Burn Berne: Why the Leading International Copyright Convention Must Be Repealed
Author develops three arguments:
- Berne's "national treatment" means state apparatus of countries of the South is deployed to protect interests of copyright holders in rich countries, a formal equality that reinforces substantive inequality
- Purported balance of or possibility of balancing copyright between owners and users does not work and is theoretically incoherent and nonapplicable given power inequality between corporate owners in rich countries and users in poor countries
- Copyright ideology is not universal but grew out of specific conditions in Western Europe and thus is a coercive incursion into the South
Some points made:
- IP revenues flow almost entirely South to North, with US and UK being only countries with positive IP trade balances (US overwhelming share)
- Copyright not shown to be vehicle for development of countries the the South
- Only South countries original Berne signatories are Haiti and Tunisia
Berne is ultimately beyond balance. It reform is almost impossible as unanimity is required for amendment and:
- Berne is a "minimum rights" treaty for copyright holders
- Single purpose: protect rights of authors
- 1960s attempt by newly independent states to make more favorable failed
- Original, authorial, fixed works protected, ie production of North
Concludes with a long list of copyright harms to the South, including unavailability of books and translations.
Theoretical and practical relevance:
Does not propose any path toward repeal.
For more on book and translation harms, see Copyright and Inequality.