Copyright is the legal protection extended to the owner of the rights in an original work.

"Original work" refers to every production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain. Among the literary and artistic works enumerated in the IP Code includes books and other writings, musical works, films, paintings and other works, and computer programs.

Works are protected by the sole fact of their creation, irrespective of their mode or form of expression, as well as their content, quality and purpose. Thus, it does not matter if, in the eyes of some critics, a certain work has little artistic value. So long as it has been independently created and has a minimum of creativity, the same enjoys copyright protection.

The works covered by copyright protection are:

(a) Books, pamphlets, articles and other writings;

(b) Periodicals and newspapers;

(c) Lectures, sermons, addresses, dissertations prepared for oral delivery, whether or not reduced in writing or other material form;

(d) Letters;

(e) Dramatic or dramatico-musical compositions; choreographic works or entertainment in dumb shows;

(f) Musical compositions, with or without words;

(g) Works of drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, engraving, lithography or other work of art; models or designs for works of art;

(h) Original ornamental designs or models for articles of manufacture, whether or not registrable as an industrial design, and other works of applied art;

(i) Illustrations, maps, plans, sketches, charts and three-dimensional works relative to geography, topography, architecture or science;

(j) Drawings or plastic works of a scientific or technical character;

(k) Photographic works including works produced by a process analogous to photography; lantern slides;

(l) Audiovisual works and cinematographic works and works produced by a process analogous to cinematography or any process for making audio-visual recordings;

(m) Pictorial illustrations and advertisements;

(n) Computer programs; and

(o) Other literary, scholarly, scientific and artistic works.

There are two types of rights under copyright:

  1. Economic rights, which allow the owner to derive financial reward from the use and exploitation of the work; and 
  2. Moral rights, which highlight the personal link existing between the author and the work.

Under economic rights, the creators of a work can use their work as they see fit. They can also authorize or prohibit the following acts in relation to a work:

  1. Reproduction of the work or a substantial portion of the work;
  2. Dramatization, translation, adaption, abridgment, arrangement or other transformation of the work;
  3. The first public distribution of the original and each copy of the work y sale or other forms of transfer of ownership;
  4. Rental of the original copy of an audiovisual or cinematographic work, a work embodied in a sound recording, a computer program, a compilation of data and other materials or a musical work in a graphic form, irrespective of the ownership of the original or the copy which is the subject of the rental;
  5. Public display of the original or a copy of the work;
  6. Public performance of the work; and
  7. Right to destroy copyrighted work.

IP Code enumerates the moral rights of the authors, which are:

  1. To require that the authorship of the works be attributed to him, in particular, the right that his name, as far as practicable, be indicated in a prominent way on the copies, and in connection with the public use of his work;
  2. To make any alterations of his work prior to, or to withhold it from publication;
  3. To object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to, his work which would be prejudicial to his honor or reputation; and
  4. To restrain the use of his name with respect to any work not of his own creation or in a distorted version of his work. (Sec. 34, P.D. No. 49)

Who owns the copyrighted works?

Copyright ownership shall be governed by the following rules:

  1. Single creator. The creator, his heirs or assigns owns copyright.
  2. Joint creator. When the work is produced by two or more persons, the copyright belongs to them jointly, under the provision of the Civil Code o joint ownership.
  3. Commissioned work. Ownership of the work is in the person commissioning; ownership of copyright is jointly in the person commissioning and in the commissioned creator.
  4. Cinematographic works. The producer exercises copyright for purposes of exhibition; for all other purposes, the producer, the author of the scenario, the composer, the film director, the photographic director and the author of the work are the creators. For purposes of showing the film, however, the producer is to be deemed copyright owner.
  5. Pseudonymous and Anonymous works. Unless the author is indisputably known, the publisher shall be presumed to be the representative of the author.

The rights of an author shall last during the lifetime of the author and for fifty (50) years after his death and shall not be assignable or subject to license. (Sec 198.1, IP Code)