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Copyright


Copyright deals with the protection of right of intellectual property. It does not have any relation with other materialistic property moveable or immovable. Research, literary works, drama, arts and paintings, music, audio-video production, film, photography, sculpture, recording, software, e-mail, website and broadcasting of radio and television are considered as major intellectual property in the present day world. According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), 'Intellectual Property refers to creations of mind; Inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.'

Like materialistic property, except the owners others cannot use or enjoy intellectual property. Others can have access to the right of having any property if the owner concerned gives permission or rents out that for a particular period. This provision is equally applicable for the intellectual property. Each intellectual work is protected under the Copyright Act.

The activities relating to copyright always involve more than one party. For instance, if it is a literary work, at least three parties- author, publisher and readers are involved in it. For a production of music, many parties like lyricist, music composer, singer, musical hands, sound recordist, producer, distributors and listeners are involved. For a film various parties including scriptwriter, producer, director, actors, actresses, technicians, music director, art director, editor, play back signers, off-screen artists, junior artistes, assistants, distribution company and exhibitions and above all audience are involved. According to the universal copyright conventions, each living author and creator gets royalty of intellectual property, created by him or her. After the death of the author or the creator, his or her successors get the royalty from the concerned intellectual property for 50 to 70 years. In the Bangladesh Copyright Act 2000, the period has been fixed at 60 years. The act, further amended in 2005, empowered an intellectual to establish his or her right on his or her creative product. Even then many authors, artists, producers and directors are being deprived of their legitimate right only due to lack of awareness and information. Consciousness of all parities, creators, producers and consumers are necessary for the proper implementation of the Bangladesh Copyright Act 2000. Most of the creative people involve in writing, art and culture are reluctant to preserve and bring their creative products, intellectual property under the legal framework. The copyright office of Dhaka began its activities 50 years back, but the record of copyright registration reveals a frustrating situation. Till December 2009, the number of registered intellectual property was only 9961 of which 486 were records, 6154 artworks and 3321 items were literary works. There is a provision in the section 41 of the copyright Act, 2000 to form and register 'Copyright Society' in Bangladesh like many other countries of the world. But not a single society has yet been formed by the copyright holders belonging to any branch of creative work including literature, music and arts. On the other hand different copyright societies of intellectuals around the world are playing the role of watchdog in protecting their right and interest, promoting their spirit and creativity.

The main threat to the intellectual property is piracy. Local and foreign books, films, musical tunes and computer software are being pirated in a massive way. In Bangladesh at least 10 million taka is required to produce a feature film. But with the release of the movie and even before the release its pirated copies in CD or DVD format are found in the market. As a result, the investment becomes very risky.

Copyright registration has not been made compulsory in the Copyright Act, 2000. It is not also compulsory in other countries. But the copyright registration is a pre-requisite to avoid any possible conflict over the ownership of an intellectual property. Being a member country of WIPO, World Trade Organisation (WTO) and signatory at Berne Convention, Universal Copyright Convention, Bangladesh is bound to abide by all conditions of these conventions related to copyright and the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. The Bangladesh Copyright Act 2000 was enacted incorporating the nationally and globally important provisions of all major international copyright rules. It was further amended in 2005 for updating. Later, the copyright Rules 2006 (SRO No-219) was formulated under section 103 of the Copyright Act to strengthen the copyright management through proper implementation of law.

The existing copyright Act is the transformed and updated version of the act promulgated in this part of the world during the British and Pakistani rule. The British Copyright Act was enacted first in 1709. It was made effective in India in 1914 through an amendment. After the partition of India in 1947, Pakistan government repealed the Act of 1914 and promulgated the copyright ordinance in 1962. The Central Copyright Office was set up in Karachi and a Regional Copyright Office was established in Dhaka. After the Independence, the Government of Bangladesh amended the Copyright Ordinance of 1962 to give the Regional Copyright Office of Dhaka a National status. Initially it was placed under the Ministry of Education and later under the newly created Ministry of Culture as an attached department. Before enacting the Copyright Act of 2000, the copyright office of Dhaka worked under the Copyright (Amended) Ordinance of 1962 and the Copyright Rules of 1967. At present, the copyright office is a national level quasi-judicial organisation.

Meanwhile, the government has constituted a task force comprising representatives from all concerned parties to implement the copyright act properly. The task force has recovered various pirated products of intellectual property from the markets of Dhaka. Steps have been taken to include the copyright act in the schedule of the Mobile Court Ordinance 2009 to dispose of the cases relating to copyright crimes within shortest possible time.

The state of implementation of the Copyright Act in Bangladesh is still very vulnerable, although different international agencies and the Government of Bangladesh has accelerated their best possible efforts to implement the act by stopping piracy. There are many strong legal and administrative provisions in the Act to prevent intellectual piracy, but in reality, the rate of implementation of the Act is still very limited. [Manzoor-ur Rahman]