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  • NOTE: The information given here is intended to be general information and is not intended to provide legal or other advice. We strongly recommend taking professional legal advice relating to the registration of intellectual property and it's protection under the relevant laws.

    The Copyright law in Pakistan is governed by the Copyright Ordinance 1962 ("the Ordinance") which is modelled on the English Act of 1914. The Copyright Rules 1967 have been framed for the proper working of the Ordinance. Significant changes in the Ordinance were introduced through the Copyright (Amendment) Act 1992 and the Copyright (Amendment) Ordinance 2000.

    Pakistan is a member of both the Berne Copyright Union and the Universal Copyright Convention and under the International Copyright Order 1968 (issued under section 54 of the Ordinance) all the provisions of the Ordinance which apply exclusively to Pakistani works also apply to any work first published in a country being a member of either of the above two conventions in like manner as if such work was first published within Pakistan. Accordingly, the copyright subsisting in any work in any member country is protected in Pakistan under the Ordinance. Pakistan is also a member of the TRIPS Agreement which contains provisions of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1971).

    The types of work protected under the Ordinance are original (1) literary works, including, computer programmes; (2) dramatic works; (3) musical works; (4) artistic works, including drawings, maps, photographs and architectural works; (4) cinematographic works and (5) records. It was only in 1992 that an amendment was made in the definition of "literary work" to extend coverage to computer programmes.

    Sections 18 to 23 of the Ordinance lay down the term of copyright in respect of different works. For example, the period of copyright of a published literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work (other than a photograph) is the life of the author and 50 years after his death. In the case of a cinematographic work, record and a photograph, copyright subsists until 50 years from the beginning of the calendar year from publication of the work.

    It is possible under the Ordinance to assign the copyright in a work either wholly or partially and either generally or subject to limitations and either for the whole term of the copyright or any part thereof. The owner of a copyright can also grant any interest in the right by licence which should be in writing and signed by him or his duly authorised agent. The licence may be exclusive or non-exclusive and it can also be granted by the Copyright Board as a compulsory licence. A non-exclusive licensee cannot sue for infringement of copyright unless he joins the copyright proprietor as co-plaintiff.

    Registration of copyright in Pakistan is not mandatory, it is however recommended, as the certificate issued upon registration may be used in court to subsequently establish ownership should the need arise. The Ordinance therefore enables a copyright owner to register his copyright with the Copyright Office and the certificate of registration is fully enforceable in a court of law and is prima facie evidence that copyright subsists in the work and that the registrant is the owner thereof.

    The following information is required at the time of filing a copyright application.

    1. Name, address and nationality of the applicant
    2. Nature of the applicant's interest in the copyright of the work (e.g. author, publisher, owner, etc.)
    3. Class and description of the work (e.g. literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, etc.)
    4. Title of the work
    5. Language of the work (if any)
    6. Name, address and nationality of the author and if the author is dead, the date of his death
    7. Whether work is published or unpublished
    8. Year and country of first publication and name, address and nationality of the publisher
    9. Years and countries of subsequent publishers, if any, and names, addresses and nationalities of the publishers
    10. Names, addresses and nationalities of the owners of the various rights comprising the copyright in the work and the extent of rights held by each, together with particulars of assignment and licenses, if any
    11. Names, addresses and nationalities of the other persons, if any, authorised to assign or license the rights comprising the copyright
    12. If the work is an artistic work, the location of the original work, including name, address and nationality of the person in possession of the work (in the case of an architectural work the year of completion of the work should also be mentioned)
    13. In the case of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works: (1) If the work to be registered, whether the work is (a) an original work (b) a translation of a work in the public domain (c) a translation of a work in which copyright subsists (d) an adaptation of a work in public domain (e) an adaptation of a work in which copyright subsists; (2) If the work is a translation or adaptation of a work in which copyright subsists: (a) title of the original work (b) language of the original work (c) name, address and nationality of the author of this original work and if the author is dead, the date of his death (d) name, address and nationality of the publisher, if any, of the work (e) particulars of the authorization for a translation or adaptation including the name, address and nationality of the party authorising.

    An application for registration of a copyright is filed at the Central Copyright Office on prescribed form and is accompanied by statement of particulars and statement of further particulars. The applicant is also required to file specimens or copies of the work in question and a duly signed and notarised copy of a power of attorney (as per the prescribed form) along with the application fee. According to a change brought in 2000, in the case of an artistic work, the applicant is also required to advertise the work in a newspaper (as may be prescribed) within one month (or within such extended time as determined by the Registrar) of the filing of the application. Two copies of the advertisement are sent to the Registrar and if within one month (or within the extended time not exceeding two months) of the advertisement no objection to the registration of particulars of the work is received by the Registrar, the particulars of the work are entered in the Register of Copyrights and a certificate of registration is issued. The Registrar of Copyrights may also require the applicant to file an affidavit from the artist or author stating, inter alia, that he has no objection if the copyright is granted to the applicant.

    The Ordinance also provides for enforcement of copyright, and allows three types of remedies to the person whose copyright has been infringed. These remedies are civil, criminal and administrative, which though are distinct and independent, can be availed of simultaneously.

    Civil remedies include injunction, damages, accounts, delivery of infringing copies and damages for conversion. In the case of innocent infringements some of these remedies are not available, e.g., innocent infringers are not required to pay any damages to the copyright owner, but do have to cease the infringing activity or pay the owner a sum representing the reasonable commercial value of that use. An employer is vicariously liable under the Ordinance for the offences that his servants and agents may commit in the course of their duty and within their authority, even though he has no knowledge of the act of infringement and despite the fact that he has given a general order to his servants prohibiting the doing of acts which might amount to infringement. In the case where a copyright owner is unable to institute immediate regular legal proceedings against the infringer for sufficient cause, the Ordinance provides for special remedies to such owner. An application is made to the Court for immediate provisional orders to prevent infringement of copyright and for preservation of any evidence relating to such infringement.

    Criminal remedies provide imprisonment of the accused or imposition of fine or both, seizure of infringing copies, and delivery of infringing copies to the owner of the copyright. In particular, there is an express provision in the Ordinance which deals with the offences by companies. According to this provision if a company commits any offence under the Ordinance every person who was in charge of and responsible to the company for the conduct of its business, as well as the company will be deemed to be guilty of such offence and will be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly. However, if a person proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence, will not be held liable to any punishment. Further under the Ordinance a police officer is also empowered to seize without warrant for production before a Magistrate infringing copies of the work and the equipment etc. used in connection therewith.

    Administrative remedies consist of moving the Registrar of Copyrights to ban the import and export of infringing copies in Pakistan. An application may be made to the custom officer (functioning under Customs Act, 1969) for examination and detention of any consignment intended to be imported into or exported out of Pakistan which is suspected to contain infringing copies of any work which is the subject of copyright.

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