The Copyright Act 1987 (“Act”) confers protection automatically on literary works, musical works, artistic works, films, sound recordings and broadcasts once the requirements of the Act are satisfied, namely that work (a) is original; (b) is written down, recorded or reduced to material form; and (c) is created by a citizen or a resident of, or a body corporate incorporated in, Malaysia or a country which is a member of the Berne Convention or is first published in Malaysia or a country which is a member of the Berne Convention.
As the Act has no mechanism for registration of copyright, how does a copyright owner prove that his work is protected by copyright?
Section 42 of the Act provides a means of proving copyright by way of a statutory declaration or an affidavit which is admissible in Court as evidence of the statements contained therein. The declaration or affidavit should be drafted with due care and include all information required under the Act to establish the existence of copyright. A copy of the copyright work should also be included as an exhibit.
Another method which is widely practised but not expressly recognised under the Act is the self-addressed mailing method. Through this mechanism, the copyright owner sends to himself by registered post, a sealed self-addressed envelope which contains a true copy of the copyright work. The envelope remains sealed until such time that the owner is required to prove his copyright in the work. The posting date stamped on the envelope will assist to establish that the work was created on or before that date.
The potential pitfall of this method is that the copyright owner may encounter difficulty in proving ownership especially in cases where he is not the author of the work.
A copyright owner should keep all preparatory work leading to the final version of the work, including the sketches, notes, drawings and drafts to assist in proving that the author has expended sufficient skill and effort in producing the work.
He may include a copyright notice on work which is in written or printed form. A copyright notice typically consists of the symbol © or the word “copyright” followed by the name of the copyright owner and the year of first publication, for example © SKRINE 2009.
In the absence of a system for registration of copyright, it is imperative that a copyright owner takes steps that will enable him to establish the existence of copyright in his work.
TEH HONG KOON (