I am trying to find films that would have entered the public domain in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan before they joined the WTO but need to know the rules of each country to determine if the films are public domain and can't be restored under GATT.
Can someone provide that information?
The following link shows when each member state joined the WTO: http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/org6_e.htm. However, the TRIPS agreement, the WTO's IP agreement, only provides minimum IP protection standards that WTO member states have to adopt, meaning WTO member states might have copyright protection terms beyond TRIPS' minimum requirements. As a result, you need to look at each country's copyright laws to determine whether Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan established copyright terms beyond TRIPS' minimum requirements. WIPO lex is a good resource for national copyright legislation that indicates their copyright terms at: http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/index.jsp?tab=1.
An important issue you did not address is that you will not likely find who owns rights to such films, which impacts whether the films are in the public domain. Although you can find when such films were published/released, you will likely not be able to easily find whether rights in such films reside with a person or business entity, both of which have different copyright protection terms under most national copyright laws.
Working with a qualified IP attorney can help you to evaluate whether particular films are in the public domain. Good luck!
This response is only general information and is not legal advice. It does not form an attorney-client relationship and should not be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. You should seek a qualified attorney before taking any action related to your inquiry.
You should consult with an entertainment attorney who can assist not only with your question but clearing rights as well if the content is not public domain. Do a search in Avvo.com for one.
If you need reliable information then get guidance from your Intellectual Property attorney. You'll expect to make business decisions based on what you learn. Don't rely on the answers found on AVVO. Go to your own attorney.
My comments have been made without discussion. An attorney client relationship has not been established. There may be conflicts which prohibit my providing you with specific legal guidance. Any contact with you beyond these few general words will start with a disclosure of opposing parties so that a conflict check can be made. You should discuss with an attorney.
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