Hi, I’m Stan Muller, and this is Crash Course
Intellectual Property. Today, we’re talking about international intellectual property
law, and the first thing I’m gonna tell you is that there aren’t really any international intellectual property rights. IP rights are territorial. They’re created by each country’s national law, and typically apply only to conduct that takes place within that nation. So, there you have it.
Thanks for watching, I’ll see you next week. Crash Course Intellectual Property is filmed
in the Chad and Stacey Emig–is this really all we have today? What about the complex
web of international IP treaties that establish minimum standards for IP laws in countries around
the world? Can’t we talk about that for eleven minutes? [Theme Music] So all these international treaties set up
ground rules for stuff like how long a copyright or patent should last, or the basic subject
matter of trademarks. Countries that join these treaties can have higher protection
standards, but the treaties set up a baseline of protection they must provide. The most
important minimum standard set up by these treaties is the principle of national treatment,
which operates something like an international IP golden rule, “Do onto other countries’
authors and inventors as you would have done unto your own.” Basically, each country has
to give foreigners IP protection that is no less favorable than the protection granted
to its own people. These international treaties are a response
to globalization. Political reforms have torn down the iron curtain, and trade with half
the world that was basically off limits to the West a few years ago is now possible.
China. Legal reforms have facilitated an expanded economic exchanges, and IP rights play a significant
role in all channels of international trade. Sellers of goods are more likely to sell to
a country that has strong IP rights, especially for products like computer software or films,
where the product is basically pure IP. Beyond this, technological advances mean that someone
might be watching this right now in Antarctica and to that person I say, do you really have
the bandwidth in Antarctica to watch Crash Course? In any case, borders and distance mean less
and less in the digitized world. But as we discussed in CrashCourse World History, globalization
is complicated. Some argue that ratcheting up IP minimum standards, especially in a world
where around 90% of all technology royalties and licensing fees are received by 5 developed
countries, is not always a good thing. Developed and developing nations often have
very different attitudes toward intellectual property. Developed nations usually try to
get full economic benefits from their inventions and knowledge through strong IP rights. They
argue that strong IP laws are necessary to protect the significant investments of developing
these products. Pharmaceuticals and feature films cost a lot to make, and the creators
want a return on their investment. Rich countries also argue that strong intellectual property laws
will make developing countries more attractive trade partners, because creators know their IP exports will
be protected, so they’re more likely to send stuff there. Developing nations argue that they need access
to advanced technology and knowledge, which are the tools they need to develop, modernize,
and compete in the modern world. They often view strong IP rights as a tool used to either
deny access altogether to technology and knowledge or to severely limit access via high royalties
and licensing fees. So it’s an open question as to who’s right about this. Do you happen
to know? Don’t count on it. Yeah, me either. So, we’ve got no answers, but let’s take a look at the
international frameworks for copyright, patents, and trademarks. The oldest and most important copyright
treaty is the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. The Berne
Convention, as it’s known, was first signed in 1886 in Berne, Switzerland, and was aimed
at solving the problem of widely varying treatment of foreign authors among countries. The United
States, for example, didn’t grant copyrights to foreign works until 1891. In his 1842 reading
tour of the United States, Charles Dickens was treated like a rock star, mostly because
so many people were reading cheap, pirated editions of his books. And so the US press
attacked him. To quote one outlet, “We are mortified and grieved that he should have
been guilty of such great indelicacy and impropriety, asking us to do honor to his genius but to
look after his purse also.” So we steal this guy’s copyrights and then insult him for complaining
about it. Welcome to America, Dickens! This state of affairs continued until 1878,
when France convened an international literary congress with Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables
and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, as its head. As with all things created by Victor Hugo,
it was way too long. The agreement was finally signed in 1886 by ten countries. Today, there
are 168 members of this treaty, which is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization,
or WIPO. The United States didn’t officially join the
Berne Convention until 1989, which also happens to be the year that the cinema classic and
highly lucrative intellectual property Weekend at Bernie’s was released. Is that a coincidence?
Mmm… maybe. The Berne Convention adopts the aforementioned
principle of national treatment and sets up certain minimum standards for the copyright
laws of any country that signs on. Things like minimum copyright terms and the scope
of exceptions and limitations to exclusive rights. The treaty also largely eliminates what are
called “formalities”. Berne countries can’t require that authors go through formalities
like copyright registration or require a copyright notice or symbol to get protection. But without
requirements, the owners register their works and record ownership transfers with their
particular government, ownership information is often lost and authors can’t be located.
This creates a lot of problems. Another problem with the Berne Convention
is that it doesn’t have an effective enforcement system. When a country violates the treaty,
there’s no effective way to punish them for it. Members do have the option of trying to
settle the dispute through the International Court of Justice, but this option has been
used exactly 0 times. A lot of these issues were “resolved” by the trade related aspects of
intellectual property rights, or TRIPS Agreement. Formed in 1994, this agreement incorporates
most of the Berne Convention and adds a few copyright bits of its own. The TRIPS agreement
is administered by the World Trade Organization, and it has a strong enforcement mechanism
in place under the WTO’s dispute settlement body. So if a country doesn’t comply, the
WTO’s like, “WTF!” They then decide whether there’s a violation and what kind of punishment
they need to impart. Beyond the Berne Convention and TRIPS, the
World Intellectual Property Organization produced two multi-lateral treaties: the WIPO Copyright Treaty
and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. These are referred to as the “Internet treaties”
and the US implemented them in 1998 through its introduction of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or the DMCA which you, as an Internet user, probably hate. International copyright is enormously complex.
Luckily, international patent law is dead simple. Nah, it’s enormously complex too.
Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. As the industrial revolution advanced across
Europe and North America, differences in countries’ patent laws piqued an interest in creating
international standards for patents. The International Convention for the Protection of Intellectual
Property, commonly known as the Paris Convention, was signed in 1883. In Paris, France. Like
the Berne Convention, the Paris Convention lacks an adequate enforcement mechanism. If
a country violates the treaty, everybody’s back in the International Court of Justice.
But, just as with copyrights, nobody does this. Because the Paris Convention didn’t really
set minimum standards, countries had great freedom to tailor their patent laws to their
own needs and interests. Developing countries, for example, might exclude pharmaceutical
products from patentability because they feel like health-related products and medicine
should be affordable for people to buy. Many developed nations successfully sought to close
this gap during negotiations of our old frenemy, the TRIPS Agreement. TRIPS incorporates parts
of the Paris Convention and sets forth a number of minimum standards for patent protection.
TRIPS prevents World Trade Organization members from denying patents to pharmaceuticals or
biotechnology products or processes. Unlike the Berne Convention, which does away
with copyright formalities, the Paris Convention assumes that the inventor has to apply to
his or her particular government’s patent office or government. Countries that are party
to the convention can’t give foreign inventors a hard time. They get the same protections
that apply to domestic inventors. The Patent Cooperation Treaty makes this easier. It helps
coordinate procedures for filing multiple patent applications for the same invention
in several countries around the world. Thanks, Thought Bubble. So, the Paris Convention also governs trademarks.
In many ways, it treats trademarks like patents. It requires countries to provide for national
treatment. Because trademark law is territorial and you have to apply for protection in each
country where use is planned, there are two special agreements that establish a common
international registration system. These are the 1891 Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks and the 1989 Madrid Protocol for Relating to the Madrid Agreement. Aside from all these European capitals and
their agreements and conventions and protocols, the TRIPS Agreement extends protection to
geographical indications. This means that the word “Champagne” can only be used for
sparkling wine produced in France’s Champagne region. It also extends to words like Bordeaux,
Chablis, Parma ham, Roquefort cheese, Florida orange juice, Vermont white cheddar, all that
business. These issues have been a point of contention
between the US and the EU. Europe has long pushed for greater protection of geographical
indications. Every time you eat Greek yogurt or Feta cheese, every time you smoke a Cuban
cigar, every time you stir up a cup of Swiss Miss hot chocolate, every time you’re confounded
by a Chinese finger trap, you’re seeing a potential geographical indication violation. At the end of the day, international intellectual
property is all about setting minimum standards and national treatment. It’s about countries
treating the nationals of other countries at least as well as they treat their own. This push for standardization has caused some
problems. There are now so many IP treaties and agreements and protocols in place that
it makes intellectual property reform difficult. So, for example, changing the law to reduce
the copyright term in the United States isn’t just a matter of changing the US law. It’s a matter of changing all of these international agreements. Just as individual nations struggle to keep
pace with our increasingly globalized world, so does the international intellectual
property system. Both national and international systems are struggling to find the right balance
of exclusive rights and public access to knowledge in a world where borders are traversed with
a click. Thanks for watching. We’ll see you next week. CrashCourse Intellectual Property is filmed
in the Chad and Stacey Emigholz Studio in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana, and is made
by this crew of international creators. If you’d like to keep CrashCourse free for everyone
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Thanks for watching. We’ll see you next week.