In today’s posting we discuss the issue of copyright and give a basic understanding of it — and then close by showing how it is useful in your wealth creation strategies.
Copyright relates to artistic creations, such as poems, novels, music, paintings, and cinematographic works. Also known as author’s rights. The expression copyright refers to the main act which, in respect of literary and artistic creations, may be made only by the author or with his authorization. That act is the making of copies of the literary or artistic work, such as a book, a painting, a sculpture, a photograph, or a motion picture. Copyrights imply that the author has certain specific rights in his creation, such as the right to prevent a distorted reproduction, which only he can exercise, whereas other rights, such as the right to make copies, can be exercised by other persons, for example, a publisher who has obtained a license to this effect from the author. The rights include the right to derive commercial benefit or mane wealth through his creation. This right can be delegated through licencing.
Copyright law protects only the form of expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves. The creativity protected by copyright law is creativity in the choice and arrangement of words, musical notes, colors and shapes. So copyright law protects the owner of property rights against those who copy or otherwise take and use the form in which the original work was expressed by the author.
For a work to be considered for copyright it should be original in nature and should be in a fixed form e.g. a recording as in sound recording, computer disc or printed form. The work should meets the requisite degree of originality. A work is original if adequate skill, labour and judgment is expended on creating it.
Rights Granted by Copyright
Copyright grants certain rights that are initially exclusive to its owner. Based on these rights, the copyright owner, subject to copyright law exceptions, controls who may
(a) copy the work
(b) issue copies of the work to the public
(c) rent or lend the work to the public
(d) perform, show or play the work in public
(e) communicate the work to the public – this includes broadcasting of a work and also electronic transmission and
(f) make an adaptation of the work or do any of the above in relation to an adaptation
Copyright protection allows the creator of the work to generate income through his creation and acts as a tool in taking action against infringers. Most Zimbabwean musicians lost revenue through infringements until recently when the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (ZIMRA) was formed to protect the interest of musicians and to collect royalties from airplay.
Enforcement of Copyright
Copyright is essentially a private right and the copyright owner can avail of considerable rights and remedies to protect copyright in a work and can pursue a civil action against the alleged infringer.
By application to the courts the copyright owner can:
stop a person making further infringing use of the material by seeking an injunction, interdict or other order
claim damages from those who infringe their copyright
compel the infringing party to give up or destroy the infringing.
Additional remedies are available for infringement on a commercial scale. Deliberate infringement of copyright on a commercial scale may be a criminal offence. This activity is usually known as copyright piracy and is often linked to wilful infringement of trade marks known as counterfeiting where criminal offences also exist. Piracy and counterfeiting are therefore often also referred to as intellectual property or IP crime.
The purpose of copyright is to ensure that the creator of a certain piece of work can derive economic benefit from his work. If your source of income is not protectable then you lose value. Revenue can be made by exploiting your creation for commercial purposes as well as by claiming damages from those who would infringe on your rights. One can cede the rights to publish and market their product in exchange for royalties. A publishing house can market your book under licence and pay you royalties. Other artists can record your music and make it popular while paying you a royalty for use.
In Zimbabwe one can check on the copyright or related Intellectual property rights from ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Office) based in Harare and internationally one can check the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO). There are various other intellectual property registrations offices which maybe national or regional. One should look for one registration that covers a bigger territory for maximum protection. Some of the information presented here was sourced from the www.wipo.int . They provide free soft copy documents on the basics of Intellectual Property.
In the next posting we proceed to talk of patents and their usefulness. Stay tuned.