The protection of works by copyright in Malta is regulated by the Copyright Act (Chapter 415 of the Laws of Malta) (the ‘Act’).  The Act is in line with the directives on copyright of the European Union as well as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, Including Trade in Counterfeit Goods (the ‘TRIPs’ Agreement).

In terms of Article 3 of the Act, the following works are eligible for copyright protection:

(1) artistic works;

(2) audiovisual works or films;

(3) databases;

(4) literary works; and

(5) musical works.

For a literary, musical or artistic work to be eligible for copyright, the work must have an original character and it must have been written down, recorded, fixed or otherwise reduced to material form.

For databases to be eligible for copyright protection, these must constitute the author’s intellectual creation by reason of the selection or arrangement of its contents.

No application

Copyright works are not formally registered with the Commerce Department. They automatically receive statutory protection once they are placed in the public domain.

In terms of Article 4 of the Act copyright protection is afforded over any of the works eligible for copyright when:

– In the case of individuals: the author of the work is a citizen or is domiciled or is permanently resident in Malta or in a state in which copyright is protected by an international agreement to which Malta is also a party, such as the Berne Convention or the TRIPs Agreement;

– In the case of companies and bodies of persons recognised by law: these are constituted, established, registered and vested with legal personality under the laws of Malta or of a state in which copyright is protected under an international agreement to which Malta is also a party.

– In addition, copyright protection is also afforded by reference to the country where the work is made or first published. Thus, a work is protected in Malta if it is made or first published in Malta or in a state in which such works are protected under an international agreement to which Malta is also a party.

Term of Copyright

The period of protection of copyright is 70 years, which commences to run after the end of the year in which the author dies, irrespective of the date when the work is lawfully made available to the public in Malta.

Rights conferred by Copyright

In terms of Article 7 of the Act, the exclusive rights in respect of the protected material in its totality or substantial part thereof, either in its original form or in any form recognisably derived from the original, which are controlled and restricted by copyright are:

– the direct or indirect, temporary or permanent reproduction by any means and in any form, in whole or in part;

– the rental and lending;

– the distribution;

– the translation in other languages including different computer languages;

– the adaptation, the arrangement and any other alteration and the reproduction, distribution, communication, display or performance to the public of the results thereof;

– the broadcasting or rebroadcasting or the communication to the public or cable retransmission;

– display or performance to the public