What is copyright?
Copyright aims at providing protection to authors (writers, artists, music composers, etc.) on their creations. Such creations are usually designated as“works”.
What is covered by copyright?
Works covered by copyright include, but are not limited to, literary works such as novels, poems and plays; reference works such as encyclopedias and dictionaries; databases; newspaper articles; films and TV programs; musical compositions; choreography; artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures; architecture; and advertisements, maps and technical drawings.Copyright also protects computer programs.Copyright does not however extend to ideas, but only to the expression of thoughts. For example, the idea of taking a picture of a sunset is not protected by copyright. Therefore, anyone may take such a picture. But a particular picture of a sunset taken by a photographer may be protected by copyright. In such a case, if someone else makes copies of the photograph, and starts selling them without the consent of the photographer, that person would be violating the photographer’s
Do you need to accomplish any formalities in order to be protected?
Copyright protection is obtained automatically without any need for registration or other formalities. A work enjoys protection by copyright as soon as it is created.However, many countries provide for a national system of optional registration and deposit of works. These systems facilitate, for example, questions involving disputes over ownership or creation, financing transactions, sales, assignments and
transfers of rights.
What types of rights does copyright provide?
There are two types of rights under copyright:
(a) Economic rights, which allow the owner to derive financial reward
from the use and exploitation of the work; and
(b) Moral rights, which highlight the personal link existing between the
author and the work.
What are the economic rights covered by copyright?
Under economic rights, the creators of a work can use their work as they see fit.They can also authorize or prohibit the following acts- in relation to a work:
- reproduction in various forms, for example in a printed publication or by
recording the work in cassettes, compact disks or videodiscs, or by storing
it in computer memories;
- distribution, for example through sale to the public of copies of the work;
- public performance, for example by performing music during a concert,
or a play on stage;
- broadcasting and communication to the public, by radio or T.V, cable
- translation into other languages;
- adaptation, for example by converting a novel or a play into a screenplay
for a film;
What rights do moral rights cover?
Under moral rights, the author may claim:
- the right to have authorship recognized on the work. That is basically
the right of the creator to have his or her name mentioned as the author, in
particular when the work is used.
- the right to integrity of the work, that is the right to object to the work
being modified, or being used in contexts that may cause harm to the
reputation or honor of the author.
How are economic rights exploited?
Many creative works protected by copyright require financial investment and professional skills for their production and further dissemination and mass distribution. Activities such as book publishing, sound recording or film producing are usually undertaken by specialized business organizations or companies, and not directly by the authors. Usually, authors and creators transfer their rights to these companies by way of contractual agreements, in return for compensation. The compensation may take different forms, such as lump sum payments, or royalties based on a percentage of revenues generated by the work.
Many authors do not have the ability or the means to manage their rights themselves. They often resort to collective management organizations or societies which provide for their members, the benefits of the organization’s administrative and legal expertise and efficiency in collecting, managing and disbursing royalties. These royalties are obtained from the national and international use of a member’s work on
a large scale, by, for example, broadcasting organizations, discotheques, restaurants, libraries, universities and schools.
Why protect copyright?
Copyright contributes to human creativity by giving creators incentives in the form of recognition and fair economic rewards. Under this system of rights, creators are assured that their works can be disseminated without fear of unauthorized copying or piracy. This in turn helps increase access to the works and enhances the enjoyment of culture, knowledge, and entertainment all over the world.