Frequently Asked Questions
What does copyright and related rights mean and cover, and is it the same all over the world?
Copyright protects most of the creations of the human mind, generally called works, provided that they are original. Additionally, related rights protect specific contributions that are important for the dissemination of copyrighted works. Although most provisions referring to copyright and related rights are very similar in most parts of the world, as a result of European and international legislation, differences still exist, even among the Member States of the European Union.
Do I automatically get copyright protection, for example, if I take a photograph with my phone, or do I have to register my work to get protection?
Copyright is granted to the author of the work, irrespective of any formalities, from the moment the work is created and it meets the criteria for protection, even if the work has not been finished or made public. In general, for a work to be protected by copyright it must be ‘the author’s own intellectual creation’, which in Romania means that a work needs to be expressed in a concrete form, to be original (i.e. it bears the mark of the author’s personality) and to be in a form that can be perceived by others. Therefore, if a photograph taken with a mobile phone meets the criteria for protection, copyright will exist in the photo from the very moment it has been taken, no registration is necessary. A photograph taken with a mobile phone will normally meet the criteria for protection whenever the photographer has individually chosen all or some of the various elements that influence how the final photograph looks (e.g. setting, lighting, pose of the subject, angle, aperture, exposure).
What is copyright infringement? Can I get in trouble for copyright infringement? What if I wasn't aware that I infringed something protected by copyright?
In general, copyright infringement refers to using a copyrighted work without proper authorisation. Many acts of use of a work (whether it is making a copy, giving that copy to someone else, uploading the copy to the internet or modifying it in order to show it to someone else) can amount to copyright infringement. There are serious consequences for copyright infringement, as both criminal and civil claims can be made against you. Even if not knowing that the act was infringing may reduce the risk of a criminal conviction, ignorance does not help with civil liability, which means that you may have to pay high damages to the rights holders.
Am I allowed to download a work protected by copyright from the internet and does it matter which technology is used and whether I download only parts of the work?
Downloading a copyright-protected work from the internet, irrespective of the technology used, is very likely to infringe rights in the work. The same is true where only parts of the work would be downloaded (except where the downloaded parts would not amount to something protected by copyright). In order not to infringe, you would either need to have authorisation from the rights holder to make the download, or fall within a limitation to copyright (e.g. where the download would qualify as a private copy). This could be applicable where you own an authorised copy of a work (not a computer program, however) and you make a new copy of that work solely for your personal use or for the use of the ‘family circle’, even if that copy has been made by downloading it from the internet. In order not to infringe you would have to make sure that when downloading you are not simultaneously allowing others to upload the work.
What is copyright?
Copyright (or author’s right) is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.
What can be protected using copyright?
Exhaustive lists of works covered by copyright are usually not to be found in legislation. Nonetheless, broadly speaking, works commonly protected by copyright throughout the world include:
literary works such as novels, poems, plays, reference works, newspaper articles;
computer programs, databases;
films, musical compositions, and choreography;
artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculpture;
advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.
Copyright protection extends only to expressions, and not to ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such. Copyright may or may not be available for a number of objects such as titles, slogans, or logos, depending on whether they contain sufficient authorship.
What rights does copyright give me? What are my rights as author of a work?
There are two types of rights under copyright:
economic rights, which allow the rights owner to derive financial reward from the use of his works by others; andmoral rights, which protect the non-economic interests of the author.
Most copyright laws state that the rights owner has the economic right to authorize or prevent certain uses in relation to a work or, in some cases, to receive remuneration for the use of his work (such as through collective management). The economic rights owner of a work can prohibit or authorize:
What does it mean to “license” my works and how can I do it?
Once you are the right owner of a work, you can provide authorization for others to use or exploit your work. Such authorizations are commonly referred to as “licenses” and may or may not entail paying the rights owner. Naturally, it is always recommended to seek expert legal advice before negotiating a licensing agreement.
If you wish to license your work to users such as broadcasters, publishers, or even entertainment establishments (i.e. bars, nightclubs), joining a collective management organization (CMO) may be a good option. CMOs monitor uses of works on behalf of creators and publishers and are in charge of negotiating licenses and collecting remuneration. They are particularly common in the field of musical and literary works where there may be a large number of users of the same work and it would be difficult both for the owner of rights and the users to seek specific authorization for every single use and to monitor them.
How can I find the copyright laws of various countries?
WIPO Lex provides easy access to intellectual property legislation from a wide range of countries and regions as well as to treaties on intellectual property.
Many national or regional intellectual property offices also provide information concerning national or regional legislation on their websites. View a list of links to national and regional intellectual property offices to find out more.
How can I identify and get in touch with the copyright owner of a work?
As most countries do not impose any formalities on the provision of copyright protection, locating the rights owner of a work can sometimes be difficult. Finding the rights owner of a specific work in a territory is usually possible if you contact: the author or the publisher or a work, the collective management organization, the local registry of works, or the national copyright office. Such organizations may have databases that contain valuable information about ownership of copyrighted works.
What are limitations and exceptions to copyright?
In some cases it may be possible to use works that are not in the public domain without needing to request authorization from or remunerate the author or the right owner. This can occur if such uses are covered by limitations and exceptions in the national legislation. Examples of limitations and exceptions include:
the quotation of works;
the use of news of the day; or
the creation of accessible formats for print disabled people.
Find out more about limitations and exceptions.
Can I freely use works published on the Internet?
A common misperception is that works published on the Internet, including on social media platforms, are in the public domain and may therefore be widely used by anybody without the authorization of the right owner. Any works protected by copyright or related rights – ranging from musical compositions, to multimedia products, newspaper articles, and audiovisual productions – for which the time of protection has not expired, are protected regardless of whether they are published on paper or digitally. In each case you should, generally, seek the authorization of the right owner prior to use.
Some websites contain a general license that may exempt you from requiring a direct authorization for certain uses. Such licenses may authorize only certain uses, for example some non-commercial uses. In practice, with regards to a text publicly available on a blog or a website for example, you may not use the text unless:
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures if you cant come to an agreement
A single procedure. Through ADR, the parties can agree to resolve in a single procedure a dispute involving intellectual property that is protected in a number of different countries, thereby avoiding the expense and complexity of multi-jurisdictional litigation, and the risk of inconsistent results.
Party autonomy. Because of its private nature, ADR affords parties the opportunity to exercise greater control over the way their dispute is resolved than would be the case in court litigation. In contrast to court litigation, the parties themselves may select the most appropriate decision-makers for their dispute. In addition, they may choose the applicable law, place and language of the proceedings. Increased party autonomy can also result in a faster process, as parties are free to devise the most efficient procedures for their dispute. This can result in material cost savings.
Neutrality. ADR can be neutral to the law, language and institutional culture of the parties, thereby avoiding any home court advantage that one of the parties may enjoy in court-based litigation, where familiarity with the applicable law and local processes can offer significant strategic advantages.
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks are protected by intellectual property rights.
How can I protect my trademark?
At the national/regional level, trademark protection can be obtained through registration, by filing an application for registration with the national/regional trademark office and paying the required fees. At the international level, you have two options: either you can file a trademark application with the trademark office of each country in which you are seeking protection, or you can use WIPO’s Madrid System.
What rights does trademark registration provide?
In principle, a trademark registration will confer an exclusive right to the use of the registered trademark. This implies that the trademark can be exclusively used by its owner, or licensed to another party for use in return for payment. Registration provides legal certainty and reinforces the position of the right holder, for example, in case of litigation.
How long does trademark protection last?
The term of trademark registration can vary, but is usually ten years. It can be renewed indefinitely on payment of additional fees. Trademark rights are private rights and protection is enforced through court orders.
What kinds of trademark can be registered?
A word or a combination of words, letters, and numerals can perfectly constitute a trademark. But trademarks may also consist of drawings, symbols, three-dimensional features such as the shape and packaging of goods, non-visible signs such as sounds or fragrances, or color shades used as distinguishing features – the possibilities are almost limitless.
What should I do if I want to use someone else's intellectual property?
Check who owns the intellectual property and what sort of protection it has. Bear in mind that a single product, for example, might be protected by several different patents and a registered design. You will also need to confirm whether the owner has already granted licences to others to use the intellectual property you are interested in.
Decide whether you need the exclusive rights to the intellectual property, or just permission to use it. Investigate how valuable the intellectual property is to the current owner - how profitably they are exploiting it and what their future prospects are (for example, if a patent is near expiry). Consider also to what extent granting you rights to use it would damage the original owner's returns. If, for example, you operate in a different market, your use of their intellectual property might have little impact on their own operations. Then negotiate an agreement and a written contract.
What Is the DMCA?
By the middle to late 1990s, peer-to-peer file-sharing and other new digital technologies had facilitated widespread illegal access to copyrighted material In response, industry organizations such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lobbied for the creation of a formal process by which copyright holders could assert their rights over media posted to third-party websites and have copyrighted material removed promptly.
The DMCA is the result — a collaboration between legislators, media companies, and consumer advocates. DMCA is short for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It is a US law that was enacted by the US Congress in 1998 and signed by President Bill Clinton on October 28th of that year.
The DMCA implemented two 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties that criminalize the dissemination of copyrighted works, as well as the act of circumventing access control (regardless of whether there was any copyright infringement or not) The DMCA is also notable for whom it doesn’t apply to — it exempts internet service providers (ISP) and their intermediaries, of any liability, direct or indirect, for violations that may occur on their networks.
How Can Notices Be Filed?
The core tool of the DMCA is the DMCA takedown notice. When a copyright holder learns of a violation, a DMCA takedown notice is issued to the service that hosts the offending website or to the internet service provider (ISP) of the violator.
Infringing material can also be removed from search results by issuing a notice to a search engine.A written notice must be sent to the organization’s DMCA agent in writing, identifying the original copyrighted work and the material infringing on a copyright. It must be signed by the copyright holder or their agent.
How Does the DMCA Affect Webmasters and Online Service Providers?
Webmaster and online service providers (OSPs) are shielded from the repercussions of copyright infringement violations committed by their users and customers (Online service providers may include email services, forums, and platforms for user-generated content.)
This protection is due to the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, especially if they host content for other internet users For example, one can find countless hours of user-submitted content on the video-hosting website YouTube. It would be impossible for YouTube to monitor all user-submitted items proactively, so the service would generally be protected from liability when users post infringing content. In exchange for this protection, the service must promptly remove infringing content when notified.
Webmasters who choose not to remove infringing material after getting a notice may be subject to criminal or civil penalties. Generally, prosecution for copyright violations focuses on major perpetrators, often end-users. However, even when webmasters and hosts have not participated directly in wrongdoing, they might be found to contribute to copyright violations through negligence if they do not take proper steps to curb copyright violations. That includes making contact information available to copyright holders and removing infringing material quickly.
Do DMCAs Work Outside the USA?
Yes When someone steals your content, your first thought is to issue a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice.A DMCA takedown notice is basically a formal request made to the person or entity who has — whether purposely or mistakenly — taken your content without your permission, asking that they take it down If they comply with your DMCA notice, you’re all done. If they don’t, you may have to pursue the matter through legal channels.
Help I Got a DMCA Notice…Now What?
It would be bad enough to wake up one morning and discover someone had stolen some of your online content and published it on their own site without your permission. But what if you were the one doing the stealing? Or at least, being accused of stealing? What then?
Yes, a DMCA notice is essentially an accusation of theft, but no one is going to show up at your door with handcuffs, so just take a deep breath and remain calm. Then ask yourself a question, “Did I steal someone else’s content?”If the answer is yes, comply with the DMCA notice immediately, and then take it as a lesson you should have already known — stealing is wrong, and you shouldn’t do it. With the way the internet works, and with as many tools as are available for people to monitor their content and be alerted if it appears anywhere but on their own site, stealing content is just a DMCA notice waiting to happen You will eventually get caught. So just do everyone, especially yourself, a favor and create your own content.
Should I Remove the Content?
Now let’s give the benefit of the doubt, and assume that you didn’t mean to steal someone else’s content. Maybe you didn’t know it was copyrighted, or you didn’t understand how copyright works Maybe you mistakenly thought the content was available for republication and sharing. Maybe someone gave you permission to republish, but you didn’t realize the person who gave you that permission wasn’t actually the original creator of that content, and permission wasn’t theirs to give. Or maybe, just maybe, someone is pulling a fast one and claiming ownership to content that isn’t really theirs. If a few years spent on the internet has taught you anything, it should be to take everything you see there with a grain of salt until you can confirm its veracity through authoritative means.
Even if it was an accident, that won’t matter until the situation can be resolved, and until that happens, you need to remove the content. Immediately. Yes, even if you believe you didn’t steal it, you must remove it. Until you can confirm ownership and get the situation settled, removing the content in question will protect you from any further action from either the person claiming to own the content or from your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Should I be seeking legal advice?
If the situation is particularly sticky, though, or you just don’t feel comfortable tackling it yourself, you may want to consider contacting a copyright lawyer and letting them handle it for you. It shouldn’t bear repeating, but it does — don’t steal content. Write your own. If you can’t or don’t want to write your own, hire a copywriter. If you can’t or don’t want to hire a copywriter, then consider another line of work because stealing other people’s content for your website is not a sustainable business model. And did we mention it’s just wrong? While it may be uncomfortable or frustrating to get it all sorted out, you eventually will, and then can go back to the business of creating original, quality content, and helping to make the internet a better, more informative — and more honest — place.