 countries, meaning we honor their citizens’ copyrights and they honor ours. While that’s a lot, that doesn’t include everyone.

There are a number of treaties that enabled this to happen, most notably when the United States signed the Berne Convention in 1989. In 1965, the United Nations created the agency the World Intellectual Property Organization (affectionately nicknamed “WIPO”) to facilitate communications between member countries. The United States Copyright Office provides an informational circular that lists the different treaties, as well as countries we have agreements with and through which treaties we came to the agreement. 

Even if you see a country on the list that we have an agreement with, it is important to research the country’s laws a bit more or ask for legal advice. For instance, France has a separate duration category they call “mort pour la France,” meaning those who have died for France. Like most countries they are aligned with, the duration of the copyright is life of the author plus seventy years. But if the author died in a war fighting on behalf of France, the copyright is extended to be life plus 100 years. France also has a subcategory for the “moral rights” of the work, meaning they can prevent any modification of the work to protect its integrity. Myriad differences in other countries’ interpretation of copyright law mean you always have to take a keen eye to your work before you submit it to the international public. 


If you have a question about whether your copyright will be recognized and protected in a jurisdiction outside of the United States, feel free to contact New Media Rights via our contact form to find out whether you qualify for free or reduced fee legal services. We also offer competitive full fee legal services on a selective basis. For more information on the services we provide click here.

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