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University of Ottawa Law & Technology Journal

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copyright, Berne Convention, limitations and exceptions


Intellectual Property Law | International Law | Law


This Article suggests a path to develop a principled conceptualization for copyright of limitations and exceptions at the international level. The paper argues that, normatively, copyright has always sought to reflect a balance between protection and access. It demonstrates that this balance was present to the minds of the negotiators of the 1886 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and may have been somewhat overlooked in revisions of the Convention. It was ultimately replaced by a three-step test designed to restrict the ability of individual legislators to create limitations and exceptions. The article also considers the conflicts between copyright and rights such as the right to privacy, human rights principles of free expression and cultural diversity, the right to information, the right to education, and the nascent right to development, all of which imply striking a balance in intellectual property protection. The article begins with a historical look at the public interest foundations of the Berne Convention and its revisions until 1971. The article then proceeds to a conceptualization of limitations and exceptions in order to show the policy linkages of each type of exception and proposes a set of principles for limitations and exceptions. The article also examines the meaning and impact of the three-step test because it would be pointless, not theoretically, but from a policy perspective, to ignore the application of the test in suggesting international principles for limitations and exceptions.



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