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Global protection: The Universal Copyright Convention

The Universal Copyright Convention (1952) marked a key step in global copyright protection, expanding recognition of creative works worldwide.


In an increasingly globalised and interconnected world, the protection of copyright at the international level is of vital importance. The Universal Copyright Convention (UCC), adopted in 1952, is one of the most important treaties in this field and represents a significant step towards ensuring the protection and recognition of creative works worldwide. This article examines the origins, objectives and legacy of the UCC.

Origins of the UCC

The Universal Copyright Convention was adopted in Geneva on 6 September 1952 under the auspices of UNESCO. This international treaty was conceived as a complement and alternative to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, with the aim of extending copyright protection worldwide and facilitating the accession of new countries.

The main features of the UCC are:

Minimum protection

Like the Berne Convention, the UCC establishes a set of minimum standards of copyright protection for literary, scientific and artistic works. This includes, for example, the right of reproduction, distribution, communication to the public and adaptation of protected works.

Formal requirements

Unlike the Berne Convention, the UCC allows countries to impose certain formal requirements for the protection of works, such as the inclusion of a copyright notice. However, these requirements may not be more stringent than those applicable to national works.

Principle of national treatment

The UCC establishes the principle of national treatment, which ensures that authors from member countries receive the same treatment as national authors in other signatory countries.

Duration of protection

The UCC provides for a minimum term of protection of 25 years from the first publication of the work or, if unpublished, from its creation.

The legacy of the UCC

Although the UCC was a major breakthrough in international copyright protection, its impact was limited compared to the Berne Convention. Nevertheless, the UCC was an important treaty in the history of copyright because it facilitated the accession of new countries and paved the way for subsequent treaties, such as the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Treaties.


The UCC was an important step in the development of copyright protection at the international level. Despite its limited impact compared to the Berne Convention, this treaty helped to extend the protection of creative works worldwide and laid the foundation for future intellectual property treaties and agreements. As technology advances and borders become increasingly blurred, international copyright protection remains a critical issue. While the UCC is no longer the dominant treaty in this area, it remains an important milestone in the history of copyright and a reminder of the need for global cooperation and harmonisation.

In the 21st century, the copyright and intellectual property challenges of the digital age require an even more unified and cooperative approach among countries. Although the UCC is no longer the most influential treaty in this field, its legacy lives on, reminding us of the importance of setting strong international standards and protecting creative works in an increasingly interconnected world.

Photo by Christelle Alix / UNESCO

Author Gabriel Espinoza

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