What is a copyright ?

Copyright in Malaysia: Copyright protects creative works that are original in nature. It protects the expression of an idea and not the underlying idea of a work. Section 7(2A) of the Copyright Act 1987 (“the Act”) specifically provides that copyright protection shall not extend to any idea, procedure, method of operation or mathematical concept as such.

More info on copyright

Under the Act, copyright protection is automatic without the need for any form of registration upon the creation of a work. You need to fulfil certain requirements (i.e. originality, sufficient effort and reduced into material form) in order to obtain copyright protection. The types of work entitled to copyright protection are literary works, musical works, artistic works, films, sound recordings and etc.

Although copyright subsists automatically without any formal registration, an eligible person may still voluntarily notify the Registrar of the existence of a copyright work (section 26A of the Act). To do that, an applicant will have to file a copy of his copyright work with the Registrar. Once the copyright work has been recorded with the Registrar, the Registrar will issue an official certificate and such certificate is considered (good) prima facie evidence to prove his ownership of the copyright work and support any copyright infringement cases.

Generally, the author of a copyright work is the person who creates the work. For example, the writer of a book is the author, an artist who painted a painting is the author and a composer of a music is the author. Usually, the author of a work is also the copyright owner of the same work. The exceptions would be when the work was created in the course of employment or was the result of a commissioned work. In such situation, the owner would be the employer or the commissioner.

An author may decide to exploit the work by assigning the copyright in the work to another person, usually for some financial consideration. When that happens, the author relinquishes his economic rights over the work under copyright law. The new copyright owner will then enjoy the exclusive rights which are granted under the Act.

Copyright Protection

Copyright owner has the exclusive right to control the following acts with respect to literary, musical or artistic works, films, sound recordings and derivative works (section 13 of the Act):

A person who is not the copyright owner and who does any of the above acts, without permission from the copyright owner, commits a copyright infringement.

Copyright In Our Daily Lives

Duration of copyright

For literary, musical or artistic works, copyright shall subsist during the life of the author plus 50 years after his death.

For film, sound recordings and performance, copyright shall subsist for 50 years computed from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which they are first published / performed.