Canada: Comment indique-t-on le « copyright »?

Pour indiquer que quelque chose est protégé par droit d'auteur, plusieurs apposent une mention comme celle-ci : « Copyright © 2014 Entreprise XYZ».

Malheureusement pour l'Entreprise XYZ, cet avis de droit d'auteur est erroné et, dans sa forme bancale, n'a probablement pas de valeur juridique.

Rappelons d'abord que le Canada est depuis longtemps signataire de la Convention de l'Union de Berne et que, en vertu de cette Convention, «la jouissance et l'exercice [des droits d'auteur] ne sont subordonnés à aucune formalité.» (Article 5 (2) de la Convention). Donc, pour qu'une Suvre soit protégée par droit d'auteur dans tous les pays membres de l'Union de Berne, on n'a pas besoin d'apposer une mention, ce qui serait accomplir une formalité. S'il existe encore un pays qui ne serait pas membre de l'Union, je ne sais pas sur quel continent il se trouve et je soupçonne que, n'en ayant jamais entendu parler, je ne saurais pas comment écrire son nom. Bref, la Convention de Berne prévaut dans tout le monde utile.

Alors, d'où viennent ces «copyright notices», ces avis de droit d'auteur que l'on continue de voir partout?

La Convention Universelle sur le Droit d'Auteur (adoptée à Genève en 1952) établit à son article 3 que, dans les pays où des formalités sont exigées pour que le droit d'auteur existe ou soit exercé (par exemple: enregistrement des droits, dépôt à la Bibliothèque nationale, inscription à des registres, paiement de taxes, etc...), ces formalités sont présumées accomplies quand chaque exemplaire de l'Suvre porte la mention constituée des trois éléments suivants, dans l'ordre que voici: le symbole ©, le nom du propriétaire des droits, l'année de la première publication. Donc, si l'on suit les directives de l'article 3 de la Convention Universelle, l'avis de droit d'auteur devrait se lire comme suit: © Entreprise XYZ 2014.

Notons tout de suite que, dans l'avis « Copyright © 2014 Entreprise XYZ », l'ordre des éléments est inversé et le mot « copyright » n'a pas sa place. On pourrait donc prétendre qu'il ne s'agit pas de l'avis requis par la Convention Universelle et, par voie de conséquence, qu'un tel mauvais avis ne produit aucun effet juridique.

Cela dit, l'avis de la Convention Universelle avait été élaboré dans un contexte où les États-Unis exigeaient l'accomplissement de certaines formalités (enregistrement des droits et dépôt à la Library of Congress) pour que le droit d'auteur des étrangers soit reconnu aux USA. À l'époque, si on n'était pas américain, il était intéressant d'apposer l'avis de droit d'auteur de la Convention Universelle parce que les formalités exigées par le Copyright Act américain étaient présumées accomplies. Mais les États-Unis ont depuis longtemps rejoint les rangs des signataires de la Convention de Berne qui interdit que l'existence et la jouissance du droit d'auteur soient subordonnés à l'accomplissement de formalités. En ce qui concerne la protection des étrangers aux USA, l'avis instauré par la Convention Universelle est donc devenu sans objet. Comme je l'ai dit plus haut, je ne connais pas d'autre pays d'importance qui exigerait l'accomplissement de formalités et où l'avis de droit d'auteur de la Convention Universelle serait une mesure efficace de protection.

Il faut donc considérer que cette notice de la Convention Universelle n'est aujourd'hui intéressante que comme outil de relations publiques. Elle avise le public que l'Entreprise XYZ a l'intention de revendiquer ses droits d'auteur. Il n'est donc pas déconseillé de l'utiliser à cette fin, mais il est sûrement plus approprié d'utiliser au moins la notice conventionnelle (c'est-à-dire celle de la Convention) qui, elle, a théoriquement une portée juridique.

Alors, résumons-nous : le bon avis de droit d'auteur, pour autant qu'on en ait besoin, c'est le symbole ©, immédiatement suivi du nom du propriétaire des droits, immédiatement suivi de l'année de la première publication. Les trois éléments dans cet ordre et le tout sans ponctuation. Et on oublie le mot «copyright».

© Claude Brunet 2014

Tous droits réservés

P.-S. : Tous droits réservés? J'ai écrit «Tous droits réservés»? Vous voulez savoir ce que ça signifie? Rendez-vous à une prochaine chronique.

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