Copyright and Protection against Infringement in Bangladesh

Sakib Sikder

Managing Partner, Jural Acuity

By Miss Mardiah Chowdhury

Intellectual property refers to any confidential information, trademark, industrial design, copyright, or any patent which is required to be protected. Copyrights are one of the sub-divisions of intellectual property and this includes artistic works or cinematograph films or any music. These copyright are exclusive rights given under the copyright law to the owner and in case of any infringement of such, the owner can sue or is entitled to get remedies.

Section 14 of the Copyright Act, 2000 states that copyright means any right, to do or authorize the doing of any of the concerned acts in respect of work thereof, namely literary, dramatic, or musical work or Artistic work or Sound recording and others. Under section 15 of the following Act, copyright protection will be provided to the owner on any original works only. The law only protects the original work; in Donoghue vs. Allied Newspapers Ltd [1938] Ch. 106 it was held that mere amanuensis shall not be considered as real work or become any interpretation of original work, hence that law will not give protection unless the work is unique. Thus, the law protects the owner against those misuse of his property or his original work without permission. So, creative work is protected by law, but that one must be registered.
In order to get the protection of copyright, the owner must have to register in accordance with the law. According to section 60 of the following Act, the certificate of registration of the work is prima facie evidence in case any dispute arises, thus registration is necessary.
The procedure of Registration: Section 15(2) of the Copyright Act, 2000 and Chapter 2 of the Copyrights Rule, 2006 states that the owner can make an application to the Register of the work for entering in the register of copyrights. While some steps have to follow as-
• Application has to be made on Form II in triplicate as per the First Schedule of the 2000 Act.
• Also, a separate application is to be submitted for registration of each work.
• These applications must be accompanied by the prescribed fee mentioned in the Second Schedule of the Rules.
• The applications should be signed by the applicant or by the advocate or by the Power of Attorney.
• This signature is needed to serve notice of the concerned application to every person who has any interest in the subject matter of that application.
If the Register may hold an inquiry and after the inquiry, if he deems fit, he may enter such particulars of work in the Register of Copyrights and issue a certificate of such registration to the applicant.
Duration of such Registration: In Bangladesh, the term of copyright varies according to the nature of the work and whether the author is a natural person or a legal person. Sections 24-38 of the following Act deals with the term of protection some of which is as follows-
• In cases of artistic, musical, dramatic works, cinematograph film, photograph the terms are 60 years from the beginning of the calendar years next following the year in which the author dies.
• In the case of works of international organizations the term is 60 years from its first publication.
• For published edition the term is 25 years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the edition is first published.
• In case of joint authorship of work the term will be sixty years from the death of the last surviving author.
In case of infringement of the copyright’s protection given by the law, the owner is entitled to get remedies and can sue for such. The remedies are-
Civil Remedies: According to section 76 of the Copyright Protection Act, 2000 the owner can bring a civil action against any person and may seek injunction or compensation or others. Under section 81 of the following Act, a suit or other civil proceedings relating to infringement of copyright is to be filed in the District Judge Court. The court must be within the jurisdiction of the plaintiff where he resides or carries on business or where the cause of action arose irrespective of the place of residence or place of business of the defendant. It is vital to mention that the civil remedies provided to the plaintiff are compensation for such infringement.
Criminal Remedies: Under Section 82-84 of the following Act, some conditions of infringement – that are willful infringing or abetting the infringement of the copyright in a work or publishing it in any medium, selling or distributing it more than one copy. If any such condition of infringement occurs then the person will be liable as according –
Firstly, section 80 0f the following Act states that the infringement of copyright is a cognizable offense and is punishable with imprisonment for a period extending from six months to four years and a fine ranging from Tk. 50,000/- to Tk. 200,000/-.
Secondly, section 93 of the following provides for seizure of infringing copies and confiscation of all duplicating equipment used for manufacturing counterfeit copies. However, if the court is satisfied that infringement is committed without having an intention for profit or non-commercial purpose then the court may give lesser punishment, which may be imprisonment for less than six months and a fine for less than 50,000 takas.
Thirdly, in section 84 of the following Act in case of piracy of computer programs, the amount of fine is extended by an amendment to the Copyright Act on May 18, 2005. which is now minimum Tk. 100,000 and maximum Tk. 400,000, if it is committed for commercial purposes. However, in case of mere use of infringing copy or, if the court is pleased that it is committed for non-commercial purposes, the court may impose a lesser punishment.
Administrative Remedies: The owner can apply to the register in case of any infringement. The owner can apply to ban any import or any other remedies. The Register authority may destroy the counterfeit or will ban the import if the infringement is proved.

Therefore, the owner of the copyright has the available remedies. Unfortunately, the majority population of Bangladesh is neither concerned nor aware of copyright law. Many pictures are circulating on Facebook and different websites without the permission or knowledge of the original owner. The reason for such is non-enforcement of the law properly, lack of public awareness, no establishment of copyright society, limited duration of protection, and others. In addition to it, delay in the disposal and lack of a proper legal framework is another important reason resulting in disinterest among the public. A recent case has been filed by Facebook in Dhaka District Court as well in Sessions Judge Court regarding the use of facebook.com.bd which a Bangladeshi company namely A1 company recently launched. Facebook’s authority issued a legal notice several times but the company ignored it; as a consequence, Facebook filed the case by seeking compensation. The court issued a temporary injunction banning the use of facebook.com.bd for copyright issues the matter is still pending. In light of the recent events, proper implementation and development of copyright law in Bangladesh has become very vital.