CISAC acts to promote legislation on copyright and authors' rights that protects the moral and economic interests of creators. One of the most prominent examples in our history was the so called CISAC Case of 2008 and its subsequent landmark judgement in 2013. But the roots of authors' rights stretch much further back than this.

The most prominent legal reference to authors’ rights was laid out in article 27.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. It read:

Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

The principles of international copyright protection however stretch much further back than this. They were first established by the Berne Convention of 1886 and this still constitutes the corner stone of an extensive body of international law.

Milestones in Law

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886)

The basic principles governing the protection of author’s rights at the international level were laid down in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Currently signed by 168 countries, the Berne Convention establishes such rules as "national treatment", meaning that in every country, foreign authors enjoy the same right as national authors.The complete Bern Convention text is available at the WIPO website and a good summary exists at Wikipedia.

Universal Copyright Convention (1952)

Under the auspices of UNESCO, this convention was drawn up to establish a system of copyright protection for all nations of the world, able to ensure respect for the rights of the individual and encourage the development of literature, the sciences and the arts. Its best-known result is the famous © symbol, meaning that a work is protected in this country and consequently in all the countries that signed the Copyright Convention. Moreover, the convention provides standards for adequate and effective copyright protection, such as the basic rights ensuring the author’s economic interests and the term of protection. The complete convention text in three languages is available at the UNESCO website.

International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations (The Rome Convention) (1961)

The Rome Convention extended copyright protection to neighbouring rights: performing artists enjoy rights over their performances, producers of phonograms over their recordings and radio and television organisations over their programs. The protection provided under this convention differs according to whether it is to be granted to artists or to producers of phonograms and broadcasting organisations. For the former, the protection includes the possibility of preventing certain uses of their performances without their consent and subject to certain conditions, while the latter enjoy the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit. To learn more, a summary is available here.

Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (The TRIPS Agreement) (1994)

Aiming at harmonising international trade hand-in-hand with effective and adequate protection of intellectual property rights, the TRIPS Agreement was drafted to ensure the provision of proper standards and principles concerning the availability, scope and use of trade-related intellectual property rights. At the same time, the agreements foresee means for the enforcement of such rights. An overview of the TRIPS agreement is available at the World Trade Organisation website.

World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) (1996)

The WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) were drafted in 1996 in order to adapt the protection of the rights of authors to the challenges posed by the advent of the digital world. The WCT, aimed at ushering copyright legislation into the digital age, entered into force on March 6, 2002. The WPPT, dealing with performances and phonograms, took effect on May 20, 2002.

The Beijing Treaty

The Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances deals with the copyright of performers in audiovisual performances, which was adopted on 26 June 2012 by the Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of Audiovisual Performances of the World Intellectual Property Organization in Beijing. The treaty aims to promote the economic and moral rights of audiovisual performers. 76 countries are the signatory states of the treaty of which Botswana, China, Japan, Slovakia, Syria and United Arab Emirates have ratified the treaty. The treaty will not enter into force until it has been ratified by at least 30 eligible parties.