Introduction to Copyright

Copyright
(Image credits: PungoM)

Copyright is a right granted by the state for creators of original qualifying works to prevent others from carrying out certain activities in relation to these works. Copyright does not protect the idea behind created works, but the expression of that idea in the work.

In the United Kingdom Copyright is regulated by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. In Oman, copyright is regulated by the Copyright Law 65/2008. The UK and Oman are both members of the Berne Convention, which grants requires members to grant copyright protection automatically upon the creation of the work without requiring the author to fulfill any formalities such as registration or deposit. Almost all countries in the world are members of the Berne Convention. Any work created in any of these members or by a national of any of these members will have his work protected in all other member states.

This means that ANY thing you create, like writing a blog post or taking a photograph using your mobile phone is protected by copyright. The period for copyright protection for most works extends for the life of the author plus 70 years after his death.

Copyright is NOT grant the author an absolute monopoly over the use of copyright work. It only regulates a number of activities related to the work, in the UK, these include copying (whether in whole or in substantial amount), issuing copies, performing in public, broadcasting, making adaptations (including translation), and renting out certain works such as computer programs, films, and sound recordings. Carrying out any of the activities cannot be legitimately done without acquiring the conset of the copyright owner. Though originally meant to be an exhaustive list of activities, as we consume today most of our media electornically, any use of digital works requires creating a copy of the work temporary or permenantly on the computer to process and consume that work. However, the law provides an exception for using digital media to allow users to copy works on their computer as long as they do it to be able to carry out the intended use of the copyright work.

A further limitation to the control of the author of his work is imposed through a number of limitations for permitted uses provided for in the law. In the UK these include fair dealing for purposes of research and private study; and fair dealing for the purposes of criticism, review, and news reporting (provided that sufficient acknowledgement of the work is made); incidental inclusion of the work in others; activities done for instruction or examination; the creation of anthologies for educational use; playing, showing or performing in an educational establishment; recording of broadcasts by educational establishments; reprographic copying that does not exceed 1% of the work; copying by libraries and archives for purposes of preservation;  copying for purposes of public administration (e.g. by courts); and a number of lawful uses of computer programs and databases.

The existence of copyright law is justified on a number of ethical and economic grounds. Many believe that ethically an author of any work has a natural right or a human right over the product of his labour. Economically, it is a believed that the grant of this protection operates an incentive which is capable of driving people to create more. It is also essential to have copyright to protect the investment made in the creation of works that couldn’t be funded if it wasn’t for the ability to have these works exclusively exhausted through the protection of copyright (competitors easily copy-market failure?). It is also believed that it is fair to reward authors for the effort they expended in creating a work and then giving it to the public.

One thought on “Introduction to Copyright”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *