Remarks on Signing the Berne
Convention Implementation Act of 1988
October 31, 1988
I'd had this kind of a supporting cast, I never would have left Hollywood. [Laughter] Well, good
morning. And today we celebrate victory in the name of a right as old as the Union itself and as central
to our Union as any: the right all
Americans have to protect their property. We're here to sign into law the Berne
Convention Implementation Act of 1988. It will enable the United States to adhere to the Berne convention for the
protection of literary and artistic works. The Berne convention, which was
originally concluded in 1886 and approved by our Senate earlier this month,
provides for the protection of copyrighted works from international pirates who
make their living by stealing and then selling the creative accomplishments of
77 countries as members, including most of our trading partners, the Berne convention features the
highest internationally recognized standards for the protection of works of
authorship. Our membership will automatically grant the United States copyright relations
with 24 new countries and will secure the highest available level of
international copyright protection for U.S. artists, authors, and
copyright holders. This is especially significant because American works
protected by copyright -- books, recordings, movies, computer software
prominent among them -- have been at risk because of differences between U.S. law and the Berne convention.
cost to Americans has been substantial, not only in terms of the violation of
the property rights of Americans but in terms of our trade balance as well.
We've been running a trade surplus of over $1 billion annually in copyrighted
goods, and it would have been much larger had it not been for the pirating of
American copyright work. In 1986 alone, the entertainment industry may have
lost more than $2 billion in potential revenue, and our computer and software
industries more than $4 billion in potential revenue. That's why adherence to
the Berne convention has been
such an important goal of the administration and why this occasion marks a
watershed for us.
Ambassador Clayton Yeutter has said, joining the Berne convention will also
boost U.S. efforts to strengthen
intellectual property protection in multilateral negotiations. In 1986 we
succeeded in placing the issue on the agenda of the Uruguay round of multilateral
trade negotiations and committed the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to
address the relationship between trade and intellectual property rights. When
trade ministers meet in Montreal in December for the
midterm review of the Uruguay round, they must direct
negotiators to commence substantive negotiations.
in our administration worked closely with many key Members of Congress, such as
Senator Pete Wilson and Congressman Carlos Moorhead, to get this bill passed in
Congress. And we must also remember our good friend and former Secretary of
Commerce, the late Malcolm Baldrige, who led the
charge on this legislation.
now, with great pleasure and great pride, I will sign the Berne Convention
Implementation Act into law.
Note: The President
spoke at 10:58 a.m. in the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel
in Los Angeles, CA. H.R. 4262, approved October 31, was assigned Public Law No.
100 - 568.