Scope of the Act
During 2000 Parliament adopted a series of new laws in the field of intellectual property rights. Legislative changes cover virtually all types of intellectual property rights including patents, trademarks, industrial designs, utility models, biotechnological inventions, and copyright and related rights.
Copyright had been regulated by Law 35 of 1965 on Literary, Scientific and Artistic Works. However, the republic hopes to accede to membership of the European Union and as a result of the need for its laws to comply with EU legislation, Law 121 of 2000 on Copyright, Related Rights and Changes to Some Other Laws has been created. It is retrospectively effective from December 1 2000.
The act is generally in line with the legal regulation of the European Union and is based on directives 91/250, 92/100, 93/83, 93/98 and 96/9. It is also in line with international treaties which are binding on the Czech Republic such the Berne Convention, the Rome Convention and the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement.
The subject of copyright under the act is literary works and other artistic and scientific works, which are results of creative activities of the author and are expressed in any objectively perceivable form, including electronic form. The works can be in perceivable form for any period of time. Computer programs can also be protected under copyright if they are considered to be original and the result of creativity by their author. Copyright covers a finished work, its parts and stages, including its title and the names of its characters.
The new act expressly excludes from protection the topic of a work, daily news or any other such information and data, thoughts, methods, principles, discoveries, scientific theories, mathematical and similar kinds of formulas, statistical charts and similar subjects.
The author of a work can only be the person who has created it, although a work can be created by more than one author. In this case, the copyright belongs to all authors jointly and severally. Copyright comes into existence with the work's creation if it is expressed in any form which is objectively perceivable. The destruction of a subject through which the work is expressed does not affect the existence of the copyright. Copyright is composed of exclusive personal and proprietary rights.
The new act has a special provision concerning audio-visual works. The author of an audio-visual work is declared to be its director; his or her copyright in no way affects rights of authors of partial works used in the audio-visual work.
Exclusive personal rights include the right of the author to publish the work. The author has the further right to claim authorship, including the right to decide whether and how his authorship shall be published. The author also has the right to the integrity of his work, and changes to it can be made only with his or her permission. The exclusive personal rights cannot be surrendered and they extinguish with the death of the author. After death, nobody can claim authorship. Exclusive proprietary rights include the right to use the work and to allow others to make use of it; without such permission, the work can be used only in cases expressly specified in the Copyright Act.
Period of protection
The exclusive proprietary rights last during the life of the author and for 70 years after his or her death. If more than one author has created the work, the protection period commences after the death of the last surviving author. The protection period is calculated from the first day of the year following the year in which the decisive event occurred.
Protection against infringement
The author whose rights have been violated can claim, in particular, injunction and discovery relating to information on the origin of the goods. He or she can further demand the withdrawal and destruction of the infringing products, and can claim appropriate satisfaction for non-material detriment. If in favour of the author, a court may order publication of the judgment at the infringer's expense. The author can claim damages and surrender of unjustified enrichment. The new act determines the method for calculating the amount of the unjustified enrichment, which is twice the amount of the licence reward that the author would have gained at the time of the infringing activities. This is a special regulation with respect to the Czech Civil Code.
Copyright can be licensed by the author to other persons who may use the work in a way specified in the licence agreement. The licence agreement can be concluded as exclusive or non-exclusive. The licensee is obliged to pay an appropriate remuneration unless the licence agreement provides for a specific remuneration. The licensee must make use of the licence unless the relevant parties have agreed otherwise. The licence agreement must be concluded in writing if the licence granted is exclusive.
Under the new act computer programs are granted protection similar to that of literary works, except for thoughts and principles on which the respective computer program is based. In order to be protected, the computer program must be expressed in a perceivable form, which is usually the primary source code (eg, a written text) or in the secondary object code, used by the computer itself. Unlike other foreign regulations, the new act does not contain any definition of computer programs, although they are thought to include preparatory design materials.
The act prohibits any third person from making copies of a computer program for personal use; the law allows third persons to make only reserve copies. As result of the new provisions, most computer programs will enjoy copyright protection unless they lack basic inventive and individual aspects of author creativity. This change should improve the position of copyright owners of computer programs in disputes with infringers.
Rights related to copyright are the rights of performing artists, producers of recordings (including audio-visual recordings), radio and television broadcasters, and publishers.
In compliance with European Directive 96/9, the new act provides for protection of the rights of a person who has created a database. A 'database' is defined as a "separate object of protection whether or not it is created as a collection of copyrightable works".
Rights in the database can be transferred to a third person. The rights of its creator last for 15 years from its creation. If the database has been made publicly accessible, the rights of its creator extinguish after 15 years from the time when it became accessible.
Collective administration of copyright and rights related to copyright could only be carried out by persons holding the necessary authorization, granted by the Ministry of Culture.
Legal relations which have come into existence prior to the effectiveness of the Copyright Act shall be governed by the previous Copyright Act. This also applies to rights based on breach of contracts concluded prior to the new act.
The protection period of exclusive proprietary rights are governed by the new act, even if it started to run prior to the introduction of the act. If the period has elapsed before December 1 2000 and it would still have been applicable according to the new Copyright Act, it shall be applied for the rest of the protection period.
The new act also provides for the protection of works which were not protected under the previous act.
For further information on this topic please contact Karel Cermák at Cermák Horejš Myslil by telephone (+420 2 9616 7401) or by fax (+420 2 2494 6724) or by e-mail ([email protected]).
The materials contained on this web site are for general information purposes only and are subject to the disclaimer.