Copyright is an exclusive right that exists in numerous countries and grants a creator of an original intellectual work legal means to protect it. In layman’s terms, it is the right to copy. Copyrights also mean that the original creator of the product and any individual that the rights holder authorizes are the only people who have exclusive licenses to reproduce the work. A copyright protects the way concepts, facts and methods of operations are articulated. The paper will seek to explain the laws that govern copyright and the institutions, which allow the owners of intellectual property work to be rewarded for it.
How Copyright is granted
When someone creates a product that is viewed to be an original work that may have required a significant amount of mental work to create, the product is recognized as intellectual property. The property has to be protected from a publication that is unauthorized. Examples of intellectual properties include computer software, poetry, musical compositions, architectural designs, and art among others (Goldstein and Hugenholtz, 2013). Copyright is one way that is used to safeguard the original creations.
In copyright law, works are considered to be original if they are created from thinking that is independent and free of duplication. A creation is also known as Original work of Authorship. To have the upper hand legally, the owner of a created work registers the copyright to avoid duplication. However, not all types of work can be protected under copyright (Goldstein and Hugenholtz, 2013). Some of these works include slogans, brand names, and domains among others. For the work to fall under the creative category, it should be tangible. Therefore, even musical lyrics and forms of speeches have to be written down for them to be protected under copyright.
A case that assists in understanding copyright is Rogers Vs. Koons (1992) where Rogers was an Art photographer, and he shot a photograph of a couple holding several puppies in a raw. He later sold it for use in products such as greeting cards. Later on Jeff Koons, an internationally renowned artist saw the photograph ad he used it to create statues based on the image. He ended up selling several structures and making massive profit from the sale. When Rodgers found out, he sued Koons for copyright infringement (Rogers v. Koons, 1992). The court found that the two images of the photograph and the structure were too similar that any layperson would be able to recognize the copy. The court held that Koon could have used a more nonspecific source to make the same statement without having to copy Rodger’s work of authorship. Koons was therefore made to pay a financial settlement to Rodgers (Rogers v. Koons, 1992).
The case of Rodgers Vs. Koons is one of the famous examples especially in the art world and it raised other questions such as whether photography should be considered a work of art. And also if one could build upon another person’s work and create their own original piece. These queries were not answered by the court proceedings but the ruling has been used as a reference point for copyright infringement cases in the years after. The case also explains why it is important to protect one’s work through copyright as it prevents duplication of work. Furthermore, it also prevents someone from using another’s original work and passing it as their own original work. In Saudi Arabia however, one must register their work as copyright for it to be protected under copyright law.
Implementation of Copyright Law in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia joined the World Intellectual Property Organization in 1982 and over time it has continued to set strict regulations on intellectual property not just to ban infringement but also to encourage talented individuals to be more creative (Wipolex.wipo.int. 2019). The Saudi Arabia government has enacted laws which guarantee the protection of the rights of investors, authors, and industrial design which have had a great impact on the country’s social, economic and cultural developments. The copyright law ensures that the damaged party is compensated in case of copyright infringement.
According to Saudi law, the copyright holder has the private rights to reproduce his work, manufacture and distribute copies of it. The copyright law provisions term it a criminal offense if a person issues, copies, sells, rents, distributes, imports or exports any copyrighted work without the permission of the owner. The penalties for the violator are a fine not exceeding ten thousand SR which is equivalent to two thousand six hundred and sixty-six dollars (Wipolex.wipo.int. 2019). The violator may even face closure of the establishment for not more than fifteen days as well as compensation to the copyright owner for losses or damages that may have occurred as a result of the infringement. Saudi Arabia recently established SAIP (Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property), which is meant to house all the Intellectual property departments under one umbrella. The formation of SAIP will ensure that the rules and regulations are updated while increasing awareness for all the stakeholders, creators, inventors, consumers, and entrepreneurs. The authority will be tasked with coordinating all the enforcement in conjunction with other ministries.
Remuneration for Copyright
Every copyright holder has a right to receive payment for the use of their original work. The copyright holder also has the privilege to copy, display, perform, distribute and sell their work for public consumption. For instance, sound recording makers, broadcasters and performers have the rights of remuneration in respect to the telecommunication of their material or any form of public performance (Goldstein and Hugenholtz, 2013). The right of remuneration in copyright law differs from other rights. Just like a landowner a copyright holder can prevent the use of their original work by other people for any reason or for any reason at all. Similarly, a landowner can prohibit access to anyone on their property.
The right of remuneration in copyright law, however, depends on the copyright holder which means that the individual still has the right to avert the use of their original work by any user no matter how much they are willing to pay for it. The right to prescribe to use the work still remains on the copyright holder (Goldstein and Hugenholtz, 2013). This gives the copyright holder the right to get an injunction in the court of law when such an incident arises. However, once the amount is paid, the copyright holder cannot prevent the use of their material by the user who pays the fee. For instance, when a broadcaster makes the appropriate payment for a sound recording on original musical work, the copyright holder of the sound recording cannot prevent them from airing this recording (Goldstein and Hugenholtz, 2013). The payment of the prescribed fee gives them access to the material to use it and make it visible to the public.
An example of the right of remuneration and the scope in which a copyright holder can prevent a user who already paid for the prescribed fee is the case of Apple Vs. Microsoft. This case is considered an epic copyright battle which surrounded the GUI (Graphic user interface) and who invented it. Microsoft is known to have played a vital role in the creation of Macintosh but Apple had refused to let them use their software (Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corp, 1989). Bill gates ignored this and went on to add Microsoft features to Macintosh’s early prototypes. Apple realized this and instead of filing a lawsuit, they licensed Macintosh’s visual displays. However, when Windows 2.0 was unveiled it was almost alike in the arrangement of icons and other displays. Apple in believing that Microsoft breached the contract from the initial agreement of using the software only for version 1.0 filed a lawsuit (Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corp, 1989). The lawsuit was filed in 1988 and it went on for six years. Eventually, the court found that the 179 of the 189 displays used had been covered in the existing license and the remaining ten were not in any violation of copyright as had been claimed by Apple. Microsoft went on to win the lawsuit.
The Apple vs Microsoft case goes to show that it is best to ensure that the terms are clearly outlined when giving certain rights to a third party under the copyright law to avoid having too many loopholes. It is important to be remunerated for the original work but it is vital to ensure that the scope of that work is well communicated. Microsoft won the lawsuit since they had found a loophole in their contract with Apple.
Copyright Economic Rights
When it comes to licensing, a copyright holder enjoys six economic rights which include right of reproduction, distribution, public performance, digital broadcast of soundtracks, and preparation of imitative works. Additionally, when the work of authorship is considered a work of fine art, the original owner also has moral rights to the work. When any of these rights are violated, the author has the right to choose legal action (Goldstein and Hugenholtz, 2013). A good example is when a film studio uses a copy of a song as part of a movie’s soundtrack then the musician has the right to bring legal action.
Copyright law has a principle known as the First Sale doctrine, which states that an individual who buys a copy of a creative work of authorship has the permission to dispose of the said copy by either selling or displaying it irrespective of the private rights of the copyright holder. The doctrine, however, does not protect a person who makes copies and sells or distributes them without authorization unless the copies made are considered fair use (Goldstein and Hugenholtz, 2013). A good example of fair use would be when a reviewer quotes a book during the review in order to give some criticism and later on a magazine makes copies of the reviews under the doctrine of fair use. However, when an individual makes copies of the entire book then repackages and resells then that individual infringes on the author’s copyright. A copyright holder, however, may gain monetary benefits through granting another person or entity the right to exercise one or more of the economic rights (Goldstein and Hugenholtz, 2013). The transfer of rights can be transferred through a copyright license or copyright assignment.
Copyright licensing means that the copyright holder retains their rights while at the same time giving another person the right to exercise some of these rights. Assignment, however, results in the copyright holder losing total control over their work. Moral rights, on the other hand, cannot be licensed or assigned, they can be waived though. Copyright licensing is the most common way in which individuals gain economic benefits (Goldstein and Hugenholtz, 2013). For this to be made possible, the transfer of economic rights must be in writing and signed by the copyright holder. Copyright law does not cite any requirement of monetary exchange for the transfer to take place but often the copyright holders as for payments, give restriction and create other forms of obligations that the licensee should meet.
The license dictates all the terms of the transfer of rights. These terms can range from the extent of usage, number of uses and duration of the license. The license also specifies obligations on the part of the licensee which can be in terms of monetary obligations. The license may also specify obligations such as restrictions on distribution to certain regions. Violation of these terms can lead to the lawsuit on infringement or the copyright holder can sue for damages or seek an injunction (Goldstein and Hugenholtz, 2013). These rights can also be inherited when a person passes away before the duration of the license. The individuals who inherit these rights, however, are permitted to terminate grants of the licenses if specific conditions are met. This is however in exception of cases of works for hire. It is often advisable to seek legal advice before licensing copyright work as it would assist understand how best to benefit from the license. Limitations in Copyright
While copyright is known for its protection, as mentioned earlier, this protection has its limitation. For instance, copyright protects the expression of an idea but it does not protect the concept in itself. It is therefore advisable to get applicable protection whereby a design may be protected but the applicability may not be protected. For this patent protection is advisable. Still, a limitation is that copyright protection does not last forever (Goldstein and Hugenholtz, 2013). Under international copyright law, the protection should last at least seventy years after the demise of the author. This means that an individual needs to find more information on the work of authorship if the author no longer exists before deciding to copy and distribute the work. Also, a limitation is that for any original work to be registered for copyright, the registration has to be done and completed within three months after its publication (Goldstein and Hugenholtz, 2013). This also means that in order to seek infringement of the work, the work must have been registered under copyright law for an individual to seek any damages.
In conclusion, it is evident that copyright protection is paramount when one has original tangible work. When one is a copyright holder they have the ultimate control over their work and can prevent any person from copying or misuse. The individual, however, has options of licensing or assigning the rights to another individual for monetary benefits or remuneration. Still seeking damages from copyright infringement is a way that individuals have also gained monetary benefits form copyrights. This law motivates innovators and inventors through encouragement that their original work would be protected from unwanted misuse or people passing it as their own.
Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., 709 F.Supp. 925, 10 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1677 (N.D. Cal. 1989)
Goldstein, P. and Hugenholtz, P. (2013). International copyright. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press.
Rogers v. Koons, 960 F.2d 301 (2d Cir. 1992)
Wipolex.wipo.int. (2019). WIPOLex. [online] Available at: https://wipolex.wipo.int/en/text/129517 [Accessed 12 Mar. 2019].