Copyright law provides creators of copyright works the exclusive right to publish and issue copies of their work for sale to the public; to copy, store or perform their works, to communicate or broadcast their works to the public online, to adapt their works for other media or authorise any such use of their works.
Copyright law balances these monopoly rights by providing individuals, educational institutions and libraries with limited rights to copy from the works of others for criticism, review or news reporting, educational purposes or for research or private study.
A creator's moral rights to be identified as creator of the work and to object to derogatory use of the work are also recognised under copyright law. To use another's work without identifying the creator is plagiarism.
Copyright automatically protects the following original works if they are in material form. No registration is necessary.
- Literary (written, spoken or sung) and dramatic (dance, mime) works – include translations and adaptations (scripts for audio visual works), computer programs, periodical articles, tables and compilations; typographical arrangements of published editions
- Artistic works – include graphic works - paintings, drawings, diagrams, maps, plans; photographs; sculptures, architecture (buildings and models of buildings)
- Musical works (exclusive of words)
- Films/audio visual works
- Sound recordings
- Broadcasts, cable programmes and communication works.
The copyright symbol © does not need to be displayed for a work to be protected. However, it does provide users with a reminder that the work is protected by copyright. A creator is able to place a statement on their work permitting it to be used by others and adding conditions for use. A Creative Commons Licence is not essential.
Some works permit copying of the whole work for educational or non-commercial purposes. They may do this by indicating what uses are permitted in their Copyright statement or they may use a Creative Commons Licence. To indicate that the material is not protected by copyright, a creator may provide a "no rights reserved" statement or indicate that it is Copyright Zero (CC0). It is important to check the copyright provisions on the work itself to ascertain the situation.
Usually Bills, Acts, subsidiary legislation, parliamentary debates, reports of the Royal Commission, Commissions of Inquiry, Ministerial or Statutory Inquiries and the judgments of courts and tribunals are specifically excluded as copyright works under copyright legislation.
Works owned by government bodies are not automatically in the public domain, as is the case in the United States. Works made by, or under the direction or control of, the State are protected under State or Crown copyright. For example Annual Reports and other papers and reports prepared by Government Departments are protected under State/Crown copyright unless there is a statement that indicates otherwise.
Ideas, concepts, principles, discoveries, procedures, systems, operational methods and general data are not protected by copyright.
The owner of a copyright work is usually the creator or author of the work. However, where the work is created for and on behalf of an employer during the course of employment then copyright belongs to the employer unless there is a contract that states otherwise. In Fiji, at the beginning where an artistic work is commissioned for payment, then the commissioner will own copyright unless there is a contract that states otherwise.
"Life plus fifty" is the standard term of protection for copyright in Fiji and other countries with no ties to the EU or US. However, over the last 10 years (2000-2010) many countries have extended copyright to 70 years (or longer). This has meant that a number of works that had been in the public domain came back into protection for a few years in those countries.
In Fiji, copyright lasts for 50 years after the end of the year in which the author dies or 50 years from the end of the year in which the work was created or first published (e.g. film, sound recording). State copyright lasts for 50 years. In some countries State or Crown copyright is protected for longer (e.g. in New Zealand Crown copyright lasts for 100 years).
A publisher has rights in the typographical arrangement of a published work (including new editions) which lasts for 25 years from the end of the year in which the work was first published.
Once copyright in the work has expired it falls into the "public domain" and it can be freely used and copied. Many people believe that everything on the Internet is "in the public domain". This is not the case as all material communicated online is automatically protected by copyright and the same copyright rules will apply unless the creator specifies that "no rights are reserved" and the work is copyright free.
International conventions and treaties provide direction for governments in drafting legislation to protect copyright works. Both the Berne Convention and TRIPS Agreement provide a three step rule for governments to take into account when drafting copyright exceptions that provide for fair dealing or permitted uses. Such uses are required to be limited to "certain special cases" which do not "conflict with the normal exploitation of a work" or "unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rightsholder". Copyright legislation usually provides for the following uses:
Incidental copying of a work in a film or sound recording or another work is permissible where the copying is not deliberate.
Extracts from works can be copied for criticism, review or news reporting (as long as the work is acknowledged).
Copying for research or private study by individuals is permissible where only a reasonable portion is copied (e.g. an article from a journal or up to 10% of a book). Only one copy can be made for the individual and it cannot be copied further. This provision cannot be used by educational institutions to copy for students (Longman v Carrington (1991)).
Fairness of use should be judged on:
- the nature of the work copied
- whether the work is available for purchase at a reasonable price
- the effect of the copying on the market and/or the value of the work, and
- the significance of the portion copied in relation to the whole. For example 10% of a book would be considered significant where the copying included the summaries of each chapter and the book was available for purchase, but not where the book was unavailable for purchase.
Permitted Copying from Literary, Dramatic, Artistic and Musical Works in the Pacific Region provides simplified information about fair dealing uses and educational exceptions in the Pacific Region.
The USP Copyright Compliance Guidelines provide additional information about permitted uses of copyright works by educational providers in Fiji, including performance. The Appendix, Permitted Copying from Literary, Dramatic, Artistic and Musical Works in the Pacific Region, provides simplified information about fair dealing uses and educational exceptions in the Pacific Region.