General Information

Copyright Voluntary Notification System
Licensing Body
Copyright Tribunal
 

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is the exclusive right given to the owner of a copyright for a specific period. Copyright protection in Malaysia is governed by the Copyright Act 1987. There is no system of registration for copyright in Malaysia.

A work that is eligible is protected automatically upon fulfillment of the following conditions:- 

  • sufficient effort has been expected to make the work original in character;
  • the work has been written down, recorded or reduced to a material form; 
  • the author is qualified person or the work is made in Malaysia or the workis first published in Malaysia

What Does Copyright Protect?

Works eligible for protection are;

  • literary works;
  • musical works;
  • artistic works;
  • films;
  • sound recordings;
  • broadcasts; and
  • derivative works

These works shall be protected irrespective of their quality and purpose for which they were created.
However, the copyright protection shall only extend to expression and not ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such.        

Who Owns Copyright?

Copyrights in a work vests initially in the author (writer, composer, maker of the work, etc). However, where the making of a work is made by an employee in the course of his employment, unless there is any contrary agreement, the copyright in the work shall be deemed to vest in the person who commissioned the work or the employer. The author's right is transferable by assignment, testamentary disposition or by operation of law, in which case the assignee shall be the owner.

How long does copyright last?

Literary, Musical or Artistic Works

Generally, copyright in any literary, musical or artistic work shall subsist during the life of the author plus 50 years after his death. However, if a work has not been published during the lifetime of the author, copyright in the work continues to subsist until the expiration of 50 years, following the year in which the work was first published. In the case of a work with joint authorship, the life of the author who dies last is used for the purpose of calculating the copyright duration of the work.

 

Sound Recordings

The copyright in sound recordings shall subsist until the expiry of a period of 50 years computed from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the recording was first published or, if the sound recording has not been published, from the beginning of the calendar year following the year of fixation.

Broadcasts

For the copyright in broadcasts, the duration shall continue to subsist until the expiry of a period of fifty years computed from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the broadcasts was first made.

Films

The duration of the copyright in films shall continue to subsist for a period of fifty years computed from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the film was first published or first made available to the public or made, whichever is the last.

Government Works

Copyright in works of Government, Government organizations and international bodies shall continue to subsist until the expiry of a period of fifty years computed from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the work was first published.

What Are The Legal Rights Of Copyright Owners?

Generally, owners of copyright works in literary, musical or artistic works, films and sound recordings have the exclusive rights to control:

  • the reproduction of the works in any form (including photocopying, recording etc);
  • the performing, showing or playing to the public;
  • the communication to the public;
  • the distribution of copies to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership; and
  • the commercial rental to the public.

These exclusive rights apply irrespective of whether the works are copied partly or wholly. Thus, infringement of copyright occurs if the person claiming can show that the defendant has done such an act. In other words, the burden of proof lies on the person claiming that his/her work has been infringed.

Copyright in Broadcasts

For the copyright in a broadcast, there shall be exclusive rights to control the recording, the reproduction, and the rebroadcasting of the whole or a substantial part of the broadcast. The show or the play must be made in public and in a place where an admission fee is charged for the whole or a substantial part of the broadcast either in its original form or in any way recognizably derived from the original. The copyright in a television broadcast shall include the right to control the taking of still photographs from such broadcasts.

Economic Rights

Economic rights are exercised during the period of protection. These rights are exercised by the owners while alive, and upon death, for a period of 50 years by their heirs.

Moral Rights

Besides the economic rights, copyright protection also includes moral rights. The moral rights are basically the rights to oppose changes in the copyright that could harm the reputation of the creator.

 

What Constitutes Copyright Infringement?

The copyright in a work infringed when a person who, not being owner of the copyright, and without license from the owner, does or authorizes any of the following acts:-

  • reproduces in any material form, performs, shows or plays or distributes to the public,
  • communicates by cable or broadcast of the whole work or a substantial part thereof either in its original or derivative form;
  • imports any article into Malaysia for the purpose of trade or financial gains;
  • makes for sale or hire any infringing copy;
  • sells, lets for hire or by way of trade, exposes or offers for sale or hire any infringing copy;
  • distributes infringing copies;
  • possesses, otherwise than for his private and domestic use, any infringing copy;
  • by way of trade, exhibits in public any infringing copy;
  • imports into Malaysia, otherwise than for his private and domestic use, an infringing copy;
  • makes or has in his possession any contrivance used or intended to be used for the purpose of making infringing copies; or
  • causes the work to be performed in public
 

What Is Copyright Tribunal?

The Malaysian Copyright Act provides for a Copyright Tribunal whose function is to grant licenses to produce and publish in the National Language a translation of  a literary work written in any other language and arbitration of disputes relating to use of copyright works.