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Performers' rights

Performers are entitled to various rights in their performances, whether these take place on the stage, during a concert and so on.  Performers also have rights in any recordings, films or broadcasts of their performances.

In many cases, but not always, the performance may be of a copyright work - literary, dramatic or musical - so the performers' rights will be in addition to the rights of copyright owners with respect to the performance and subsequent exploitation of any recording or broadcast of the performance.

A performer has the right to control the broadcasting of his or her live performance to the public. The permission of a performer must also be sought before a recording of the live performance is made.  These are referred to as a performer's non-property rights.

Once a recording of the performance has been made, the performer's permission is also needed to make copies of that recording. A performer may be entitled to remuneration in respect of broadcasting, other types of communication to the public by electronic transmission, public performance and rental of those copies.  These are a performer's property rights.

It will usually be necessary, therefore, to obtain permission from the performers in advance for activities that would infringe any of these rights.

A performer also has moral rights.

Moral rights

Moral rights give the authors of literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works and film directors the right:

  • to be identified as the author of the work or director of the film in certain circumstances, e.g. when copies are issued to the public.
  • to object to derogatory treatment of the work or film which amounts to a distortion or mutilation or is otherwise prejudicial to the honour or reputation of the author or director.

In contrast to the economic rights under copyright, moral rights are concerned with protecting the personality and reputation of authors.

The right to be identified cannot be exercised unless it has been asserted, that is, the author or director has indicated their wish to exercise the right by giving notice to this effect (which generally has to be in writing and signed) to those seeking to use or exploit the work or film.

Moreover, the author or director can waive both the right to be identified and the right to object to derogatory treatment.

There are a number of situations within which these rights do not apply including:

  • where the work is a computer program
  • where ownership of a work originally vested in an author's employer
  • where the material is being used in newspapers or magazines
  • reference works such as encyclopaedias or dictionaries

Authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and film directors are also granted the moral right not to have a work or film falsely attributed to them.

Performers also have Moral rights which include the right:

  • to be identified as the performer and
  • to object to derogatory treatment of performance.

Moral rights last for as long as copyright lasts in the work although the creator may waive, that is choose not to exercise, his or her moral rights. Unlike copyright they cannot be sold or assigned to another person.

Economic rights

Economic rights give the copyright owner the opportunity to make commercial gain from the exploitation of his/her work.  Copyright owners generally have the right to authorise or prohibit any of the following things in relation to their works:

  • copying the work in any way. For example, photocopying, reproducing a printed page by handwriting, typing or scanning into a computer, and taping live or recorded music are all forms of copying
  • issuing copies of the work to the public
  • renting or lending copies of the work to the public. However, some lending of copyright works falls within any Public Lending / Rental Right Scheme, and this lending does not infringe copyright
  • performing, showing or playing the work in public. Obvious examples are performing plays and music, playing sound recordings and showing films or videos in public.  Letting a broadcast be seen or heard in public also involves performance of music and other copyright material contained in the broadcast
  • broadcasting the work or other communication to the public by electronic transmission.  This includes putting copyright material on the internet or using it in an on demand service where members of the public choose the time that the work is sent to them
  • making an adaptation of the work, such as by translating a literary or dramatic work, transcribing a musical work and converting a computer program into a different computer language or code.

Copyright is infringed when any of the above acts are done without permission, whether directly or indirectly and whether the whole or a substantial part of a work is used, unless what is done falls within the scope of exceptions to copyright permitting certain minor uses.

Written works.

Copyright applies to original written works such as novels, newspaper articles, lyrics for songs, instruction manuals and so on. These are known as literary works.

There is no copyright in a name, title, slogan or phrase. But these may be eligible for registration as a trade mark, or a common-law action to prevent passing-off may give protection for unregistered trade marks. However, logos may be protected under copyright as artistic works and many trade marks may therefore also be copyright works.

You may need to get permission from a copyright owner if you wish to copy written work in any way, for example, photocopying, reproducing a printed page by handwriting or typing it or scanning into a computer ; or rent or lend books and so on, to the public, unless any exceptions apply.

Publication right

Publication right gives rights broadly equivalent to copyright, to a person who publishes for the first time a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or a film in which copyright has expired.  However, there is one major difference, publication right only lasts for 25 years from the year of publication of the previously unpublished material.

It is important to note that the owner of publication right is the person who first publishes the unpublished material in which copyright has expired which will not necessary be the original owner of the copyright in the work.

This right should not be confused with the protection afforded published editions



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