The Copyright Act 1987 (Copyright Act), which replaced the preceding Copyright Act 1969 on December 1, 1987, is the primary piece of legislation that governs copyright law in Malaysia.

To address the overlap between copyright and design laws, the Copyright Act stipulates that copyright will not exist in any design that is registered under any written legislation dealing to industrial design (section 7(5), Copyright Act). The Industrial Designs Act 1996 and the Industrial Designs Regulations 1999, which went into effect on September 1, 1999, are the laws that govern industrial design protection in Malaysia. Because of this, copyright protection is not available for creative works that qualify for registration as industrial designs.

Can I sue someone…

Legally, you have the right to sue those who copy your work, however to be eligible to sue someone, several factors need to be considered:

Is the copied thing categorised under the act as something that has ownership?

The following types of intellectual property are protected in Malaysia: patents, trade names, industrial designs, copyrights, geographical indications and integrated circuit layout designs. The industrial design category in Malaysia includes IP rights that protect fashion designs. A feature given to an item by any industrial process and which ultimately, attracts attention and is evaluated by the eye is referred to as industrial design. In Malaysia, the Industrial Design Act 1996 and the Industrial Design Regulations 1999 set out the legal rules for industrial design. If you use or use imitations in an obvious or dishonest way​​​​​​for commercial use without obtaining permission from the owner of the registered design, legal action will be taken.

Have you registered your patent/work?

You need to register the patent to have ownership of it

Act Related To Copyright In Malaysia

Intellectual property (IP) law in Malaysia is governed by various statutes and regulations. The primary legislation governing IP in Malaysia includes the following:

  1. Trademarks Act 2019: This act governs the registration, protection, and enforcement of trademarks in Malaysia. It provides for the registration of trademarks, service marks, collective marks, and certification marks. It also establishes the rights and remedies available to trademark owners.
  2. Patents Act 1983: The Patents Act provides for the protection of inventions by granting patents. It sets out the requirements for patentability, procedures for patent application and examination, and the rights and obligations of patent owners.
  3. Copyright Act 1987: This act governs copyright protection in Malaysia. It grants exclusive rights to creators of original works, including literary, artistic, musical, and dramatic works. The act provides for copyright registration, duration of protection, and remedies for copyright infringement.

Question : Does My Copyright Have A Time Limit

Yes, copyright protection in Malaysia has a time limit. In general, the duration of copyright protection in Malaysia is determined by the Copyright Act 1987. Here are some key provisions regarding the time limit for copyright:

  1. Literary, Artistic, and Musical Works: The general term of copyright for literary, artistic, and musical works is the life of the author plus 50 years after the author’s death. This means that during the author’s lifetime and for 50 years after their death, the copyright protection remains in effect.
  2. Cinematograph Films and Sound Recordings: Copyright protection for cinematograph films and sound recordings lasts for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was first published, made, or communicated to the public.
  3. Broadcasts and Performances: The term of protection for broadcasts and performances is 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the broadcast was made or the performance took place.

Things that can be considered as copyrights

Section 8 of the Copyright Act states that derivative works, such as translations, adaptations, arrangements, and other transformations of works protected by copyright, as well as collections of works protected by copyright because of the choice and arrangement of their contents, are protected as original works. If the edition was first published in Malaysia or if the publisher was a qualified person at the time of first publication, it may be eligible for copyright (section 9(1) of the Copyright Act) if it does not consist of reproductions of typographical arrangements of earlier editions.

Case : The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd & Anor v Admal Sdn Bhd [2013] 6 MLJ 405

The appellants argued that the NST Spell it Right concept was not eligible for copyright protection, and that there was no substantial copying. The respondent refuted the appellants’ submission that the structure of the NST Spell it Right was commonplace and that the competition concept was conveyed to the first appellant in confidence.

Held : The trial judge erred in identifying the issue concerning the NST Spell it Right concept as one of ownership only. The evidence showed that the NST Spell it Right was nothing more than a compilation of already existing information. The trial judge also failed to take into account the ‘functional object’ behind competitions. The NST Spell it Right concept was not eligible for copyright because it contained features that were common to all competitions of this nature. The trial judge erred in ruling that the appellants had copied the concept, as there were similarities between the RHB-NST Spell it Right competition and the NST Spell it Right concept.

The trial judge also disregarded the contributions of the appellants in the formulation of the NST Spell it Right concept, and the High Court judgment should be set aside. The concept did not enjoy the necessary quality of confidence to justify judicial protection.

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