So what is copyright?
- reproduction in any material form;
- communication to the public;
- performance, showing or playing to the public;
- distribution of copies to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership; and commercial rental to the public
CATEGORIES AND ELIGIBILITY OF COPYRIGHT WORK
Generally, copyright work can be categorised into the following:-
- Literary works, eg. books, articles, video, music
- Artistic works, eg. painting, graphic works, photographs
- Musical works
- Sound recordings
- Derivative works
Duration of protection vary according to the works. For literary, artistic and musical works, the duration of copyright is the life of author plus 50 years after the death of author.
In order for a literary, musical or artistic work to be eligible for copyright protection, the following criteria must be satisfied:-
- Sufficient effort must has been expended to make the work original in character; and
- The work has been written down, recorded or otherwise reduced to material form.
As long as the above criteria have been met, the works shall be protected irrespective of their quality and the purpose for which they were created
HOW TO PROTECT MY COPYRIGHT?
Unlike trade mark, patent and design, it is not necessary for copyright to go through stringent examination process to be eligible for protection. Some countries merely require the work to be first published while some other countries (for example, Malaysia) provide a simple voluntary notification / registration process to record the ownership of the work.
PROTECTION OF IDEA?
Can an idea be protected under Copyright? The general principle under copyright is that it protects the expression and not the underlying idea or concept. For example, an author may write a novel about an adventure to MARS. The author does not have a monopoly over the idea of adventure to Mars. However, his expression (eg. writing) is protected. Accordingly, any person is at liberty to use the idea of adventure to Mars to write another novel provided he does not copy the expression of the earlier author.
OWNERSHIP OF COPYRIGHT - AUTHOR OR OWNER?
Generally there is a difference between authorship and ownership. Author refers to the creator or originator of the work. On the other hand, owner is the person who owns and entitled to control the copyright works. Under usual circumstances, copyright shall vest initially in the author. However, where a work is commissioned under a contract; or is made in the course of the author’s employment, the copyright shall be deemed to be transferred to the person who commissioned the work or the author’s employer, respectively.
INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT PROTECTION
Unlike other forms of IP, not all countries require registration of copyright in order to be entitled for protection. For example, under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, an author shall enjoy the same copyright protection in foreign country (member state to the Berne Convention) as accorded to the citizens of the said country. Currently, there are 168 contracting states to the Berne Convention.
As a summary, a copyright author or owner should understand his rights for his creation before beginning exploiting his IP. It is advisable to register a work under a copyright registration system of a country (if available) in order to safeguard his rights effectively.
Registered Trade Mark, Patent & Industrial Design Agent
The information above is for general understanding only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Readers are advised to consult with the appropriate legal advisors in the respective jurisdiction