The copyright laws in Ghana were enacted on 17th May 2005. The ACT No 690 was issued by the parliament of Ghana to replace the previous parliamentary ACT No 110 which had been in force since 1985. The copyright laws in Ghana gives legal protection to a variety of originally produced works. The laws grant intellectual property rights to holders for their work and defines the duration of the protection. It therefore gives the copyright holder a chance to reap economic benefits from the information he has shared to the public.
The current copyright laws in Ghana came to effect after the previous one underwent metamorphosis. The changes aimed to combat numerous complains which came from researchers, producers and inventor for lack of defined laws to effectively protect the infringement of their intellectual property rights. It was leading to weakening of local industries and degradation of cultural values and diversity. This among others contributed to the parliament enacting the current ACT 690. The act has therefore provided a clear framework of how to go about the copy right cases in Ghana.
This article will elaborate more on intellectual property law in Ghana, the importance of copyright law in Ghana and the effects of breaking copyright laws in Ghana.
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Copyright laws in Ghana
Right from the word itself, copyright refers to the “rights to copy”. In other terms it’s referred to as intellectual Property Rights. Copyright is a property resulting from the creation of the mind. It is similar to other property for it can be inherited, transferred and disposed.
The copyright laws in Ghana and anywhere in the world grant the creator exclusive right to perform, reproduce the work, prepare derivatives, distribute and display the given work to the public. The importance of copyrights is to ensure the owners get economical rewards from their efforts. This will therefore encourage future creativity that will be of benefit to all of us. The use of copyright material requires permission from their owners and the protection right kicks in immediately after a record in the form of a material has been created. The copyright laws in Ghana under the ACT 690 of 2005 though provides for the creator proving that the work is theirs
When does protection rights ends?
There is a duration of each work that has been copyrighted. This means that the copyright expires. After the elapse of the period, the public is free to use the material as it’s pleased.
Berne convention, established the maximum and minimum duration of copyright as the lifetime of the creator and 50 years after his or her death. For the country that have signed the Berne convention, these are the minimum years of protection. However, a country can establish it's period of protection that should not be less that the figure mentioned.
In Ghana, the copyright protection is 70 years after the death of the last surviving copyright holder this is a case where a copyright is vested in more than one person. It is 70 years after the death of the creator. Copyright laws in Ghana however the folklore work exists in perpetuity in Ghana.
Rights of copyright owners in Ghana
Copyright laws and rules in Ghana give the holders moral and economic rights enabling them to be identified as the creator of the material and also to control the use of the materials including making of the copies.
The economic rights are as follows;
- The creator can rent the work
- He can transform, adapt, translate and arrange the work in a form he deems appropriate
- He can communicate the piece of work to the public through, performance, broadcasting and other means.
- He can distribute his work
- Lastly, he can reproduce the work.
They include the following;
- The creator has the right to be named as the owner of the work
- He can also alter the work
- He also enjoy the right to prevent others from using the material in a way that would prejudice his reputation.
List of copyright laws in Ghana
Below is examples of copyright laws in Ghana. It provides for the work protected by the copyright laws. The copyright law covers both the published and unpublished scientific, artistic and literary works, regardless of the form of expression provided the work is in a tangible or material form.
- Art works that include sculptures, drawings, paintings, photographs and maps.
- Literary copyright law which covers broadcasting scripts, poems, books, stories, novels, and stage directing.
- Broadcasting copyright law.
- Audiovisual works copyright law.
- Choreographic works copyright law.
- Derivative works copyright law.
- Programme-carrying signals copyright law.
- Works of folklore copyright law.
- Computer software copyright law
- Musical works copyright law and
- Sound recording copyright law.
Having covered the list of copyright laws in Ghana. Let’s have a look at what the copyright laws in Ghana do not protect;
- Methods of operations or systems
How to register intellectual property in Ghana
If you are wondering how to register intellectual property in Ghana, then you have come to the right place. This article will direct you on how to go about it;
To register for intellectual property in Ghana, first you must be must be a Ghanaian or with residence in Ghana ordinarily. The work must first be published in Ghana or in cases where it was published outside the country, it has to be subsequently be published within 30 days of the first publication.
The Act provides that after publication the publisher may submit work for registration to the copyright Administrator after it has been published and then two of its copies are deposited at the copyright office
It should also be understood that the copyright is not depended on the registration. The copyright comes in immediately and there is therefore no need for registration as long as the work is original. However, registration provides for facial evidence of the ownership.
The copyright office
This is an agency responsible for the implementation of the copyright Act 690 of 2005. It was established in 2005 under the law and it is mandate to perform the following function as far as the intellectual property law in Ghana is concerned.
- The office carries out activities to prevent piracy in Ghana’s copyright works.
- It registers the copyright works, publication and production
- In cases of copyright disputes, the office comes in as a mediator
- With the assistance of the national folklore board of trustees, the office administers copyright works for the folklores of Ghana
- It administers works in the public.
- The office also provides necessary advice when there are copyright issues.
- It organizes conferences, fora, seminars etc. which are focused on educating the general population and the copyright owners on rights and obligations they enjoy provided under the law.
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Importance of the copyright laws in Ghana
There are numerous advantages of copyright laws in Ghana as well as any other country in this world. The legislators enacted the parliamentary Act 690 of 2005 with the following importance in mind;
1. It stimulates cultural development
The copyright law is indispensable to cultural identity, diversity, culture in general, knowledge and education. The contribution of local content is valuable in this respect. It offers an opportunity to consume cultural goods plus teaching materials created by creativity and imagination whose origin is from a context with which we are familiar with. For example; products which are using expressions, symbols, images, and an affective language that we are familiar with.
Copyright can be viewed as a priceless strategy to promote cultural independence and diversity
2. Economic Importance
The importance of copyright laws and rule in Ghana touches the development of the nation’s economy. For example, when the copyrights are granted to small and medium enterprises and industries which are among the greatest contributors to the economic growth and employments, they ensures that the work produced with the creator is protected hence monitoring on the quality of the products. Counterfeits are kept in oblivion. Competition therefore is genuine and the industries are kept afloat by the sales they make attracting revenue for the country that propels its economic growth.
3. Strengthening the local industries
Copyright laws in Ghana provides the best conditions of growth and expanding of local industries. For example production of music, textbook publishing and other copyright bound entities. The laws then protects these entities from reproduction without the permit of the copyright holders. This potentially stimulates the growth of local industries involved. E.g. the music industry, Print media industry etc. production without the authority of the owner plus compensation will with no doubt have an opposite effect i.e. weakening of the local industries
4. It encourages creativity and sharing of information.
The copyright laws provides for exclusive economic and moral rights to the owner. It protects individual’s work from being used without his or her permission. This is of importance in Ghana because it stimulates creativity amongst its citizens. Copyright laws in Ghana gives creators exclusive rights thereby providing an incentive for the author or inventor to develop and share the information rather than keep it secret. The creator enjoys monopoly of the market for a while.
Copyright infringement in Ghana
What is copyright infringement? This is a question asked by many. To infringe a copy right refers to when the work protected by a copyright is used in the ways listed below without the authority of the copyright holder. Copyright infringement in Ghana occurs when;
- The work is exhibited for commercial use in Ghana
- The work is distributed
- The work is reproduced, extracted, duplicated for commercial use in Ghana.
However, copyright infringement does not occur where the authorized piece of work is used for the purpose of teaching, research or by quotation.
In case of infringement of a copyright, the Act 690 of 2005 provides following remedies to apply;
The owner of the copyright may;
- Petition the copyright administrator for the resettlement for such dispute through arbitration
- Institute criminal proceedings the offender. If the offender is convicted, he stand to pay a fine
- He can also institute proceedings in the court for an injunction to stop continuing of infringement.
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Punishment for breaking copyright laws in Ghana
The effects of breaking the copyright laws in Ghana according to the Act 690 of 2005 are severe;
These laws provides procedures of handling copyright cases in Ghana. An individual who breaks copyright laws in Ghana is liable to the following punishment.
A fine of not more than 1000 penalty units and not less than five hundred penalty units. He is also liable to a term of imprisonment of not more than three years of even both the sentences.
In case of a continuing offence, he liable to an additional fine not more than 25 penalty units and not more than 100 penalty units for each day during which he commits the offence.
Music copyright laws in Ghana
The music copyright laws in Ghana were legislated to protect the following aspects of sound recording and mechanical reproduction right of a composer of the music
- Production of copies of sound recordings- a production company, a producer or manufacturers of sound recording can make copies of any give musical work if the copies of musical work have formerly been made in or brought into the country for the purpose of retail and have been licensed or imported by the owner of the copyright
- Security for devises for audio-visual and sound recordings- a manufacturer, producer or importer purchases a security devices from the internal revenue service with a formal approval of the minister. This will depend on the copyright the manufacture, producer or importer intends to sell or distribute.
- Importation of prerecorded music- an officer of the excise, custom and preventive service is not authorized to allow any imported recorded sound in Ghana unless it is a pirated product. He however allow an original recorded sound only with a written clearance from the copyright owner and the copyright office.