In this article, we analyse how a copyright infringement may occur, the remedies available for copyright infringement and the legal penalties incurred if the Copyright Act is violated.
Copyright infringement is the use of copyrighted material without the author’s permission. In mainland Tanzania, copyright infringement is principally governed by the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act (the Copyright Act).
Circumstances resulting to copyright infringement
Copyright infringement may be a result of various circumstances all of which depend on the nature of the artistic work. For moral rights, circumstances may arise where there are actions such as distribution, mutilation, modification, and other derogatory actions over artistic works where such actions would prejudice an author’s honour and reputation. For economic rights, such circumstances include:
- unauthorised reproduction of the artistic work in various forms, such as printed publications or sound recordings
- unauthorised distribution of copies of the artistic work
- unauthorised public performance of the artistic work
- unauthorised broadcasting or other communication of the artistic work to the public
- unauthorised translation of the artistic work into other languages
- unauthorised adaptation of the artistic work, such as converting a novel into a screenplay
Available remedies for copyright infringement
The Copyright Act provides remedies and penal provisions against copyright infringement in mainland Tanzania. The following are the available remedies to authors who fall victim to copyright infringement:
- civil remedies (litigation)
- destruction of unlawfully manufactured or distributed works
- right of delivery
Civil remedies (litigation)
Authors have the option of instituting civil proceedings before courts in Tanzania upon infringement of their rights under the Copyright Act for reliefs such as injunction and payment of damages suffered. The court is defined in the Copyright Act as the court of competent jurisdiction. Therefore, the institution of proceedings in court would depend on the nature of the claim to determine which court has jurisdiction.
Destruction of unlawfully manufactured or distributed works
This remedy is subject to limitation to the extent that if the source of infringement can be modified in such a way so as to rectify the infringement then the injured party can only require that such measures be taken to that effect. Therefore, the destruction of the works is dependent on the said limitation.
Right of delivery
Copies and equipment may be delivered to the injured party if he or she requires so, for an equitable price which does not exceed the production cost.
For a first offence, a person who violates the provisions of the Copyright Act shall be liable to a fine of not less than TZS 20,000,000 (approximately USD 8,662) or thirty percent (30%) of the value of the pirated material, whichever is higher, or to imprisonment for a term between six months and three years, or to both fine and imprisonment. For each subsequent offence, a person shall be liable to a fine of not less than TZS 30,000,000 (approximately USD 12,993) or fifty percent (50%) of the value of the pirated copyright material, whichever is higher, or to imprisonment for a term between twelve months and five years, or to both fine and imprisonment.
The above offences are determined on a commercial basis and the court may order compensation to the right holder in addition to the sanctions above for subsequent offences. The above offences may be compounded if a person admits in writing that they have committed the offence under the Copyright Act.