Copyright can be used as a tool to assert and protect one of the key assets of your business. Copyright is an inexpensive protection as there are no costs involved in obtaining the protection. In many situations, it is the only protection possible for literary and artistic works. In some situations, copyright protection can further be used to complement other intellectual property rights. For example, copyright can be used to protect certain products that are not eligible for design protection or trade secrets protection.

To be eligible for copyright protection, the artistic or literary work must be created by a human. The work must also meet a minimum standard of originality. There is, however, no threshold as regards quality or novelty. For example, a translation of an already existing book obtains copyright to the translation, even though the book is already known. It should however be noted that copyright is only given to the specific execution of the work and not to the underlying idea. Examples of copyright protected works include depictions in speech or writing, computer programs, databases, musical and dramatic works, and pictorial art including photography, architecture, applied art and all other expressions of spiritual creation of literary or artistic content. To fulfil the originality requirement the work has to be the author’s own original creation.  The author shall in the creation of the work have been able to express his or her creative capacity by making free and creative choices and by that putting a personal stamp on the work.

Copyright is generally protected by default in the country where the author has his or her citizenship, place of residence, or where the work is first published. Through various international agreements, (mainly the Berne Convention administrated by the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”)) copyright protection is extended to most countries in the world. The practical consequence of these agreements is that member states are obliged to offer protection under their national legislation to works from other countries which are part of the international agreements. Currently, there are 168 contracting parties to the Berne Convention. The length of a copyright varies a lot from country to country. Protection can be as little as 25 years from the death of the author to a 100 years from the death of the author. The Berne Convention offers a minimum of 50 years from the death of the author (with the exception of photos). However, in countries such as the USA, Russia, Australia and all of the Member States of the European Union, copyright is protected during the lifetime of the author plus 70 years.

For more information, please contact Ida Häggström.

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