Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law


Goldie Gabriel

First Page



United States copyrighted works are exploited internationally--or at least artists hope for them to be exploited internationally. The Berne Convention ("Berne"),' to which the U.S. became a member on March 1, 1989, is the primary regulator of international copyright issues. Berne's purpose is to "protect, in as effective and uniform a manner as possible, the rights of authors in their literary and artistic works." To achieve this purpose, Berne mandates that its parties provide equal treatment and minimum levels of protection to members of the Berne Union. Berne does not, however, require new laws to provide those protections. Instead, Berne allows individual discretion in conformity. This results in varying levels of protection. Consequently, U.S. and foreign copyright laws differ on key issues that affect both copyright owners' and artists' rights.

This article addresses international distribution issues that may result from the divergence of applicable domestic and foreign laws concerning rights associated with co-owned copyrighted musical works. Part I reviews domestic co-ownership laws, and Part II reviews foreign co-ownership laws. Part III provides a comparative analysis of the law and explores how foreign courts might rule on laws that are violated in their country but are lawful in the country of the work's origination. The concluding section proposes contractual solutions.