Ownership & Commercialisation

In general, the person who created the work (i.e. the author) owns the copyright in the work.

However, there are three situations where this general rule is not applied. i.e. where the creator of the work, by default, is not the first owner of the copyright.

Employees

If you created the works during employment, your employer will automatically own the work. This applies to all employees, except for journalists.


Journalists

If you created the works while employed as a journalist by a newspaper, magazine or other periodical, and the work is created for the publication in these mediums, your employer will automatically have the right to publish and reproduce these works in publications.

However, you, as the journalist, still have the right to publish the work for other purposes such as collation into a book.


Some commissioned works

If you were paid under an agreement, for the creation of portrait, photograph or engraving, the person who commissioned or paid for the creation of these works will automatically own the copyright in those works. In short, the person who paid to create certain types of work would be the copyright owner.For all other types of works, ownership belongs to the commissioned party.



Rights of a copyright owner

As a copyright owner, you have certain exclusive rights to control the use and commercial exploitation of your copyright works.

Literary, dramatic, musical works

Authors enjoy the exclusive rights to:

  • reproduce it
  • publish it
  • perform it in public
  • communicate it to the public 
  • make an adaptation of it 

Artistic works

Artistis enjoy the exclusive rights to:

  • reproduce it
  • publish it
  • communicate it to the public 

Published editions of literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works

The publisher has the exclusive rights to:

  • make a reproduction of the edition.  

Sound recordings

The producer of a sound recording enjoys the exclusive rights to:

  • make a copy of it
  • rent it
  • publish it
  • make it available to the public by means of as part of a digital audio transmission

Films

The producer of a film enjoys the exclusive rights to:

  • make a copy of it
  • screen it in public
  • communicate it to the public 

Television and radio broadcasts

The broadcaster enjoys the exclusive rights to:

  • make a recording of it 
  • rebroadcast it
  • communicate it to the public 
  • broadcast it to be seen or heard by a paying audience

Cable programmes

The producer enjoys the exclusive rights to:

  • make a recording of it
  • communicate it to the public 
  • screen it to be seen by a paying audience

Performances

The performer has the right to authorise the performance for the following uses:

  • allow it to be seen and/or heard live in public
  • make a direct or indirect sound recording 
  • make it available to the public


Copyright, like real estate, can be sold or leased. Selling your copyright means transferring/assigning your ownership of the copyright to a third party. Leasing your copyright means licensing a third party specific uses of the copyright protected work. The transfer/assignment or licensing of copyright is usually carried out by a written contract together with payment of fees.

Assignment and licensing of the copyright can generate revenue streams for the copyright holder.

As a copyright owner, bear these in mind when choosing between an assignment and a license:

  Assignment License
Do I retain ownership of the copyright?  No

Ownership of the copyright is completely transferred to a new owner.
Yes
Do I have full control over the copyright?  No Yes
Is my permission still required should third parties request to use my copyright? No Yes

The third party licensee will only have the right to use the copyright as set out in the license.
Can I charge third parties a fee for using my copyright?  Yes  Yes

Considerations for assignment and licensing of copyright work to others

We recommend having a written contract to document the assignment or licence. The contract is to be signed by you and the other party, and should set out the nature and scope of the rights granted, and the rights and obligations of each party.

Here are some considerations when preparing the contract:


Assignment contract

Assignment Contract


Licensing contract

Licensing Contract

Before using any copyright work that belongs to a third party, you should always get copyright owner’s permission. This way, you can avoid the risk of copyright infringement.

Infringement occurs when you have not obtained the consent of the copyright owner to do something that only the copyright owner has the right to do. For example, making a photocopy of a textbook without the consent of the publisher.

To obtain consent from copyright owners, you may:

  1. contact the copyright owner directly and negotiate for a licence to use the copyright material; or
  2. obtain a licence through a Collective Management Organisations.

Alternatively, you may use the materials found on Creative Commons (CC) without the need to further seek explicit permission from the owner, so long as the use conforms to the licence attributes.

Using or copying materials from the internet

Do not assume that whatever is posted on the internet is fair game for copying.

Before you copy or use any material available on the internet, always check if the website has terms and conditions governing use of content on the website. A link to the terms and conditions can usually be found at the foot of the homepage. Else, try to identify the website owner and write to them for permission.

When permission to use copyright work is not required

There are exceptions to copyright protection which provides limited circumstances where you can use copyright works without seeking permission from the copyright owner. These exceptions are set out for the use of works for specific users (eg. school and libraries etc.) or for specific reasons (eg. research and reporting of current events).

Fair Dealing

General fair dealing

There are some factors (non-exhaustive) that are taken into account when deciding whether copying in a certain situation is a ‘fair-dealing’:

  1. The purpose and nature of the dealing, including whether such dealing is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the work
  3. The amount and significance of the work copied, in relation to the whole ;
  4. The effect of the dealing upon the potential or value of the work
  5. The possibility of obtaining the work within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price

If you copy works for a specific purpose of research and study, it is considered fair dealing so long copying limits are observed. For a published work of at least 10 pages, the copying limit is 10% of the total number of or one chapter of the work, whichever is greater.


Specific Fair Dealing Defences

There are also specific fair dealing scenarios where use of a work would not constitute infringement:

  1. Fair dealing for purpose of criticism or review
    Where the work is used for the purpose of criticism or review, of that work or another work, and is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement of the work
  2. Fair dealing for purpose of reporting current events
    Where the work is used for the purpose of reporting current events in newspapers, magazines or periodicals and is accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement of the work.

Exceptions for Educational Institutions

If you are from an educational institution, you can make copies of, or to communicate a copyright work within certain limits for educational purposes. The copying or communication of works is certain record keeping requirements and the requirement to pay equitable remuneration.



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