The UCC, as it is known, was drafted at the initiative of the then-Soviet Union (USSR) who, along with some like-minded Central and South American states, felt that the copyright term of the life of the author + 50 year, as set out in the Berne Convention, was designed to advantage economically strong countries, to the disadvantage of those not.

The United Nations agreed to host discussions under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The main difference between the Berne Convention and the UCC: the copyright term of the UCC is life of the author + 25 years.

The Universal Copyright Convention was issued in September of 1952 and revised in Paris in 1971. To-date, the 1952 version has 100 signatories including Russia, China, the United States and Canada. The 1971 version has 62 signatories including the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia and China as of May 2009, but does not include, notably, Canada.

Many states are signatories to both treaties. With the advent of international trade and the World Trade Organization, the UCC has lost much of its legal significance.

Further, the Berne Convention is now far more attractive as it has been the recipient of a digital document add-on called the WIPO Copyright Treaty (1996) which extends, for those countries that wish to subscribe, and are already adherents to the 1971 version of the Berne Convention, copyright extension to computer programs and digitized documents.