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I. LEGAL BASIS
II. COPYRIGHT RELATED MATTERS IN LAOS
1. Definition of copyrights
Copyright means the right of individuals, legal entities or organizations to their creative works in the domains of art and literature, including scientific works. Copyright and related rights are protected immediately after the work in artistic and literary domain is created, including scientific works;
Copyright and related rights include:
Copyrights are rights that protect creations of the mind. The IP Law grants the exclusive legal right to copyright owners to exploit their “creative works in the domains of art and literature, including scientific works” (IP Law Article 3.25). Specifically, the following subject matters may be granted copyright protection under the IP Law:
Artistic works including:
Literary works including:
Copyright refers to the rights protecting works of authorship in art and literature, including scientific works and computer programs, in accordance with the Law. Copyright protection arises in artistic or literary works immediately upon the creation of such works and exists regardless of registration of such protection. Copyright owners may apply to the Department of Intellectual Property to have their copyright recorded to simplify the settlement of any disputes that may arise with regards to the protected works.
Copyright is the IP regime for the protection of artistic works such as drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, illustrations, musical works and compositions, and works of literature such as books, brochures, speeches, plays, and academic works.
The owner of copyright in a work will be the author, or authors, except in particular cases in which the rights have been assigned or transferred or in some cases of work commissioned by a third party which provides compensation to the author/s for the copyright to the respective work or works.
The Law provides a list of exclusive economic and moral rights of copyright owners with respect to the work that applies equally to foreign and Lao authors in Lao PDR. Such exclusive rights include the rights to disclosure and publication of the work, to object to misattribution of authorship, to compile a collection of copyright works, to reproduce or translate the work, and to gain economic benefits from the sale, broadcast, performance, communication, etc. of the work.
2. Basic information on copyrights in Laos
A draft copyright law was introduced in 2005, but it has not yet been enacted. However, the IP Law in 2011 contains a section on copyright which clarifies that copyright in Laos is an automatic protection, which arises immediately when the work is created without registration requirements. In addition, a Decision of the Ministry of Science and Technology on the Implementation of Law on Intellectual Property concerning Copy right was issued in 2012.
However, a notification of rights can be voluntarily recorded with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). In addition, Laos became a party to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works on March 14, 2012.
The Berne Convention is based on three basic principles, as follows:
The IP Law grants a copyright owner the exclusive right to exploit his or her work, including the moral and economic rights to the work. The moral rights include the exclusive right for the copyright owner to disclose and publish the work first; to have his or her name attached to the work; and to prevent misattribution, distortion, mutilation, or other modification of the work or any action that would be prejudicial to the copyright owner’s honor or integrity.
The economic rights include, in sum, the exclusive right for the copyright owner to exploit his or her work through the making of collections, reproduction, distribution, translation, broadcasting, and communication of the work to the public by wire or wireless means. The IP Law further provides a long list of exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner, which vary depending on the type of work. For example, the copyright owner of a literary work is, in addition to the above-mentioned rights, granted the exclusive right to recite the work to the public, translate the recitation, and communicate the recitation to the public. An owner of a copyrighted dramatic or musical work is granted the exclusive right to perform the work to the public, translate the work, and communicate the performance of the work to the public. (For the full list of a copyright owner’s economic rights, please see Article 98 of the IP Law).
Term of Copyright Protection
The term of copyright shall begin on the date the work is created and shall continue to the end of the calendar year of the dates described below:
1. Except as otherwise provided in this article, fifty years after the date of death of the author, or for a work of joint authorship, fifty years after the date of death of the last surviving author;
2. For anonymous or pseudonymous works, fifty years from the date the work was lawfully made available to the public, provided, however, that the term shall be as provided in item 1 above where:
2.1. the pseudonym adopted by the author leaves no doubt as to his identity;
2.2. the author of an anonymous or pseudonymous work discloses his identity during the above-mentioned period.
3. For a cinematographic work, fifty years from the date the work was made available to the public with the consent of the author, or, failing such an event within fifty years from the making of such a work, fifty years from the making.
4. For applied art, twenty-five years from the date of creation.
In the case that there is an international convention, which the Lao PDR is a party or an international agreement to which the Lao PDR is a signatory, the term of protection shall be as, determined in such convention or agreement.
So, Copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus 50 years, or for a work of joint authorship, 50 years after the date of death of the last surviving author. For anonymous or pseudonymous works, the term of copyright is 50 years from the date the work was lawfully made available to the public. For a cinematographic work, the term of copyright is 50 years from the date the work was made available to the public with the consent of the author. For applied art, the term of copyright is 25 years from the date the work was created.
There is no registration requirement for copyright protection in Laos: Copyright is an automatic protection that arises when the work has been created. However, a copyright owner can voluntarily inform the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) about the creation of the work. An application to inform MOST that a copyright exists must contain the following:
Provided that correct documentation and receipt of payment is submitted, MOST will issue a receipt or a “Certificate of Information” that it has entered the notification into the records, which will serve as evidence in future administrative or judicial proceedings and can, therefore, prove extremely useful.
Any copyright owner, including but not limited to, joint authors, persons, or organisations hiring an author, assignees, successors, and states, can voluntarily register their copyrights. The application may be filed in Lao or English.
3. Works Eligible for Protection
Copyright shall be available to every production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain, whatever may be the mode or form of its expression, provided it is the original creation of its author. In particular, copyright shall be available for:
1. Artistic works include such works as:
1.1. drawings, paintings, carvings, lithography, tapestry or embroidery and other works of fine art;
1.2. sculptures, engravings and other works of sculpture;
1.3. designs of buildings or construction, internal or external decorations designs and other architectural works;
1.4. photographs using technical methods and works expressed by an analogous process;
1.5. illustrations, maps, plans, sketches and three dimensional works related to geography, topography, architecture or science;
1.6. dramatico-musical works, pantomimes or drama, choreographic works and other works created for performance;
1.7. musical compositions with or without lyrics including edited notes or tunes;
1.9. works of applied art;
1.10. film or other cinematographic works or works expressed by an analogous process, and including an audiovisual work which consist of sequence of images which can be continuously projected as moving pictures and can be recorded upon other materials so as to be also continuously projected as moving pictures including the sound tracks of such work.
2. Works of literature include such works as:
2.1. books, thesis, brochures, magazines, printed matters and other writings works;
2.2. lectures, speeches, addresses, discourses, sermons and other oral works recorded;
2.3. dramas, stories, poems;
2.4. computer programs and data compilations, whether in source or object code;
3. Collections of literary or artistic works, such as encyclopaedias, anthologies or compilations of data by reason of the selection and arrangement of their contents, such collections or compilations constitute intellectual creations;
For purposes of copyright, a work is created when it is fixed in a tangible medium.
Items Ineligible for Copyright Protection
The following are ineligible for copyright protection:
4. Copyright Owners
The owner of copyright in a work of authorship shall be the author. Where a work is made jointly, ownership shall belong jointly to the authors unless otherwise agreed.
Where a work is made in the course of employment, the owner shall be the employer unless otherwise agreed.
Copyright ownership and any economic rights thereunder may be assigned by contract or transferred by inheritance.
Any person acquiring or holding any copyright ownership and economic rights by virtue of a contract, including employment contracts under which a work or sound recording is created, shall be able to exercise those rights in its own name and enjoy fully the benefits derived from those rights.
5. Infringement of Moral and Economic Rights
No individual, entity or organization other than the author shall undertake any of the acts described in Article 97 of this Law without authorization by the author, and except as otherwise provided in this Law, any such acts without authorization shall be considered to be an act of infringement of the author’s moral rights.
No individual, entity or organization other than the author shall undertake any of the acts described in Article 98 of this Law without authorization by the author, and except as otherwise provided in this Law, any such acts without authorization shall be considered to be an act of infringement of the author’s economic rights.
The author or copyright owner has the right to protect their rights under the law and regulations against infringements of their moral or economic rights by others such as right to institute court action, [and] right to compensation from damages caused by others.
6. Acts Consistent with Fair Use
The following acts shall be permissible without consent of the author, and without remuneration:
Where use is made of works in accordance with items 1.1 and 1.2 of this Article, mention shall be made of the source and of the name of the author if it appears thereon.
The following acts shall be permissible without consent of the author, and without remuneration, provided such acts are consistent with fair use, provided the source is clearly indicated:
For the purpose of reporting current events by means of photography, cinematography, broadcasting or communication to the public by wire, literary or artistic works seen or heard in the course of the event may, to the extent justified by the informatory purpose, be reproduced and made available to the public.
The above acts shall not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and shall not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author.
A determination of whether a use as above constitutes a fair use shall take into account the circumstances as a whole as further described in a specific regulation.
The provisions of this article will not apply to:
7. Violation of Copyright and Related Rights
Violations of copyright and related rights are as follows:
1. committing an act of infringement as described in Article 99 or 108 of this Law;
2. circumventing effective technological measures used by performers or producers of phonograms in connection with the exercise of their rights and that restrict acts, in respect of their performances or phonograms, which are not authorized by the performers or the producers of phonograms concerned or permitted by law;
3. performing any of the following acts, knowingly or having reasonable grounds to know that it will lead to an infringement of copyright or related rights:
3.1. Removing or altering any electronic rights management information without authority;
3.2. distributing, importing for distribution, broadcasting, communicating or making available to the public, without authority, performances, copies of fixed performances or phonograms knowing that electronic rights management information has been removed or altered without authority.
4. recording or disseminating of satellite signal carrying encrypted or unencrypted programs for commercial purposes without the authorization of the lawful distributors.
8. Copyright Piracy
Pirated copyright goods shall mean any good which is a copy of a work of authorship or object of related rights, where such copy is:
It shall be a violation of this Law to produce pirated copyright goods, or to, sell, offer for sale, advertise or otherwise market, or to export or import such goods.