Copyright Protection of Writers and Publishers under Bangladeshi Law

‘Ekushey BoiMela’ the largest gathering of readers and writers is ongoing. This event holds the hard effort and deep emotions of the contributors, it also involves economic concerns of the investor but what would happen if someone just copy their hard effort?  Therefore, let’s discuss about the rights of a writer over his creative work and how that is protected by Bangladeshi Copyright Law.

In Bangladesh, the law which protects the right of a writer is Copyright Act of 2000. Copyright, according to Oxford English Dictionary,  ‘is the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed several years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material’. Copyright is a bundle of rights guaranteed to the original author for their literary, artistic or dramatic work, such as books, articles, paintings, photographs, musical compositions, recordings, computer programs etc. This protection is available ‘automatically’ to the work as soon as it comes into existence and it does not depend on any formality, like registration. Here, we’ll discuss about the rights guaranteed by law for literary works only.

Book-Copyright-Boimela

Ekushey Book Fair 2018 Dhaka, Bangladesh | Source of the image not found

Introducing literary works:

For the purpose of understanding copyright, the term “literary works” needs to be understood first. Literary work is not limited to the works of literature only, but it includes all expressions of ideas that have been expressed in printing. Protection of copyright does not depend on whether they have any literary merit or not. It is based on the general principle that ‘what is worth copying is prima facie worth of protecting’. According to section 2(46) of the Copyright Act of 2000; literary work includes works on humanity, religion, social, scientific and any work written, composed, translated, converted, adopted, creative, research, factual and shall also include computer programs, tables and creative compilations including computer databases.

Rights guaranteed for the literary work:

According to section 14(1) of the Copyright Act, the author of a literary work shall enjoy the rights

  1. to reproduce the work in any material from, including the storing of it, in any medium by electronic means ,
  2. to issue copies of the work to the  public not being copies already in circulation,
  3. to perform or communicate it to the public,
  4. to make any cinematograph  film or sound recording in respect of the work,
  5. to make any translation of the work,
  6. to make any adoption or reproduction of the work,
  7. to reproduce any translated or adapted work in any material from, including the storing of it, in any medium by electronic means,
  8. to make any cinematograph film or sound recording in respect of the translated or adapted work.

Requirements to get copyright protection:

Copyright is basically the right to respect the author’s creation because an original work is the brain-child of the author. Before claiming copyright the work apart from being original, should satisfy the following conditions:

  1. a)      In the case of published work, it has to be published first in Bangladesh but if it is first published in foreign country, the author must be a citizen of Bangladesh or domicile in Bangladesh at the date of publication, or where the author is dead at the time of publication and the work is published after his death, the author must be citizen of Bangladesh or domicile in Bangladesh at the time of his death. [section 5]

[It is important to note that if any work is published in Bangladesh and any other country simultaneously, the work should be considered to be first published in Bangladesh. The work shall be considered to be simultaneously published if the difference of days between the publication in Bangladesh and publication in any other country more than 30 days or the time fixed by the Government.]

  1. b)      In case of unpublished work, the author is on the date of making of the work a citizen of Bangladesh or domicile in Bangladesh. [section 7]

Term of copyright:

Copyright does not continue indefinitely. The law provides for a period of time, a duration, during which the rights of the copyright owner exist and at that time, the owner can exclusively enjoy the right. The duration begins with the creation of the work. According to section 24, the term of copyright for published literary work shall subsist within the lifetime of the author until sixty years from the beginning of the calendar year next following year in which the author dies. [Explanation: In this section, the reference to the author shall, in the case of a work of joint authorship, be construed as a reference to the author who dies last.]

However, after the expiry of the period, no copyright subsists and the work goes in the public domain; afterwards no reproduction of the work constitutes copyright infringement.

Rights of the publisher:

According to section 38 of the act, The publisher of an edition of a work shall enjoy the right to authorize the making, by any photographic or similar process, of copies, intended for sale in commerce, of the typographical arrangement of the edition, and such right shall subsist until twenty five years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the edition was first published.

 

 Piracy or infringement of copyright:  

Generally, piracy means the commercial exploitation of any work without the authorization of its author which infringes the exclusive rights protected by law. Section 71 defines the copyright infringement, which indicates that a person may commit infringement by doing any of the acts without any authorization of the author, viz.

  • reproducing the work in any material form,
  • making adaption or translation of the work,
  • publishing the work,
  • selling or distributing the work,
  • performing the work,
  • importing any infringing copy into Bangladesh.

But in case of literary works, the following acts will not constitute infringement, if the work is used for-

  • private purpose including research, review and criticism,
  • reporting in a newspaper or broadcasting media,
  • reproduction of the work for the purpose of a judicial proceeding,
  • reading or recitation in public,
  • the making of not more than 3 copies of a book by or under the  direction of the person in charge of a public library for the use of the library, if such book is not available for sale in Bangladesh.

Remedy against the infringement:

If the rights (economic and moral both) of an author or publisher is infringed, they can seek 3 types of remedy i.e. civil, criminal & administrative which are described under section 75 to section 97.

  • Civil remedy means to obtain an injunction, or damages which is provided in section 76(1) and the suit shall be dealt with Code of Civil Procedure, 1908
  • Criminal remedy implies to initiate criminal proceeding against a person who has committed an offense under this act. Section 82-93 has categorized some offenses related to violation of copyright and such a case will be conducted by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898.
  • Administrative remedy means to seek remedy from the register of copyright to ban the infringed copies under section 74.

In fine, economic and social development depends on creativity. We should respect the amount of hard work, labor and creativity that is needed to produce an original literary work. Every citizen should have the awareness and basic notion of copyright. Proper protection of copyright will encourage the writers and publishers to produce more literary works which will help us to be a civilized nation.

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Aparajita Debnath

Aparajita Debnath, currently studying in the department of law in Jagannath University. I choose law because a career in the legal profession can be intellectually challenging, personally fulfilling and financially rewarding, and also the legal profession has long been regarded as a noble and elite profession. I want to serve the society and render justice to the victims. However, I am an avid reader and regularly participate in many legal workshops and seminars. My interests are varied and include constitutional law, human rights law, personal laws and business law.

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