The Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988 is a copyright act that came into force in the United States on March 1, 1989, making it a party to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
At the same time, U.S. copyright experts seemed to acknowledge that the United States' approach to international copyright relations was flawed. For example, Barbara Ringer, a leading U.S. copyright official, remarked that until around 1955, the United States' "role in international copyright was marked by short-sightedness, political isolationism, and narrow economic self-interest".
H. Sandison writes: "The roots of American isolationism [are from the 1790 Copyright Act which protected books] only if their authors were citizens or residents of the United States". Ringer observed that this meant U.S. publishers could pirate the works of English authors like Charles Dickens and publish them cheaper in the new nation than U.S. authors could be published. This hurt the market for American books for 100 years and was only partly remedied in 1891, when the United States passed a limited international copyright law. Although the United States was not alone in denying copyright protection to nonresident foreigners, by waiting until 1988 to join the Berne Convention, the United States was one of the last industrial countries to join.
By ratifying the Berne Convention, the United States Congress signaled that it was taking a "minimalist approach to compliance" (emphasis original). Indeed, regarding both moral rights and formalities, the Implementation Act was limited; in short, the "major concession was that the United States finally, reluctantly, did away with copyright formalities". Furthermore, some copyright formalities, like requiring that a copy of the work be "deposited" at the Library of Congress, were preserved.