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Copyright and Permissions: International Law

Welcome! This guide provides information and resources on copyright law in Lebanon and internationally. The guide emphasizes on how copyright law relates to academic activities such as research, teaching, and publishing.

International copyright law

There is no such thing as an international copyright law. Nevertheless, protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends on the national laws of that country. Nearly 180 countries have ratified a treaty – the Berne Convention 1886, amended many times since then and administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) 1979.

The Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) was adopted in 1952 under the aegis of UNESCO with a view to extend international copyright protection universally. The UCC was revised in 1971

WIPO is the global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation. It is a self-funding agency of the United Nations, with 191 member states.

WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) was issued in 1996.

Despite the fact that the copyright law is subject to national legislations based sometimes on very different legal systems, the Berne Convention contains provisions which provide the minimum protection to be granted amongst its signatories. As WIPO explains, there are 3 basic principles, to which all the contracting members agree:

  1. “National treatment”, which means that a work created and protected in one treaty country is also protected in another signatory country, under that country’s rules – You apply the law of the country where the work is being used.
  2. “Automatic” protection, which states that no formalities are needed for a work to be protected. In particular, the protection must not be conditioned upon registration of the work.
  3. “Independence” of protection – even if the work is not given protection in the country of origin, it’s still provided with minimum protection described by the Berne Convention.

Even if a particular country is not bound to protect copyrights by international copyright treaties or conventions, protection under the specific provisions of the country’s national laws may still be possible.  

listing of countries and the nature of their copyright relations with the United States is available from the U.S. Copyright Office.

EU & US Copyright Acts

Copyright in the United States is covered mainly by The Copyright Act of 1976. In the EU countries legislation is based on a number of regulations including The European Directive on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (2001/29/EC) also known as Informative Society Directive.

Directive 2001/29/EC  is a directive of the European Union enacted to implement the WIPO Copyright Treaty and to harmonise aspects of copyright law across Europe, such as copyright exceptions. The directive was enacted under the internal market provisions of the Treaty of Rome


The Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) was adopted in 1952 under the aegis of UNESCO with a view to extend international copyright protection universally. The UCC was revised in 1971. After the entry into force of the Revision Act, the UCC can be adhered to only in its 1971 version.

The UNESCO  Information for All Programme is an intergovernmental program, created in 2000. Through IFAP, Governments of the world have pledged to harness the new opportunities of the information age to create equitable societies through better access to information.