By means of the Berne Convention on Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention), an author enjoys copyright protection automatically upon the creation of the work. No registration or application procedure is required when seeking protection within the signatory countries; the Convention ensures that Copyright is automatic. The Convention goes further as to prohibit the States from requiring formal registration. Foreign authors are granted the same rights and privileges to copyrighted material as domestic authors in any country being a signatory to the Convention.
An author enjoys copyright protection automatically, provided that:
- The work is fixed
- It is written or recorded on some physical medium
The 164 signatory states are bound by the Convention to recognize the copyright of works of authors from other signatory countries in the same ways as they would recognize the copyright of its own nationals.
The Convention sets out a minimum period of protection: 50 years after the authors death and states are free to provide longer terms. In the case of photographic works protection is the minimum protection is of 25 years from the year the photograph was created. For cinematographic works the minimum protection is 50 years after first showing, or 50 years after creation if it hasnt been shown within 50 years after creation.
The copyright law of the country where the copyright is claimed shall be applied, however the Convention provides for a rule of the shorter term i.e. an author would not be entitled to a longer copyright abroad than at home, even if laws abroad give a longer term.
Malta is a member state of the Berne Convention.