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Copyright.jpgWhat is Copyright?

Copyright is a legal term describing rights given to creators of a broad range of literary and artistic works. It is a bundle of rights given to the author of works to make sure that only he can use and reproduce what he has created for his own purposes. It would enable him to control the commercial exploitation of his works.

The works covered by copyright includes: literary works such as novels, poems, computer programs, newspaper; dramatic works such as plays or choreography; musical works such as music; artistic works such as sculpture, architecture, maps, technical drawings, paintings, photographs, wedding dais and so on.

Related Rights is a term that is associated with copyrighted works and provide similar rights. Works covered under related rights are: sound recordings, films, broadcasting, cable programs and published editions.


Copyright Protection

Copyright and related rights protection is obtained automatically without any need for registration or other formalities. Unlike other types of intellectual property such as trademark, patent or industrial designs where these types of intellectual property must be registered for protection, copyright and related rights are unique where, the moment you create a work, it is automatically protected. Therefore, everything that you write (or draw or paint or whatever) regardless of whether it is an email, a recording, an image, a thesis, a web page, or anything else, it is automatically copyright protected. Not only that, works created in Brunei Darussalam will have protection in other countries who are a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, usually known as the Berne Convention. This would mean that your copyright or related rights is already protected in most countries without having to 'register' or go to those countries).

*Brunei Darussalam is a party to both the WTO and Berne Convention.


Copyright Notice ©

The use of the © indicates an assertion of copyright. The symbol © is usually followed by the name of the copyright owner plus the year when copies of the work were first made available. Example: © Attorney General's Chambers 2004.

Not using the © symbol does not imply a waiver or loss of copyright. It may, however, be a relevant fact in infringement proceedings.


Copyright Ownership

Basic rule is that the person who creates the work is the author and thus the first owner in the work. However, if works created in the course of employment or under a contract of service, then the employer would be the first owner. Nevertheless, this would depend on your employment contract.

For government servant, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan will be the first owner of the copyright in a work made by a government servant in the course of his duties.


Duration for Protection

The copyright protection has a time limit of 50 years. So copyright protection will start the minute that you created the work plus 50 years after your death i.e. life plus 50 years.

Copyright protection also includes moral rights which involve the right to claim authorship of a work, and the right to oppose changes to it that could harm the creator's reputation.


Collective Management Organisastion (CMO) or Collecting Societies

Many creative works protected by copyright require mass distribution, communication, and financial investment for their dissemination (for example, publications, sound recordings, and films). It is in the copyright owners' interest that their works are enjoyed by the widest audience, provided that they are rewarded for their work.

In some sectors, copyright can be managed through individual contracts between the authors and users. However, in many cases it is impossible to negotiate individual licenses or permissions for dissemination of works. Think of playing songs on a radio station, showing a movie on a cable network, or performing a play in theatres around the world: there is no way each user could remunerate each individual creator or rights holder every time a work is accessed or enjoyed. In many of these cases rights are managed through the system of collective management organization or collecting society.

These CMO or societies can provide their members the benefits of the organization's administrative and legal expertise and efficiency in, for example, collecting, managing, and disbursing royalties gained from the national and international uses of a member's work or performance. Certain rights of producers of sound recordings and broadcasting organization are sometimes manage collectively as well.

Currently there are two local collecting societies representing 2 different types of copyright work.

  1. BeAt Berhad: This CMO represents authors and composers. It was first established in 2010 and is affiliated with International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (or CISAC. For more information on BeAt Berhad, you can go to
  2. BruCop Sdn Bhd: BruCop represents the recording companies and businesses and it is a subsidiary of Recording Industry Association of Malaysia (or RIM). It was set up in 2011. For more information on BruCop Sdn Bhd, you can go through RIM's website:


Copyright Legislation

The legislation governing copyright are: