Copyright protection has been provided in Malta since 1911. Though the laws that enabled such protection were amended several times over the years, it was, nonetheless, felt that the varying needs of authors and artistes as well as the requirements of the business and science community – particularly as a result of modern-day technology – necessitated an overhaul of the relevant law. As a result, new legislation – the Copyright Act (Act XIII of 2000) -- was enacted in April, 2000.
In line with Malta’s present commitment to proceed with EU accession, the new copyright legislation is not only TRIPS-compliant but is also in line with the Acquis Communautaire*.
Malta is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the Patent Convention, the Berne Convention, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Universal Copyright Convention. Moreover, in 1995, Malta signed the World Trade Agreement that incorporated the TRIPS Agreement.
Works eligible for copyright protection
The following works are eligible for copyright protection:
- artistic works;
- audiovisual works;
- literary works; and
- musical works.
There are also sui generis rights in respect of:
- databases; and
- semiconductor product topographies.
In whom does copyright vest?
Subject to any agreement to the contrary, copyright will normally vest in the author or joint authors.
However, in the case of computer programs, topographies and databases that are made in the course of employment and in the execution of the author’s duties following instructions given by the employer, copyright shall vest in the employer subject to any agreement to the contrary.
Specific requirements to qualify for copyright protection
To qualify for copyright an artistic, literary or musical work must:
- have an original character; and
- be written down, recorded, fixed or otherwise reduced to material form.
A database must constitute the author’s intellectual creation by reason of the selection or arrangement of its contents. Any such copyright shall not extend to its contents.
The only formality required by law for a work to qualify for copyright protection or for neighbouring and sui generis rights to apply is that the author, performer, producer, broadcaster or creator, as the case may be, of the work, at the time when the work was made, be either:
- a citizen of Malta; or
- a person domiciled in Malta; or
- a person who is permanently resident in Malta; or
- a person who is a citizen, or is domiciled or permanently resident in a State in which copyright and neighbouring rights are protected under an international agreement to which Malta is a party; or
- a body of persons or a commercial partnership constituted, established, registered and vested with legal personality under the Laws of Malta; or
- a body of persons or a commercial partnership constituted, established, registered and vested with legal personality under the Laws of a State in which copyright and neighbouring rights are protected under an international agreement to which Malta is a party.
Irrespective of the above, copyright is granted to any work which is eligible for copyright and neighbouring rights shall apply to any work which is made, first published, broadcast or communicated to the public, as the case may be, in Malta or in a State in which such works are protected under an international agreement to which Malta is a party.
Copyright is also granted on every work eligible for copyright and neighbouring rights apply to any work made by or under the direction or control of the Government of Malta and also such governments of other States, international bodies or other inter-governmental organizations as may be prescribed.
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