The table below includes the 60 most populous nations on the globe, which encompass nearly 90% of the world’s population.
Of these, 27 have copyright terms of 50 years “post mortem auctoris” (pma); 17 have terms of 70 pma; 2 each have terms of 30 pma, 60 pma, 80 pma, or apparently do not have copyright laws; 2 countries have terms in excess of 95 years pma; of the remaining six countries, all are either signatories to the Berne Convention, or are a member of the WTO, each of which specify a minimum term of 50 pma.
The 60 nations may be categorised – not in any real sense neatly – into 8 different term lengths which are given horizontally; countries are sorted vertically by population from China down to Chile, and the number in each cell is the percentage of the world’s total population.
The table may be arbitrarily resorted according to one of the columns, by clicking on any of the arrow icons in the first row of the table.
|Rank||Country||50 pma||70 pma||0 years||30 pma||60 pma||80 pma||99–100 pma||Berne/WTO|
|1||People's Republic of China||19.69%|
|21||Democratic Republic of the Congo||0.93%|
|Total||(Scaled to 100%)||46.77%||22.333%||1.76%||1.54%||19.42%||1.5%||2.09%||4.59%|
|Nº of countries||27||17||2||2||2||2||2||6|
There are some anomalies which I should take account of, since they stem from the fact that despite efforts to “harmonise” international copyright law, at the national level no such parity really exists. The USA is the exemplar of this, with the various amendments to the US law resulting in slightly different status for works published before 1923, 1964, and 1978, so that copyright is more often simply 95 years from publication, before the 70 pma term was made law.
Other of the countries listed have recently changed, or are changing, their copyright terms:
It is also worth noting that many of the nations now with 70 pma terms only adopted them or changed them since 1990, for example, Brazil (1998), Nigeria (1990), Russia (2004), Germany (1995), Italy (19??), Ukraine (2001), Argentina (1997), Peru (1996), Ghana (2005), Romania (1996), Mozambique (2001), and Australia (2005).
Anyway, it is clear that the 27 countries with 50 pma copyright terms and comprising 42% of the world’s population are close to representing a majority in numeric and population terms: including the the six countries that comply with Berne’s minimum term, the 33 countries do form the majority, as well as being close to an absolute one in terms of the world’s population. The nations with no copyright, or terms other than 50 or 70 years pma, are very much a minority with the exception of India with its curious 60 pma term. The 17 countries with 70 pma copyright terms represent only one person in five, probably closer to a quarter when including the remaining 10% of the world’s population.