Copyright Laws in Pakistan

Copyright laws in Pakistan protect original works of authorship; the work created by its author was independently created and wasn’t copied from someone else. For a work to be protected by copyright, the work must show (a small amount) of creativity. Copyright is a form of Intellectual Property in Pakistan, and can be registered and enforced in Pakistan.

As Copyright laws are territorial, we need to consider 2 things in mind; First, the copyright laws in Pakistan (where your work may have been created or used), and the second would be the copyright laws of the USA, as many Social Media platforms (like Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, etc) that usually act as distribution channels for copyrighted work are registered there, and their laws may affect your claims.

Categories of Copyright

  • Literary Work
  • Musical Work
  • Sound Recordings
  • Dramatic Works
  • Pantomimes and Choreographic works
  • Pictorial, Graphic or Sculptural Works
  • Motion Pictures
  • Architectural Works

Copyright laws in Pakistan and the USA suggest that the “Content” must be fixed in a “tangible medium of expression” and must be accessible (i.e. via the internet through a device).

Registering a Copyright in Pakistan

An Author or creator of any content will be eligible for copyright protection from the moment their work is created. This protection is generally regarded as being for the life of the owner plus 70 years.

Whilst registration of Copyright is not essential, it is beneficial, especially if you wish to take your matter to court. We can assist you with registering your copyright, whether you’re in Pakistan or abroad. The process is relatively straightforward depending on the kind of work that protection is required for, and applications are made to the IPO office to inform them of the ownership of your work, after which your work is granted protection subject to the IPO’s scrutiny.

Content that is ineligible for Copyright Protection

Certain things do not qualify for Copyright protection, even if the author made an effort to create or discover them. Examples of these kinds of matters are already well-known in the public domain, facts, folklore, and works made by the government.

Any material/content that identifies an individual or a brand also does not qualify for copyright, as they would have to be registered as trademarks, and product mechanism and/or design also do not qualify for copyright protection, as they would fall under patents.

Work made for hire

Work made for hire refers to Copyright work that the owner has made through someone else or another person. If an individual or a team of individuals (that know or don’t know of each other) are employees of a company or are outsourced by an individual or a company to create the content that is copyrighted, then the owner of the copyright would be the person who commissioned the work.

A clear Employer-Employee relationship would need to of been established, and these are usually mentioned in an employment contract. If these matters are ever brought before the courts in Pakistan, then factors such as the orders/supervision, of the company, scope of work of the employee (or freelancer), and which devices were used to make the work would be considered in deeming the ultimate ownership of the disputed copyrighted work.

What is considered “Fair Use”

“Fair use” is the ability to use parts of copyrighted material for a limited or transformative purpose without requiring permission from the owner of the Copyrighted material. In the US, section 107 of the Copyrights Act gives examples such as “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching and research” with courts considering “Parody works” as transformative use.

Pakistani Copyright law doesn’t recognize “Fair use” specifically, but it does allow for the reproduction of copyrighted works for the purposes of research, teaching, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, or judicial proceedings, provided that the reproduction does not conflict with its normal use, does not unreasonably prejudice the interests of the copyright owner, and that it’s for non-commercial purposes and is limited to the extent justified by the purpose.

Enforcing Copyright in Pakistan

As a Copyright owner, you have the Exclusive rights to Use, Copy, Distribute, or Reproduce your copyrighted work. This could be licensed to others (for which you can charge a fee) or sold for a fee. Whether it is a software, video, blog, or song! as a Copyright owner, you have a stronghold on how your work is utilized, providing that it doesn’t fall under “Fair use”.

If someone is illegally using your copyrighted work in Pakistan, several remedies can be utilized to prevent the unauthorized use of your work. The first step would be to send them a legal notice to cease and desist the unauthorized use of your work. Failing that, legal action can be taken to destroy the unauthorized work made, or claim profits made from its illegitimate use.

Speak to us today about your copyright matter

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