Most countries have signed on to the Berne Convention, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) which specifies that copyrighted material must be protected for fifty years (or more) after the death of the author.
But despite looking, I could not find a comprehensive list of non-members of the Berne Convention. So I compared the full list of countries, all 1971, to the Berne list, and came up with a list of countries that are not members.
- Marshall Islands
- Myanmar (Burma)
- North Korea
- Papua New Guinea
- San Marino
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- South Sudan
This is my map created using the AMCharts Visited Countries map maker (where it is interactive).
There are two special cases in this list, which are italicized for easy identification Taiwan isn’t a member because China doesn’t permit Taiwan to join treaties (as it considers Taiwan to be a territory.) But Taiwan has signed other copyright agreements, recognizes copyrights, and its copyrights are recognized. Kosovo isn’t recognized as a country by about half the world. It appears to respect copyright though it has not signed on to the Berne Convention.
If you look at the map you immediately notice that the majority of the countries are in Africa and the Middle East, although Oceania is well represented the countries are tiny island countries (some with as few as a few thousand citizens). The other interesting thing is that they appear to come in clusters. I’m not sure if this is because the value of respecting copyright is less if your neighbors do not respect it, but I thought it was very interesting.
1. This number is debatable. I don’t want to debate it.↩