Right of Reproduction under Copyright Law
The right of the owner of copyright to prevent others from making copies of his works is the most basic right under copyright. For example, the making of copies of a protected work is the act performed by a publisher who wishes to distribute copies of a text-based work to the public, whether in the form of printed copies or digital media such as CD-ROMs. Likewise, the right of a phonogram producer to manufacture and distribute compact discs (CDs) containing recorded performances of musical works is based, in part, on the authorization given by the composers of such works to reproduce their compositions in the recording. Therefore, the right to control the act of reproduction is the legal basis for many forms of exploitation of protected works.
Other rights are recognized in national laws in addition to the basic right of reproduction. For example, some laws include a right to authorize distribution of copies of works; obviously, the right of reproduction would be of little economic value if the owner of copyright could not authorize the distribution of the copies made with his consent. The right of distribution is usually subject to exhaustion upon first sale or other transfer of ownership of a copy, which is made with the authorization of the rights owner. This means that, after the copyright owner has sold or otherwise transferred ownership of a particular copy of a work, the owner of that copy may dispose of it without the copyright owner’s further permission, by giving it away or even by reselling it.
However, as regards rental of such copies, an increasing number of national copyright laws, as well as the TRIPS Agreement, have recognized a separate right for computer programs, audiovisual works and phonograms. The right of rental is justified because technological advances have made it very easy to copy these types of works; experience in some countries has showed that copies were made by customers of rental shops, and therefore, that the right to control rental practices was necessary in order to safeguard the copyright owner’s right of reproduction. Finally, some copyright laws include a right to control importation of copies as a means of preventing erosion of the principle of territoriality of copyright; that is, the economic interests of the copyright owner would be endangered if he could not exercise the rights of reproduction and distribution on a territorial basis.
There are some acts of reproducing a work which are exceptions to the general rule, because they do not require the authorization of the author or other owner of rights; these are known as “limitations” on rights. For example, many national laws traditionally allow individuals to make single copies of works for private, personal and non-commercial purposes. The emergence of digital technology, which creates the possibility of making high-quality, unauthorized copies of works that are virtually indistinguishable from the source (and thus a perfect substitute for the purchase of, or other legitimate access to, authorized copies), has called into question the continued justification for such a limitation on the right of reproduction.
Rights of Public Performance, Broadcasting and Communication to the Public
Normally under national law, a public performance is considered as any performance of a work at a place where the public is or can be present, or at a place not open to the public, but where a substantial number of persons outside the normal circle of a family and its closest social acquaintances is present.
On the basis of the right of public performance, the author or other owner of copyright may authorize live performances of a work, such as the presentation of a play in a theater or an orchestra performance of a symphony in a concert hall. Public performance also includes performance by means of recordings; thus, musical works embodied in phonograms are considered “publicly performed” when the phonograms are played over amplification equipment in such places as discotheques, airplanes, and shopping malls.
The right of broadcasting covers the emission by wireless means for members of the public within range of the signal, whose equipment allows reception of sounds or of images and sounds, whether by radio, television, or satellite. When a work is communicated to the public, a signal is diffused by wire or cable, which can be received only by persons who have access to equipment connected to the wire or cable system.
Under the Berne Convention, owners of copyright have the exclusive right of authorizing public performance, broadcasting and communication to the public of their works. Under some national laws, the exclusive right of the author or other owner of rights to authorize broadcasting is replaced, in certain circumstances, by a right to equitable remuneration, although such a limitation on the broadcasting right is less and less common.
Rights of Translation and Adaptation
The acts of translating or adapting a work protected by copyright also require the authorization of the owner of rights. Translation means the expression of a work in a language other than that of the original version. Adaptation is generally understood as the modification of a work to create another work, for example adapting a novel to make a motion picture, or the modification of a work to make it suitable for different conditions of exploitation, e.g., by adapting an instructional textbook originally prepared for higher education into an instructional textbook intended for students at a lower level.
Translations and adaptations are works protected by copyright. Therefore, in order to reproduce and publish a translation or adaptation, authorization must be obtained from both the owner of the copyright in the original work and of the owner of copyright in the translation or adaptation. Economic rights of the type mentioned above can be transferred or assigned to other owners usually for a sum of money or royalties depending on the proposed usage of the work. However, the second type of rights, moral rights, can never be transferred. They always remain with the original author of the work.