A new breed of legal support

Synopsis of copyright protection in Tanzania

2019-05-18 10:04:15

By Paul Kibuuka @tzpaulkibuuka

The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act Cap 218 [R.E. 2002] (‘the Copyright Act’) is the controlling legislation on copyright matters in Tanzania. The Copyright Act protects original works of authorship including literary, artistic works, folklore and related matters against unauthorized copying and piracy of their work. It also faults the importation or ownership of instruments prone to being used in facilitating infringement.

The Copyright Society of Tanzania (COSOTA) is established under the Copyright Act, inter alia, to promote and protect the authors’ interests and the interests of other participating actors of copyrightable works and to maintain registers of works, productions and associations of authors.

Thus, if a person registers his/her works with COSOTA, he/she would be easily recognized as the owner of the works and enjoy royalties and other benefits that accrue from copyright registration.

In an effort to deal with piracy, the government introduced the Films and Music Products (Tax Stamps) Regulations, 2013 which require the fixation of tax stamps on compact disc (CD) or digital video disc (DVD).

In the case of Zanzibar, Copyright Act, 2003, under which the Copyright Society of Zanzibar (COSOZA) was established for the purpose of carrying out roles similar to those of COSOTA, governs copyright matters in Zanzibar.

So, what’s 'copyright' and what are 'neighbouring rights'?

The term ‘copyright’ is defined under the Copyright Act to mean the sole legal right given to the author or originator or assignee of a literary, artistic or musical work to print, publish, perform, film or record such work. Any publication, print or performance of the work without the author’s or assignee’s permission amounts to breach of copyright.

On the other hand, neighbouring rights, refer to the secondary right of copyright to which performers (such as, singers, musicians, and dancers, producers of sound recording e.g. CDs/DVDs) are entitled. This is in accordance with section 4 of the Copyright Act.

By virtue of neighbouring rights, performers are protected against the broadcasting and communication of their live performances to the public if they have not consented to such acts.

The literary and artistic works which are protected by copyright are provided for under section 5 of the Copyright Act. They include; but are not limited to, books; computer programs; musical works; works of drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, engraving, lithography and tapestry; photographic works; and illustrations, maps, plans, sketches, etc.

Even so, there are several things which a person cannot copyright. For example, under section 7 of the Copyright Act, laws and court decisions; news of the day published, broadcast or publicly communicated by any other means cannot be copyrighted. As well, ideas or facts cannot be copyrighted, but only works which have been expressed in a tangible form.

Copyright is very important because it subsists during the lifetime of the author or owner and 50 years after the death of the owner. Moreover, copyright grants exclusive economic and moral rights to the copyright owner which he/she can financially exploit in return for payment (fee or royalty).

Economic rights are provided for under section 9 of the Copyright Act and they include reproduction, translation, adaptation or distribution of the work; rental of the original or a copy of an audio-visual work; translation of the work; etc.

Moral rights are provided for under section 11 of the Copyright Act and these rights are defined to mean the author’s rights to claim authorship of his/her work and they extend to the right to exercise the economic rights.

The implication of economic and moral rights is that if copyrighted work is distributed, mutilated, or modified to the detriment of the copyright owner’s character, the owner has the right to bring legal proceedings to object and seek relief.

However, the economic and moral rights that the copyright owner has the exclusive right to do in relation to a work are subject to certain exceptions e.g. fair use and face-to-face instruction often used by educators.

Registration of copyright is subject to following a prescribed procedure; as well as, payment of prescribed fees. As the copyright is territorial, owners of copyright need to register their works in other jurisdictions for copyright protection in those jurisdictions.

Paul Kibuuka is the managing partner of Isidora & Company Advocates. Email: Twitter: @tzpaulkibuuka This article was first published in The Citizen on Saturday, 18 May 2019.

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