Intellectual Property Management (IPM)


IP Guide for SMEs





How Can SMEs Benefit From Copyright?

Useful Tips for Copyright Owners

By: World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)





If your company is directly involved in the so-called “copyright industries,” e.g. creating, publishing, recording, distributing or selling works protected by copyright or related rights, you should make sure you are aware of your rights and take appropriate measures to exercise, license and enforce them.




But even if you are not directly involved in the “copyright industries,” your enterprise may occasionally produce some works protected by copyright or related rights. Corporate publications, brochures, websites, TV or digital advertisements, marketing videos, posts in social media, an original content published in your business blog are all likely to be protected under copyright legislation.


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Either way, if you believe that your enterprise has created works protected by copyright or related rights and you wish to maximize your SME’s rewards from such works, it would be prudent for you to seek the advice of your national copyright office or of a copyright lawyer. The following are some of the questions you could ask to better understand the copyright system in your country:




Is there a copyright depositary?

As a general rule, copyright protection is automatic and does not depend on registration. In some countries, however, there is a copyright depositary and registering your work in the depository would be a smart choice as it would considerably assist you in case of dispute for example over the ownership of the work.



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Who owns the rights?

The owner of copyright in a work is generally the original creator or author of the work. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. In some countries, for example, the economic rights over a copyright work are deemed to vest initially in the employer/producer, while in some others these are deemed to be assigned or transferred to the employer/producer. It would therefore be advisable to find out about the specific regulations in your own country.


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What are my rights?

The exclusive rights which are accorded to authors and right holders under national copyright legislation vary from one country to another. However, exclusive rights usually encompass, for example, the right of reproduction (right of making copies), the right of public performance, the right of broadcasting, and the right of adaptation. Also an increasing number of countries provide right holders with rights in relation to the distribution of their works over the Internet as well as protection against the circumvention of technological protection measures. Thus, it would be worthwhile finding out what rights are provided under your national copyright legislation in order for your SME to fully benefit from the protection of copyright and related rights. In order to facilitate legitimate trade of copyright works, it should also be kept in mind that the economic rights granted to authors have a time limit, according to the WIPO treaties, of 50 years after the creator’s death. Longer periods of protection might be provided at the national level. Collective management organizations are usually in a position to provide appropriate information on the issue. Do also remember that copyright protection usually includes moral rights which include the right to claim authorship of a work and the right to oppose changes to it that could harm the creator's reputation.




How do I obtain international protection for my works?

If the country of which you are a national or a resident has ratified the international conventions in the field of copyright and related rights administered by WIPO, such as the Berne Convention, or is a member of the World Trade Organization and has implemented its obligations under the TRIPS Agreement, or if you have published your work for the first time or at least simultaneously in one of the above countries, your work protected by copyright will benefit from automatic protection in a large number of countries. If this is not the case, there may still be some reciprocal agreements between your country and some foreign countries that provide similar rights.





How should I license my works?

If you wish to license your work to users such as broadcasters, publishers, or even entertainment establishments of any kind, ranging from bars to nightclubs, joining a collective management society may be a good option. Collective management organizations monitor uses of works on behalf of creators 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. Where collective management societies are not available, license agreements need to be negotiated individually with the licensee. Expert advice may be useful for obtaining advantageous terms in the licensing contract.

How should I enforce my rights?

The creator of a work has the right to allow or to prohibit the use of his work. If you discover anybody using your copyright works without authorization you may enforce your rights administratively and in the courts. In many countries, so-called border measures to prevent the importation of pirated copyright goods are also available.




Expert advice by an IP agent or attorney, the Copyright Office or the customs authorities would be crucial whenever you discover that your works are being infringed (also see "What Should Your SME do to Resolve Disputes Related to Intellectual Property?"). Some works such as software products phonograms and audiovisual works may include technological measures of protection (e.g. encryptions, conditional access systems) to safeguard them from unlicensed use. Such systems are means by which right owners may limit access to those customers who accept certain conditions for the use of works and the payment to be made for such use.





Useful Tips for Your SME as a Copyright User

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