If you need to promote or sell your artwork on the internet or social media platforms, there are some ways to protect the Copyright of your artwork against unauthorized use or infringement activities.
What is Copyright?
In gist, Copyright is the right given to the owner of an original work. The author or the creator of the work is the first owner of any Copyright in it.
Copyright is an automatic right. It arises when a work is created. Copyright helps stop people from doing things without the consent of the copyright owner. The notice for copyright is ©. It is a form of property rights.
In Hong Kong, Copyright is governed by the Copyright Ordinance (Cap. 528). Registration is not required for Copyright. There is no official registry in Hong Kong for registration of Copyright works.
Copyright can subsist in the following artistic works:
Graphic works (paintings, drawings, diagrams, maps, charts, plans, engravings, etchings, lithographs, and woodcuts), photographs, sculptures, collages, buildings (and models for buildings), and works of artistic craftsmanship (e.g. jewelries).
Ownership of Copyright
The general rule is that :
1) For artwork of distinct authorship, each author/creator owns the copyright in his own part.
2) For collaborative artwork involving more than one author or creator of the artwork, if the contribution of each author or creator is not distinct from the other, then there is joint authorship of the artwork in equal shares.
If one joint author/creator dies, his share of the copyright will pass on to his successors and not the other joint authors/creators.
There are 2 exceptions to this general rule:
i) For works created by an employee within his normal duties of employment, the copyright in the work belongs to the employer, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.
ii) For ownership of commissioned works (i.e. works developed by an independent author on commission from other person or company), it is determined by the agreement between the parties.
How Long Does Copyright in Artistic Work Last For?
Copyright in artistic work lasts until 50 years after the creator of the work dies. (i.e. 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the creator dies).
Practical Ways of Protection
For Hong Kong Art Law Services, please contact CHOW & CHEUNG [Tel: +852 2856 3799 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org]
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