Not exactly. There is ulimately "some" form of tanglible proof necessary. It is hard to proof that one thought of a concept before someone else did, so there should be something more substantial to support such a claim.However, Article 2(2) of the Berne Convention (1979 version) says:
"2 (2) It shall, however, be a matter for legislation in the countries of the Union to prescribe that works in general or any specified categories of works shall not be protected unless they have been fixed in some material form."
I gather, from your comments that, while the U.S apparently has exercised its prerogative under Article 2(2) of the Convention, most European signatories have not - is that your understanding?Doug
Think of e.g. someone giving a very good speech. It would be hard to prove he/she was the first, unless a sufficient number of wittnesses can be summoned, or(!) an audio recording has been made (much easier, but a timestamp will help).
BTW if a ghostwriter was used to prepare the speech, the copyright is still with the person who commissioned the task. The same as when one asks someone else to make a print. The copyright remains with the intellectual property holder, which automatically also means that a lab cannot be held responsible for making the copy, even if the copyright belongs to someone completely different than the parties involved. Similar to an opera singer performing a copyrighted opera, the copyright remains with the writer of the opera, although the performer in turn can copyright his/her interpretation and performance (act) based on such a piece (not the music score and words, but the performance itself).
Depending on local law (and because IANAL ;-)), according to my information it is not necessary (unlike in the US) to register such a speech/object/whatever before having to go to court and expect to receive full compensation. The judge will judge based on the proof as presented to him/her, and if one can present good enough proof, well, then that is apparently good enough and the same kind of damages can be claimed as anyone else would have given similar offences.