So you have registered your copyright with the United States Copyright Office, which gives you robust protection and the option for more sizable damages in the event of infringement. But what if your registered copyright is being infringed in another country? As there is technically no such thing as an “international copyright” (copyrights are only national in scope), your route to recovery will be slightly more difficult.
A total of 172 countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, and Australia, are parties to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (“Berne Convention”). Under the Berne Convention, the countries recognize copyrights held by the citizens of all other signatory countries. Thus, owners of U.S. copyrights do not have to register their works in foreign countries in order to be protected.
Being protected under international copyright laws and actually enforcing a copyright internationally, however, are very different things. If the infringement is occurring solely on foreign soil, the copyright owner will have to bring a copyright infringement lawsuit under the laws of that country, rather than U.S. copyright law. While it is possible to obtain jurisdiction over a foreign infringer in U.S. Courts (think importation of copyright infringing goods into the US), that is not always an option. If you are serious about pursuing copyright infringement claims internationally, you will need to acquire a lawyer licensed in that country.
If you are concerned that your copyright has been violated in another country and need an assessment of your rights and options, give Traverse Legal a call today.