Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



This Note addresses the principle of retroactive copyright protection as it applies to new adherents to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (the Convention). The Note first examines the primary purposes of retroactivity as evidenced by the Convention's history and subsequent revisions. Next, the Note analyzes the language of the retroactivity principle as it appears in the most recent version of the Convention. The Note then discusses problems that may result from the United States recent adherence to the Convention. The author concludes that the current domestic copyright law of the United States violates international obligations under the Convention and may pose serious political problems for the United States in the future.

The Note addresses the problems that may be faced by existing members of the Convention as other nonmember states seek to join the Berne Union. The Note also examines the unique situation of the People's Republic of China, a notorious pirater of literary and artistic works that now is considering adherence to the Convention. The author concludes that existing members of the Convention must be willing to negotiate some degree of retroactive protection for works of new adherents if they are to encourage states such as China to become members of the Berne Union.