What is Universal Copyright Convention?

In India, Copyrights are protected under the Indian Copyright Act, 1957. To ensure the protection of the work across the international borders, India has entered into various treaties for securing global protection of Indian across different countries.

With the rapid growth and development of technology, there is a lot of communication and exchange of creative works beyond the national borders. That is why international copyright protection becomes an essential aspect of intellectual property protection, to ensure that the creative works are able to retain their value. 

India’s Need for International Protection

The Indian Copyright Act of 1957 regulates and governs the protection of creative works within India. In a similar manner, most national copyright laws are territorial and don’t apply to works that are beyond the national jurisdiction.

This is why the validity of a copyright beyond the national borders and the related protection of the work becomes complex.

For instance, what is the validity of copyright and scope of protection if a book is authored in India, but published in the United Kingdom and subsequently translated in Spain?

International Treaties

To mitigate this basic issue, India has entered into a number of international treaties to ensure that Indian works are protected internationally. While there are a number of treaties that India is a part of, the most significant ones include:

  • Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
  • The Universal Copyright Convention (UCC)

History of the UCC

Adopted in 1952, the Universal Copyright Convention today stands as one of the principal international conventions for protecting copyrights around the world. It was initiated as a project by the UNESCO as an alternative to the Berne Convention.

The Berne Convention, which was first adopted in 1886, was starting to lose momentum, and there were several people around the world who were disagreeing with the norms of the convention.

The adoption of the UCC was seen as an alternative multilateral copyright protection treaty that counties could enter into if they happened to disagree with the Berne Convention.

Purpose of the UCC

The Universal Copyright Convention was set up as an alternative to the Berne Convention, to meet the following purposes:

  • Ensure that more countries are part of the international copyright community
  • More flexible and easier to comply with compared to the Berne Convention
  • Ease in compliance for developing countries.

Features of the UCC

There are the main distinguishing features of the UCC.

  1. National Treatment: The UCC follows the principle of national treatment as opposed to automatic protection.

This essentially means that the contracting countries do not have to give foreign work automatic protection if the national provisions are not being complied with.

  1. The term of the Work: The UCC gives protection for original literary, artistic and scientific works. A copyright notice is to be placed alongside the work to give reasonable notice of the copyright claim. Under the provisions of the UCC, a work is protected for a period of the lifetime of the author and 25 years after the death of the author.
  2. Minimum Rights: Under the provisions of the UCC, the contracting countries have to provide a set of ‘minimum rights’ to the rightful owner of the work, as long as they do not create a conflict with ‘the spirit’ of the convention.


Both the Universal Copyright Convention and the Berne Convention regularly undergo revisions to be relevant with the changing time and standards, especially to keep pace with the development and technological advancements. Treaties are usually revised after all the contracting states agree on the changes.

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